Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt

Art is a Memory

“Every painting is always two paintings: The one you see, and the one you remember.” Interview with the renowned writer Siri Hustvedt on her strong personal relationship with art and on how she sees image and text as very different experiences.

In this interview American writer Siri Hustvedt (b.1955) explains how the experience of art is always a deeply personal one, which we keep with us as a memory, like meeting a person: “The work of art we carry around with us is a memory, not like the original.“ Since we’re always changing, always becoming, it is possible to return to a piece of art years later and have a completely new experience, and in this way Hustvedt has rediscovered art more than once: “Either because I failed to notice something, or because I wasn’t in a position to notice.”

Hustvedt explains how she attempts to make a kind of translation of her experience of a work of art into an essay, but how “the word is always an abstraction, in a way that looking at an image is not.” Hustvedt also talks about curiosity, sensitivity, over stimulation, Goya, and having to sometimes look away. Art is supposed to affect us and alter us, she says: “I’m never interested in what I can easily understand.”

Siri Hustvedt has written poetry, novels, essays, and a work of non-fiction. Her books include What I Loved (2003), The Sorrows of an American (2008) and The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves (2010).

The essay "Why Goya?", that Siri Hustvedt is reading in the film, is from her collection of essays: "Living, Thinking, Looking" published in 2012.

Siri Hustvedt was interviewed by Synne Rifberg at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, May 2013.

Camera by Klaus Elmer

Editing: Kamilla Bruus

Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner, 2013

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Supported by Nordea-fonden.

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