A WALK IN THE WOODS: While many in the U.S. were unwinding over the long weekend, British novelist David Mitchell was trekking through a forest outside of Norway for the Future Library Handover Ceremony.
Literally following in the footsteps of Margaret Atwood, who did the same a year before with her text “Scribbler Moon,” Mitchell presented his work to artist Katie Paterson, the creator of the Future Library Project. Initiated last year, the program will accept one text each year for 100 years, the premise being that none will be read until 2115.
In a video interview with Paterson, Mitchell said it took him two or three months to come back to her with a yes, because his first reaction was, “That’s just mad. I write something and nobody gets to read it.”
Mulling over the invitation, he said he liked the idea of contributing to slow art. (Like the slow travel and slow food movements, slow art is gaining ground, with more than 200 institutions expected to take part in next year’s global Slow Art Day.) Before he finished “From Me Flows What You Called Time” for the Future Library, Mitchell said, “It was a daunting prospect to write something that needn’t be ashamed of itself after Margaret Atwood’s book….but that’s exactly why it’s worth doing. If I don’t have to bleed for it, then I shouldn’t be doing it. Readers just know. A lot of books I read are fine but there’s an absence of blood, sweat and tears.”
Having the leeway of writing something that would not be read for 100 years had its advantages, according to Mitchell, who said he didn’t have to worry about copyrights if he wanted to quote a Beatles song or having a character who was “quite sweary.” More artistic was the design Paterson created for his work. Enlivened by the fact the Future Library Handover Ceremony was scheduled for a Saturday, which meant schoolchildren could attend the walk through the Nordmarka forest that ended with attendees having coffee or hot chocolate prepared over an open fire, Mitchell said he liked the idea that a two-year-old attendee might one day ready his work at the age of 102. With two children of his own, the Ireland-based writer said the project is “a vote of confidence in the future.”
Imagining that the project will become more widely known with each passing year, “The Bone Clocks” author continued, “I can’t imagine that it will be forgotten. That’s the future. If you can see it, it’s not the future you’re looking at. Perhaps, it’s actually your own hopes or fears.”
As part of the centennial undertaking, Paterson worked with foresters from Oslo’s Agency of Urban Environment to plant 1,000 Norwegian spruce trees for the Future Library forest. Under the design instructions of Atelier Oslo and Lund Hagem Architects, the new Oslo City Library will open in 2019 and house the Future Library. This futuristic thinking has been adopted for commercial pursuits. Louis XIII Cognac recruited director Robert Rodriguez and writer/actor John Malkovich to create the “100 Years,” a movie that viewers will never see.