Paterson & Atwood

Paterson & Atwood

Future Library

Come take a walk in the forest with Scottish artist Katie Paterson, who tells us about her artwork Future Library. And meets world famous writer Margaret Atwood, who will write this future library's first story, not to be published for 100 years.

Future Library is an artwork unfolding over a hundred years. Recently, artist Katie Paterson (b. 1981) has planted trees in a forest nearby Oslo, that in a hundred years time will be made into an anthology of books. Moreover for each year over the next century one author will be invited to write a story, that will not be read till 2114. "Year by year the manuscripts will be stored in a specially designed room in the new Oslo library and the only thing you will be able to see is the name of the author and the title of the text and the year the work was written. Nobody will be able to read the work beforehand", says Katie Paterson.

"We will do everything to ensure that the books will be printed. But there are so many ifs and unknowns: Will a fire have wiped out the forest? A storm? Will Norway still be a country? There are so many things, we cannot predict. Or as Margaret Atwood said: Will the human species still exist?"

Concerning the texts, Katie Paterson says: "We are putting no restrictions at all to what will be written - from one word to unlimited words in any language. It's complete freedom to the authors, other than that they have one year to write the text, before they have to submit it in and they are not able to publish it anywhere."

"For a writer, it must be quite a strange request: Do they write to the future? Do they write about the future? Whom are they writing to?"

When Katie Paterson presented the idea of future library to world famous writer Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) and asked her to write the first story, the Canadian author didn't hesitate to say yes. She was fascinated by the idea: "I think, it takes us back to our childhood, when we used to bury things in secret locations and hope for somebody to come and dig them up. Or to when we put messages into bottles and threw them into the ocean."

Katie Paterson was born in Glasgow in 1981 and educated at Edinburgh College of Art from 2000-2004 and at the Slade School of Art from 2005-7. Recent artworks include Earth–Moon–Earth (2007) which involved the transmission of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to the moon and back; Vatnajökull (2007-8) – a live phone line to an Icelandic glacier; and All the Dead Stars (2009), a large map documenting the locations of the 27.000 dead stars known to humanity.

Katie Paterson and Margaret Atwood were interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner.

Camera: Klaus Elmer & Nikolaj Jungersen
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014

Louisiana Channel is supported by Nordea Fonden

  • Ed Atkins

    Something is Missing

    Ed Atkins is considered one of the most unsettling contemporary artists – as well as one of the most exciting. In this video, the young British artist shares how he works from written texts, and why melancholy is at the centre of his animated digital videos.

  • Louisa Gagliardi

    Longing for Something Else

    “Art is amazing because it’s in a way unnecessary, but extremely necessary as a testimony of its time.” Let us introduce you to a rising star of painting, Louisa Gagliardi, who creates her surreal work digitally and adds layers of paint to the printed image.

  • Hannah Levy

    A Design Purgatory

    “I wonder if the reason why people want to touch it is that they’re in some way attracted to it, or if they’re repulsed by it.” Meet the young artist Hannah Levy, who primarily makes sculptures combining curving steel forms with cast silicone.

  • Dora Budor

    Acting Things

    “I want to use art as a field where I can explore parallel scenarios.” Dora Budor makes complex sculptures and interactive installations inspired by cinematic metaverse and scientific research. Join us as we visit the young Croatian artist in her studio.

  • Ian Cheng

    A Portal to Infinity

    Watch Ian Cheng, a rising star on the art scene, talk about his trilogy of animated live simulation works – ‘Emissaries’ – which work like a never-ending video game in real time: “It was a process that was on-going as life is on-going.”

  • Yona Friedman

    Advice to the Young

    What piece of advice would a renowned 94-year-old architect offer young architects? Find out in this short video, where Yona Friedman argues that architects must always adapt to the context and work for the average user.

  • Jan Gehl

    How to Build a Good City

    “We now know that first, we form the cities, but then the cities form us.” Meet the 81-year-old Danish architect Jan Gehl, who for more than fifty years has focused on improving the quality of urban life by helping people “re-conquer the city.”

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.