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

  • 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.

  • Tomas Espedal Meets

    Karl Ove Knausgård

    For the first time ever the two giants in Scandinavian literature, Norwegian writers Tomas Espedal and Karl Ove Knausgård, meet on stage – about writing their autobiographical novels where you "have to proceed even though you feel the danger."

  • Daniel Richter

    A German Painter

    “The studio is the sponge and the outside world is the water … The sponge is dipped into reality and then squeezed out.” Daniel Richter, one of the most important painters of his generation, talks about the transformative power of painting.

  • Tiffany Chung

    Maps of Memory

    One of the biggest political and social issues of our time is the refugee crisis. Meet Vietnamese-American artist Tiffany Chung who uses questions of migration, conflict and cultural memory as the raw material for her art.

  • Erik A. Frandsen

    Drawing Out Memories

    Distinguished Danish artist Erik A. Frandsen here shares how the trance-like experience of a 35 days and 1,050-kilometre long walk was transferred into a stunning exhibition of multi-coloured mosaic columns and beautiful watercolour sketches.

  • David Shrigley

    Advice to the Young

    “You’re on the right track if you’re excited about what you’re doing.” David Shrigley, known for his humorous spin on common situations, here advises his colleagues to be open to learning from mistakes and stresses that being an artist “isn’t for everybody.”

  • Manal Al Dowayan

    Protecting Words

    “The written word is about engaging the viewer.” Let us introduce you to the cool Saudi Arabian artist Manal Al Dowayan, who here shares why she has chosen to integrate words into her art – and why they are so powerful.

  • David Shrigley

    Everything that is Bad About Art

    "One tends to think of oneself as being somewhat more functional and dynamic than one actually is.” Join the incomparable David Shrigley for a thorough and humorous talk about making art that some people think is absolute rubbish.