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

  • Margaret Atwood

    The Woods Inside Me

    “I was carried into the woods in a packsack when I was six months old.” Canadian Man Booker Prize winning author Margaret Atwood here describes her special relationship to the woods, and her first overwhelming meeting with the city.

  • Sammy Baloji

    The Past in Front of Us

    Through his intriguing and poignant pictures, Congolese artist and photographer Sammy Baloji confronts the Western portrayal of his country by linking old photographs from Belgian colonial times with contemporary ones. The result is captivating.

  • COBE

    Monuments of the Future

    Dan Stubbergaard, founder of the internationally praised COBE Architects, takes us around his hometown Copenhagen in Denmark to show and discuss what motivates their exciting socially conscious and highly innovative projects.

  • Juliana Spahr

    Politics in a Poem

    “Politics are constantly shaping literary practices.” Pioneering and conceptually challenging American poet Juliana Spahr here ponders on the tenuous, ever-changing overlap between poetry and politics.

  • Christien Meindertsma

    The Illusion of Safety

    Does increased security make you feel safer? Cool Dutch designer and artist Christien Meindertsma investigates this issue in her compelling art book ’Checked Baggage’, which comprises a week’s worth of objects confiscated in Schiphol Airport after 9/11.

  • Michael Ondaatje

    We Can’t Rely on One Voice

    Man Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje, widely known for the novel ‘The English Patient’, here contemplates how his novels always start with a landscape and end with a conversation. It’s through these different voices that his stories truly come alive.

  • Alfredo Jaar

    Images are not Innocent

    "A million people were killed in 100 days under the criminal indifference of the world". In this interview artist Alfredo Jaar reminds us of the importance of images and why they are not innocent.

  • Michael Ondaatje

    The Music in the Words

    “The rhythm of music has been the biggest influence on my writing – it’s not Wordsworth, it’s Ray Charles.” Michael Ondaatje, one of Canada’s greatest authors, on how music and writing are so connected that they must sometimes be separated.

  • Susan Hiller

    Advice to the Young

    Too many people think that you can only be creative within the field of art: “It’s not just a little ghetto called ‘art’ that allows you to do that.” Internationally acclaimed artist Susan Hiller advises younger colleagues not to make art unless they have to.

  • Susan Hiller

    Stories from the Other Side

    A cascade of voices belonging to people who have been declared physically dead, but lived to tell the story, comes together in a ghostlike installation of 104 screens. Experience the intriguing art installation by the influential American artist Susan Hiller.

  • Jeffrey Eugenides

    Reading from 'The Marriage Plot'

    “The problem of being Superman was that everybody else was so slow.” Enjoy this video of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jeffrey Eugenides reading a hilarious section from his novel ’The Marriage Plot’.

  • Umberto Eco

    Advice to the Young

    Best-selling Italian novelist Umberto Eco here advises aspiring writers not to take themselves too seriously, but to go step by step and remember that: “You’re 10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent perspiration.”