Linn Ullmann

Linn Ullmann

At That Point it Became Possible

“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.

The ninth child of legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and only child of actress Liv Ullmann, author Linn Ullmann grew up surrounded by artists between New York, USA, Oslo, Norway and her father’s house in Fårö, Sweden. At the age of 87, her father had the idea to write a book together with his daughter. Young Linn would ask the questions and he would answer. The book never materialised, but the transcripts of six tender conversations between father and daughter form the backbone of Ullmann’s novel and the point from which the plot unfolds. Dramatically composed through multiple viewpoints, the novel changes between narrators and temporalities. Like an event experienced differently by each person present, it is an exploration of perspectives that starts with the telling line: “it all depends on where you stand.”

The least interesting thing to Ullmann in writing ‘The Troubled’, she explains in this interview, was her parents’ fame. She was interested in three artists, three human beings. The personal character of the subject matter, the fact that her parents were known and loved by many people, did however become an obstacle for Ullmann while working on the book. It was “like playing at the shoreline and fearing people’s reactions,” she describes. In the end the only way to proceed was to let go of the considerations of truth: “I tap into my own experiences, but in order to do that I had to recreate us as if we didn’t exist other than in that novel. I recreated us as fictional characters,” says the author and muses over the nature of autobiography: “What does it mean to write autobiographically? How trustworthy is our memory? It is both rich and creative, but also totally untrustworthy.” In the end, she believes, all of her work treats the same questions and themes: “I think a recurring theme is that my characters are imperfect. They are vulnerable and restless. But they keep fighting. That blend of being eager to fight and vulnerable is what I write about.”

Linn Ullmann (b. 1966) is a Norwegian author, journalist and literary critic. She published her first novel, ’Before You Sleep’ in 1998 and has since published 5 critically acclaimed international bestsellers. She has received several prizes for her work, among others the Gold Pen and the Norwegian Reader’s Prize. Her latest novel, ’De Urolige’, published in 2016 has been nominated for the Critic’s Award and the Nordic Council’s Literary Award.

Linn Ullmann was interviewed by Annette Dina Sørensen in connection to the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in 2016.

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

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Sambuichi

    Why Hiroshima Became Green Again

    Hiroshi Sambuichi – one of the leading green architects of our time – here reflects on his hometown Hiroshima and how “the power of nature” helped the landscape to restore so rapidly following the atomic bombings during World War II.

  • Michael Kvium

    Circus Europe

    “It’s a constant pleasure for me that I can get people so worked up.” Join us for a studio visit with painter Michael Kvium, particularly known for his characteristic figurative imagery. He here talks about addressing contemporary issues through his art.

  • Chris Kraus

    Changing Lives

    Experience American writer Chris Kraus, author of the iconic feminist novel ‘I Love Dick’, in this passionate talk about the apolitical art scene and the challenges of being a woman in our contemporary consumer-focused world.

  • Laurie Anderson

    A Virtual Reality of Stories

    In this exclusive video, Laurie Anderson presents her prizewinning virtual reality work from 2017: “I wanted to see what it would be like to travel through stories, to make the viewer feel free,” the legendary multimedia artist says.

  • Paul Auster

    Unhappy Unrest

    Paul Auster is one of the USA’s most important contemporary writers. In this short video, he speaks his mind about the growing right-wing and Donald Trump: “I think he’s the most dangerous being that has ever existed in public office in the United States.”

  • 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

    Social Surrealism

    She finds her odd “bigger than life characters” on the internet. In her peculiar, dreamlike video works they use their bodies as means of production creating what the artist calls “a spiritual kind of Marxism.” Meet the incomparable Mika Rottenberg!