Clemens Setz

Clemens Setz

Great Art for Banal Reasons

“When someone writes a nice piece of music and it affects me, I always think to myself: how can this happen? He doesn’t know me and has been dead for three centuries.” Meet Clemens Setz, one of Austria’s important young writers.

Clemens Setz did not read until the age of 16. After being forced to quit his favorite drug, computers, due to intense migraines Setz tried different things to distract himself. “I was incredibly bored,” he explains, “nothing is interesting when you no longer have your drug.” The boredom lasted until he found himself crying over a poem by experimental Austrian poet Ernst Jandl. “Not just the pleasant tears of a literary connoisseur, but proper bawling. I never thought that seven lines could have such an effect.” During this interview Setz gives a tender reading of the poem that opened his eyes to the power of writing.

“When someone writes about the mysteries of man or about the unhappiness of being in love or fear of death, they write about things that I also experience.” Comparing reading to traveling, Setz says: “When someone travels a lot, the world doesn’t become smaller, it gets bigger.” Over time reading, like travelling, intensifies in depth and richness of experience, explains the Austrian writer.

For Setz, art is a kind of conversation of caresses and signals in which the readers can recognize themselves. “I am a person who would like to respond to that,” he explains, “not out of virtue, but more like an insecure, childish, pubescent desire to be part of the game one feels is so important.” He himself started by writing parodies at school as a way of getting the absurdity of German lessons out of his system and gradually discovered the magic of literature. “With time, once you discover literature, the benefit of it, this joy, this declaration of love towards strange and dead people.”
Clemens Setz (b. 1982) is an Austrian writer and translator, who debuted in 2007 with the novel ‘Söhne und Planeten’. Setz has received numerous prizes for his work, including the Leipzig Book Fair Prize in 2011 for the short story collection ‘Die Liebe zur Zeit des Mahlstädter Kindes’ and Wilhelm Raabe Literure Prize for ‘Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre’ in 2015. His second novel ‘Die Frequenzen’ was shortlisted for the German Book Prize in 2009, as was his novel ‘Indigo’ in 2012. He lives in Graz, Austria.

Clemens Setz was interviewed by Philipp Alexander Ostrowicz at Rungstedgaard in connection to the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2015.

Camera: Simon Weyhe
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Bunny Rogers

    Mourning Youth

    “You can’t make objective art, it’s going to be subjective.” Watch the praised artist Bunny Rogers (b. 1990) talk about creating autobiographical work that draws from memory and deals with her childhood by archiving her feelings from that time.

  • Ed Atkins

    Something is Missing

    Ed Atkins is considered one of the most unsettling contemporary artists – as well as one of the most exciting. In this video, the young British artist shares how he works from written texts, and why melancholy is at the centre of his animated digital videos.

  • Louisa Gagliardi

    Longing for Something Else

    “Art is amazing because it’s in a way unnecessary, but extremely necessary as a testimony of its time.” Let us introduce you to a rising star of painting, Louisa Gagliardi, who creates her surreal work digitally and adds layers of paint to the printed image.

  • Hannah Levy

    A Design Purgatory

    “I wonder if the reason why people want to touch it is that they’re in some way attracted to it, or if they’re repulsed by it.” Meet the young artist Hannah Levy, who primarily makes sculptures combining curving steel forms with cast silicone.

  • Dora Budor

    Acting Things

    “I want to use art as a field where I can explore parallel scenarios.” Dora Budor makes complex sculptures and interactive installations inspired by cinematic metaverse and scientific research. Join us as we visit the young Croatian artist in her studio.

  • Ian Cheng

    A Portal to Infinity

    Watch Ian Cheng, a rising star on the art scene, talk about his trilogy of animated live simulation works – ‘Emissaries’ – which work like a never-ending video game in real time: “It was a process that was on-going as life is on-going.”

  • Yona Friedman

    Advice to the Young

    What piece of advice would a renowned 94-year-old architect offer young architects? Find out in this short video, where Yona Friedman argues that architects must always adapt to the context and work for the average user.

  • Jan Gehl

    How to Build a Good City

    “We now know that first, we form the cities, but then the cities form us.” Meet the 81-year-old Danish architect Jan Gehl, who for more than fifty years has focused on improving the quality of urban life by helping people “re-conquer the city.”

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.