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 And meets world famous writer Margaret Atwood, who will write this future library's first story, not to be published for 100 years.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

  • Athi-Patra Ruga

    A Glimpse of Utopia

    “Somehow resistance is what validates an identity. Growing up gay, black and non-Christian, it kind of is something I love playing with.” Athi-Patra Ruga's sensuous work makes us question everyday life.

  • Catherine Opie

    A World Beyond Selfies

    “I was never an optimist in thinking that my images would change laws. But I certainly thought that I would be able to create a history.” Catherine Opie, photographer of minority groups and subcultures, can be both political and very internal.

  • Peaches

    Love Your Vagina

    ”It’s most important right now that men be feminists. If women say they aren’t it’s only because the word is not relating to them and we need to find new terms.” Electronic musician and performance artist Peaches wants us to question norms.

  • Alex Da Corte & Jørgen Leth

    Eminem and Warhol

    Two American icons portrayed eating. Young Alex Da Corte, who impersonated Eminem for a year, was inspired by film director Jørgen Leth, who made an iconic scene with Andy Warhol. Here they meet on stage to talk about the stunning parallels.

  • Tomas Espedal Meets

    Karl Ove Knausgård

    For the first time ever the two giants in Scandinavian literature, Norwegian writers Tomas Espedal and Karl Ove Knausgård, meet on stage – about writing their autobiographical novels where you "have to proceed even though you feel the danger."

  • Daniel Richter

    A German Painter

    “The studio is the sponge and the outside world is the water … The sponge is dipped into reality and then squeezed out.” Daniel Richter, one of the most important painters of his generation, talks about the transformative power of painting.

  • Tiffany Chung

    Maps of Memory

    One of the biggest political and social issues of our time is the refugee crisis. Meet Vietnamese-American artist Tiffany Chung who uses questions of migration, conflict and cultural memory as the raw material for her art.

  • Erik A. Frandsen

    Drawing Out Memories

    Distinguished Danish artist Erik A. Frandsen here shares how the trance-like experience of a 35 days and 1,050-kilometre long walk was transferred into a stunning exhibition of multi-coloured mosaic columns and beautiful watercolour sketches.

  • David Shrigley

    Advice to the Young

    “You’re on the right track if you’re excited about what you’re doing.” David Shrigley, known for his humorous spin on common situations, here advises his colleagues to be open to learning from mistakes and stresses that being an artist “isn’t for everybody.”

  • Manal Al Dowayan

    Protecting Words

    “The written word is about engaging the viewer.” Let us introduce you to the cool Saudi Arabian artist Manal Al Dowayan, who here shares why she has chosen to integrate words into her art – and why they are so powerful.

  • David Shrigley

    Everything that is Bad About Art

    "One tends to think of oneself as being somewhat more functional and dynamic than one actually is.” Join the incomparable David Shrigley for a thorough and humorous talk about making art that some people think is absolute rubbish.

  • Joshua Oppenheimer

    Making the Invisible Visible

    "You have to find the traces of fear and silence that are visible, whether it's in the furrow of someone's brow or in the water as it flows down an aging torso." Joshua Oppenheimer talks about the making of his Oscar-nominated documentaries.