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

  • Joyce Pensato

    Advice to the Young

    Homer, Mickey, Batman! Joyce Pensato – known for her unique work inspired by cartoon and comic book characters – here advises young artists to keep at it, love what they’re doing and, most importantly, “show your work, get it out there!”

  • Ulay

    Advice to the Young

    “If you want and need inspiration – go behind the central station.” The iconic artist – and self-proclaimed anarchist – Ulay here advises young artists to avoid art institutions and to make works that meet their own needs rather than that of the audience.

  • George Condo

    The Artist at Work

    The mind of American artist George Condo has been referred to as a place where “Picasso meets Looney Tunes.” Watch him at work in his New York-studio where he draws and paints his take on a 19th century painting by Manet.

  • Ulay

    Under My Skin

    This is the story of legendary artist Ulay, famous for his collaboration with Marina Abramović. As a solo artist in search for his identity, Ulay’s radical works have pushed the limits of photography and performance using his own body as material.

  • Olga Tokarczuk

    I Absorb Stories

    Olga Tokarczuk – one of the most important Polish writers of her generation – here shares how she draws inspiration from others: “People tell amazing micro-stories or even bigger stories. I seize them, absorb them and transform them in my books.”

  • 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.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Mika Rottenberg

    What is the Connection

    The exceptional video artist Mika Rottenberg here presents her intriguing video installation ‘Cosmic Generator.’ Set on the U.S.-Mexico border and in a huge Chinese market, the work explores the collapse – or reinforcement – of distance.