Support Long-term Thinking
Support Long-term Thinking

Library of Water

by Austin Brown on August 10th, 02012

Long Now supporter Brian Suda writes in from Iceland to tell us about an art installation there that has collected water from 24 glaciers:

In the sleepy little town of Stykkishólmur, Iceland is a very interesting long-term project entitled “Vatnasafn” or “Library of Water”. The artist Roni Horn created an art installation in the old City Library in 02007. There are four parts to the exhibition, the beautiful building and view, the floor which is covered with weather terms in English and Icelandic, weather reports and finally the collection of water.

The library is a mesmerizing 24 volume collection of floor to ceiling water cylinders each containing water from one of the 24 glaciers of Iceland, including the now extinct Ok glacier).

When you enter the exhibit the towering columns of mostly clear water force you to think about these resources in a different way. We use water without even thinking, every time we wash our hands, take a shower or a bath, and cook our food. To put water on display in this way as a symbol or what we have and what we have lost makes for an interesting examination on our priorities.

Unlike a seed bank, we won’t be recreating that lost glacier from the water saved in this library. This is a collection that brings together nature from all across the Icelandic country into a single place. It shows how temporal nature and the weather can really be. With the worries of retreating and disappearing glaciers, to have a collection of a small slice of hydrological history is unique.

The website for the installation has a great map and a slideshow of where all the water came from.

Thanks, Brian!