For Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine a group of performers memorize a book of their choice. Together they form a library collection consisting of living books. The books are passing their time, walking around, talking together, reading in paper-books, ready to be consulted by a visitor. The visitors choose a book they would like to read, and the book brings its reader to a place or for a walk outside, while reciting its content – and possibly valid interpretations.

The idea for this library of living books comes from Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, which is set in a future society where books are forbidden because they are considered dangerous, and happiness must be obtained through an absence of knowledge and individual thought. The number 451 refers to the temperature at which book paper starts to burn. In the novel, an underground community of people learn books by heart in order to preserve them for the future.

Books are read to remember and written to forget. To memorize a book, or more poetically ‘to learn a book by heart’, is in a way a rewriting of that book. In the process of memorizing, the reader steps for a moment into the place of the writer, or rather becomes the book. The practice of learning a book by heart is an ongoing activity in time, a continuous process of remembering and forgetting. There is nothing final to achieve.

This project by Mette Edvardsen aspires nothing material. Since its inception in 2010, the project has been presented in over fifty bookshops and libraries in different cities, with a growing number of living books in various languages. In Helsinki the project will be presented in Helsinki Kunsthalle in the midst of an ongoing exhibition. The visitor can choose between two Finnish, two Swedish and two English titles.

Mette Edvardsen

The work of Mette Edvardsen is situated within the performing arts field as a choreographer and performer. Although some of her works explore other media or other formats, such as video, books and writing, her interest is always in their relationship to the performing arts as a practice and a situation. Since 1996, Edvardsen has her home base in Brussels, where she started working as a dancer and performer for choreographers Hans Van den Broeck and Christine De Smedt. She has developed her own work since 2002. She presents her works internationally and continues to develop projects with other artists, both as a collaborator and as a performer. Now Edvardsen lives in Oslo.