César Aira

César Aira

The Queen of the Arts

“Literature is the queen of the arts – the greatest of them all, because it embraces them all. When you write, you are making music, painting, drawing, cinema.” Meet the unique, secretive César Aira in this rare interview.

"You will have to travel to the south of Argentina to find the most original, the most shocking, the most exciting and subversive Spanish-speaking author of our time" Spanish newspaper El País wrote of César Aira.

“I write every day because I take pleasure in it.“ Argentinian writer César Aira, called 'the Marcel Duchamp of Latin America', talks about his love of literature, and how he sees himself as a “reader who also writes” and how he prefers to write in secret, while hidden away in his home.

César Aira was very inspired by the early avant-garde. “I think it is the function of the writer, the artist, to always create something new” he says, but adds that he does not see himself as true avant-garde, since he is not a nihilist. His interest is in creating stories, using his imagination, his writing to create pictures to be seen.

Aira is is loved by many fellow writers, such as Roberto Bolano, Patti Smith and Nicole Krauss. In this interview he explains that he decided to be a writer, because he couldn't paint, play music or make movies. As a mature man, Aira realized that literature is the greatest art form of them all, because it embraces them all. "When you write, you are making music, painting, drawing, cinema” he explains.

César Aira (b.1949) has published over eighty books of stories, novels and essays, half of which contain less than twenty pages. Since 1993 Aira has written two to four books each year. Aira has taught at the University of Buenos Aires (about Copi and Rimbaud) and at the University of Rosario (Constructivism and Mallarmé), and has translated and edited books from France, England, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and Venezuela.

César Aira was interviewed by the Danish writer Peter Adolphsen at the Louisiana Literature festival 2012. Adolphsen also translated Aira's words into English in this video.

Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Ragnar Kjartansson

    on Stage with his Mother

    The "mother with child" is one of the oldest clichés in the art historical vocabulary. Performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson grew up in the theatre with an actress-mother who has played a crucial role in his life as an artist, attuning him to what he calls "the realness of fakeness"

  • Cathrine Raben Davidsen

    Paintings of Loss

    Artist Cathrine Raben Davidsen was only 13 years old when she lost her father. “I started making art because I lacked words. Art was my way of dealing with loss.” Meet an artist whose work is a meditation on loss, both personal and societal.

  • 8 Artists on Sound

    Captivating, agonizing, nostalgic – sound can induce a plethora of experiences. In video artist Bill Viola’s words: “like angels, sound can cross between the physical and the nonphysical world.” Hear how he and 7 other artists inhabit the sonic world.

  • Linn Ullmann

    At That Point it Became Possible to Write

    “Subterfuge is very liberating. It helps you be as truthful as you can.” Award-winning writer Linn Ullmann discusses memory and autobiography on the occasion of her latest novel, which treats the relationship between herself and her famous parents.

  • Carlos Cruz-Diez

    The Colours We Create

    “I always say that I do not make paintings or sculptures, I make support for events.” Follow Carlos Cruz-Diez, leading figure in Op Art since the 1960s, into a world of chromatic experience.

  • Carlos Cruz-Diez

    Advice to the Young

    Franco-Venezuelan artist Carloz Cruz-Diez has a lifetime of advice saved up for young artists – even though they may not want to listen. “They should do what I did: try to invent art and new discourses.”

  • Karl Ove Knausgård

    Literature Should be Ruthless

    Karl Ove Knausgård has enchanted the literary world with ‘My Struggle’, a novel of more than 3000 pages about his own life. Watch the star author discuss literature, writing and how his autobiographical style is closely connected to fiction.

  • Ann Veronica Janssens

    Passion for Light

    Step into the laboratory of an artist whose main material is light. Whether solid, liquid or gaseous Ann Veronica Janssens uses light in all its forms “to show the manifestations of reality in a different way.”

  • Athi-Patra Ruga

    A Glimpse of Utopia

    “Somehow resistance is what validates an identity. Growing up gay, black and non-Christian, it kind of is something I love playing with.” Athi-Patra Ruga's sensuous work makes us question everyday life.

  • Catherine Opie

    A World Beyond Selfies

    “I was never an optimist in thinking that my images would change laws. But I certainly thought that I would be able to create a history.” Catherine Opie, photographer of minority groups and subcultures, can be both political and very internal.

  • Peaches

    Love Your Vagina

    ”It’s most important right now that men be feminists. If women say they aren’t it’s only because the word is not relating to them and we need to find new terms.” Electronic musician and performance artist Peaches wants us to question norms.

  • Alex Da Corte & Jørgen Leth

    Eminem and Warhol

    Two American icons portrayed eating. Young Alex Da Corte, who impersonated Eminem for a year, was inspired by film director Jørgen Leth, who made an iconic scene with Andy Warhol. Here they meet on stage to talk about the stunning parallels.