“Devoting countless hours to learning books by heart seems to contradict every principle governing what we understand by human effort from modernity. Whether it be an artistic or life experience, it seems an obvious and unjustifiable waste of time. It creates nothing new, no new idea that changes or improves the state of things, no new image that helps us to comprehend our problems".
“Learning by heart is perhaps the best possible reading of a book, by a reader who is moved and captivated, willing to learn the text in such a way that it becomes an integral part of her living organism”.
Victoria Pérez Royo
“Autorías Subterráneas. Texto, cuerpo y vida en Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine” en Tropelías. Revista de Teoría de la Literatura y Literatura Comparada (2), 2017
The Museo Reina Sofía presents, in a collaboration with the Oslo Biennial (2019–2024), Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine, by choreographer Mette Edvardsen, a project in which people from different countries learn books of their choice by heart. Together they form a library collection of “living books” which, at stipulated points, are available to the public in the form of individual encounters from which to recite what has been learned to a visitor.
Time has fallen asleep… focuses on the importance of memory and word of mouth, on producing conditions of encounter between people, on proximity, intimacy and care, by dint of a liking for highly divergent books: novels, essays, poetry, prose. The title comes from a phrase that appears in Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, which is set in a future society where books are forbidden, causing a community of people to go underground to learn the last existing books with a view to conserving them. Thus, in this activity learning by heart is done as an ongoing practice in time. The project aspires to nothing material — learning a book by heart means to take on a continuous process of recalling and forgetting.
Between 2020 and 2021, the Museo will welcome, in different formats, public events devoted to searches in this specialised library. On this first occasion, two new living books have been produced in Spanish. People who are interested can request the reading-transmission of these two books in the Museo Reina Sofía Library, or receive any of the five books listed at the top by post. Therefore, a total of seven living books — two in an in-person, oral format and five received by mail — form the catalogue of this first public moment.
Since its inception in 2010, the project has been presented in over fifty book shops and libraries in different cities, with a growing number of living books that make up a library currently holding 88 titles in English, French, Arabic, Dutch, Norwegian, Greek, German, Polish, Estonian, Swedish, Danish and Greenlandic.
Mette Edvardsen lives between Oslo and Brussel and works in the sphere of stage arts and performance, in addition to her explorations in other mediums and formats such as video and the publishing and experimental composition of books. Due to her training as a dancer and participation in choreographic projects and prestigious companies like les ballets C de la B and Mårten Spångberg, her work is often framed inside the field of dance. Perhaps it is the place from which she investigates modes of generating practices and situations, although her work does break out beyond such disciplinary limits, delving into hard-to-classify terrains, with an interest in the relationship between language and action running through the centre of her work. Edvardsen is currently a researcher at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts and an associated artist at the Black Box theatre in the same city. She is also a founder, with Juan Domínguez, Alma Söderberg and Sarah Vanhee, of the collaborative platform Manyone.
Living books available:
In oral format:
- Amuleto (1999), by Roberto Bolaño
- La hora de la estrella (1977), by Clarice Lispector
- Bartleby the Scrivener (1853), by Herman Melville
- A Handbook of Disappointed Fate (2018), by Anne Boyer
- Mrs Dalloway (1925), by Virginia Woolf
- Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969), by Kurt Vonnegut
- I Am a Cat (1905), by Soseki Natsume
With the sponsorship of: