Sjón Takes Part In “Future Library” Project

Sjón Takes Part In “Future Library” Project

Signe Smala
Words by
Photos by
Magnus Fröderberg/Wikimedia Commons

Published October 25, 2016

Award-winning Icelandic author Sjón is the third writer to add his work to the “Future Library” project, where it will lay unread along with 99 others until the start of next century.

This autumn, Scottish artist and author of the project Katie Paterson invited Sjón to participate in the creation of this artwork, which started in 2014. All submitted works will be kept away from prying eyes until the early 22nd century.

“His writing is dynamic and melodic, and like Future Library, interlaces the human and natural world through stretches of time,” Paterson said in an interview with The Guardian.

The project aims to create a unique string of communication between 21st and 22nd century, posing new challenges to the writers.

Sjón pointed out questions an author meets after accepting such a task: “Am I writer of my times? Who do I write for? How much does the response of the reader matter to me? What in a text makes it timeless? And for some of us it poses the hardest question of all: Will there be people in the future who understand the language I write in? It is a game I look forward to playing with enthusiasm and earnestness.”

Two authors – Margaret Artwood a Canadian novelist, poet and art critic as well as British writer David Mitchell – have already added their work to this unique, growing collection of texts.

“Being the first non-English writer from a language spoken by few – that’s what we call it here – for me of course I really have to face the question of language,” said Sjón. “We will see. I feel a duty to write in that language and not English.”

The project is based in Oslo city, in whose forest, “Nordmarka”, 1000 trees were planted by Paterson in 2014. They will be used to make the paper on which these long cherished messages will be printed.

“I don’t know if it will be a big work or a small work,” the author told The Guardian.  “Katie says it’s completely up to me if it’s a one-word piece or a novella or a single poem. That’s also part of the game. But if you do that, is it because you don’t want to risk saying more, or because it’s all you have to say? We’ll see.”


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