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.

  • Salman Rushdie

    A line had to be defended

    "It wasn't only about me. It was a moment, when a line had to be held when you could not concede the fight", says the author of The Satanic Verses, Salman Rusdie, in this outtake from a longer interview about his life and work.

  • Darren Almond

    The landscape of the night

    The landscape of the night is like a Jackson Pollock painting - you know it's a Pollock straight away. You can read every mark within miliseconds, you feel the void, there is this calmness, that comes upon you. Interview with British artist Darren Almond about his series of full moon pictures.

  • Daniel Richter

    On Emil Nolde

    Emil Nolde was a Nazi - and so what, asks contemporary German artist Daniel Richter. "It's a moralistic debate. A debate, that mirrors the moralism and bigottery of a generation that seems to think, that the world is a moral playground."

  • Ian McEwan

    Reading from 'Sweet Tooth'

    During the Cold War CIA and MI6 funded cultural fronts. To promote the open societies agents had to operate in deep secret, an absurdity that drew Ian McEwan to write the spy novel ’Sweet Tooth’, which he reads from here.

  • Jørgen Leth

    Andy Warhol eating a hamburger

    Let acclaimed film director Jørgen Leth take you through the iconic scene with Andy Warhol eating a hamburger from his film, 66 Scenes from America.

  • Thomas Demand

    A world of models

    We realize how the world looks through models, says German artist Thomas Demand in this interview. And we live with models all the time - in science, media, even the weather-forecast is a model. Without models, we would go mad within seconds.

  • Shirin Neshat

    The power behind the veil

    "Nothing is ever beautiful without some disturbance or violence. That is why the melancholy of my works is so familiar to the people." Interview with the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat.

  • Bill Viola

    The tone of being

    Aside from a magical visual side, Bill Violas videos are always accompanied by marvelous sound. In this interview Viola talks about the importance of sound in his work and how he is guided by a kind of 'undersound'.

  • John Giorno

    Poets are mirrors of the mind

    Meet one of the great originators of performance poetry, John Giorno, as he looks back at his first meetings with poetry, his great influences, the importance of performing without a book, and where poetry is headed in the future.

  • Sarah Sze

    The meaning between things

    ”A sculpture is constantly growing and dying at the same time. It is a parallel process of construction and deconstruction.” Meet contemporary artist Sarah Sze in her New York studio.

  • Agnes Obel

    Diving into memory

    "Music is a sphere outside that of language. It's a different way of being present", says Danish singer-song-writer Agnes Obel. "That's why it is so beautiful to enter."

  • Chimamanda Adichie

    beauty does not solve any problem

    I am drawn to the beauty of sentences, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie confesses in this interview. Nevertheless it is important to keep a distance to your characters.