The six of us were transported into a breakout room, holding on to pieces of paper sharing the quote This is the Winter of Our Discontent. Linda, Alex, Dana, Trevor, Chris and myself, Miray are now a collaborative group. For the next 10 weeks, we will play and experiment to make something new. Together, we open a letter revealing the beginning to our creative endevour.
Our starting point is Future Library by Katie Paterson.
It is a hundred year project
It began in 2014 with the planting of a forest in Norway
Every year, a writer will contribute a text
Hidden. Unread. Unpublished.
Every year, a ceremony is held to pass on the work to a new writer
In 2114, when the forest is naturally dying
It will be used to publish the hundred manuscripts
And they will be revealed, for the first time.
The scope of the artwork, the meditation on time through the tangiability of space felt profound and familiar. It reminded me of an exhibition I used to visit at The Lowry on my lunch breaks, SYZYGY (also by Paterson). The collection was a welcome escape from my office job, and I would go regularly to pick up the phone and listen to a glacier melting, or watch a self-playing piano perform Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, distorted by the moon's surface.
Totality (c) Katie Paterson, 2016
We spoke about how we might share time without sharing space.
The effect of zooming out from the micro human experience to the macro scale of the cosmos.
Making art for the imagined future, whether or not it will exist.
The way nature is universal, material and conceptual.
How the work is not made for consumption, profit or instant gratification.
And how that made it inherently political.
We spoke about duration - of writing, life and trees.
And how that became tangible through the written word, the paper it would be printed on.
We talked about ownership and relinquishing control.
The ritual of passing on the writing.
The liberation of knowing it won't be seen for a century.
The simplicity of the materials and the profound weight of connection they held.
We talked about the limitations of making performance under current restrictions, and ways of overcoming those through our practice. There were suggestions of journeys guided by sound, letters or drawings. Riddles, hidden objects and marking your presence. Installations in the woods. Mystery boxes in the post.
At the moment, we do not know what the work will be, but for the duration of this project, we will explore where this process might take us. This is the beginning.