On Learning Books by Heart
Mette Edvardsen

For the project Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine* a group of people dedicates itself to memorizing a book of their choice. Together they form a library collection consisting of living books. How is this process one of learning, and how much can we learn by heart? How does memory function over the course of time? How long does it last? What does it mean to develop a practice, where the value of something is in itself rather than for something else? In a time where forgetting has become a virtue, memory is considered superfluous and useless. With the support of technology, importance is given to the access of information and how to navigate it. But technology does not simply make information available, it also shapes the way we relate to it and what information is. In a world constantly defined by the new, memory may be seen as a resistance to forgetting and learning by heart as a gesture against efficacy and utility.

*During the conference days two “living books” will be available to be read at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Readings take place as one-to-one encounters where a “book” recites its content to a “reader”.

Mette Edvardsen’s work is situated within the performing arts field as a choreographer and performer. Although some of her works explore other media or formats, such as video, books and writing, her interest is always in their relationship to the performing arts as a practice and a situation. With a base in Brussels since 1996 she has worked for several years as a dancer and performer for a number of companies and projects. Since 2002 she develops her own work and presents her performances internationally. A retrospective of her work was presented at Black Box theatre in Oslo in 2015. In 2010 she initiated the project Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine to develop learning by heart as a practice, a process which is still ongoing today. She contributes to publications, and regularly teaches, mentors and is involved in jury work at several arts institutions. She is currently a research fellow at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts.