Olga Grjasnowa

Olga Grjasnowa

A Book can Save Your Life

“I’m not sure whether society has really learnt anything from the Holocaust.” She began her life in Germany as an immigrant and became painfully aware of the prejudice that still exists. Meet young Azerbaijan-born novelist, Olga Grjasnowa.

“We were always taught that we could do better. And if we failed, then it was our own fault.” Grjasnowa’s parents were conformists, and she grew up reading only books that were permitted in the Soviet Union, nurturing a deep fascination with the Soviet hero stories.

When the family was forced to move, due to the bloody riots between Armenia and Azerbaijan, she was introduced to a new eye-opening literary world: “One can understand certain coherences better by reading books.” The move, however, also resulted in a sense of displacement still predominant in her writings: “I believe I only have the roots, not the beliefs. I see it as a cultural performance.”

Olga Grjasnowa (b. 1984) grew up in Azerbaijan in the Caucasus and has spent extended periods in Poland, Russia and Israel. She moved to Germany at the age of twelve and has studied at The Institute for Literature in Leipzig. Her first novel, ‘All Russians Love Birch Trees’ (2012), is set in Frankfurt, Germany and follows a young Jewish immigrant named Masha. The novel, which reflects many elements from Grjasnowa’s own background, became a major award-winning success. Of her literary career, Grjasnowa comments: “I think that I’m more interested in reading than writing. I think that writing is just a by-product.”

Olga Grjasnowa was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Literature festival at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2013.

Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Svetlana Alexievich

    A Human is a Scary Creature

    Nobel Prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich is known for her monumental non-fiction narratives exploring war and its aftermath in the former Soviet Union. In this video she discusses the role of the writer in a corrupted society permeated by money.