Taiye Selasi & Colum McCann

Taiye Selasi & Colum McCann

We are all Multi-Local

Meet the distinguished writers Taiye Selasi and Colum McCann in this inspiring talk about finding a way to be yourself, a "citizen of elsewhere", with more than one home and an international identity based on many local experiences.

”What all human beings are looking for to a certain extend, is a way to just be themselves.” A conversation between writers Taiye Selasi and Colum McCann, about writing, time travel, looking for somewhere to call home and about finding ones identity somewhere between the established labels.

The two distinguished writers agree on many things, such as the pleasures of writing and obliterating oneself in the process: ”Becoming other” as McCann calls it. ”I think that anyone who takes fiction seriously knows that he or she must remove himself entirely from the project in order to tell anything true at all” Selasi says.

Both Selasi and McCann have experience with writing music, and Selasi explains how writing has some of the same principles of composition; short and long sentences, rythm, movement, motif, melody, pace, for example. McCann adds: ”The music finds the meaning”

McCann explains that he’s very interested in the clash between ”the supposedly real and the supposedly imaginary”. Reality is full of absurd stories, which nobody would believe in a work of fiction: ”It strikes me that the imagined is as real as what we call reality, and reality itself is deeply imagined.” McCann’s fictional characters are as real as all the people he has never met: ”The imagination lives in this most extraordinary way. Its very very real.”

Selasi finds that ”what all human beings are looking for to a certain extend, is a way to just be themselves, but what many of us are struggeling with, is the weight of group identity, religion, state, colour, imagined things that become real.” The fact is that many people today are ”international bastards” – people who rather than being ”multinational” have what Selasi calls multi-local identities, because: ”The local is the universal, with the walls taken down.”
McCann calls this ”being a citizen of elsewhere.”

Writer Taiye Selasi (b.1979) was raised in Boston, USA. Her mother is a pediatrician from Nigeria and her father is a surgeon and poet from Ghana. Selasi did a BA in American Studies from Yale and an MPhil in International Relations from Nuffield College, Oxford. She has written one novel, Ghana Must Go and two short stories, Bye-Bye, Babar and The Sex Lives of African Girls. She lives in Rome, New York and New Delhi, and also works with photography and film.

Writer Colum McCann (b.1965) was born in Dublin, Ireland and studied journalism. He is a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing in the Master of Fine Arts program at Hunter College, New York. He has won numerous awards for his novels, which include Songdogs, This Side of Brightness, Dancer, Zoli, Let the Great World Spin, and TransAtlantic. His novels have been translated to 35 languages.

Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Ragnar Kjartansson & Mother

    On ’Me and My Mother’

    Every five years, artist Ragnar Kjartansson asks his mother to spit on him for several minutes in front of a camera. The Icelandic mother and son here discuss the fascinating performance, which Kjartansson argues has become “like a part of our family life.”

  • William Kentridge

    Reduced to Being an Artist

    ”One can always write ones biography in the terms of the failures which have saved you.” Meet South African artist William Kentridge in this extensive and humorous reflection upon life and his relationship with art.

  • Alex Da Corte and Ed Atkins

    In Conversation

    “My vote is for incoherence.” We brought together two young artists, who have taken the art world by storm. Experience Alex Da Corte and Ed Atkins in this video where they talk about each other’s video works and their contexts.

  • Joshua Oppenheimer

    Why Do We Watch Non-Fiction?

    Watch Joshua Oppenheimer – the director behind award-winning documentaries such as ‘The Act of Killing’ and ‘The Look of Silence’ – comment on non-fiction’s power to intervene by presenting a different story than the official one.

  • Doug Aitken

    The Conditions We Live Under

    “To reflect the present in a new way is to me one of the goals of creating things.” The iconic artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken here discusses the unique and valuable time we’re living in now, which forces us to innovate how we work – and survive.

  • Erik A. Frandsen

    Drawing Out Memories

    Distinguished Danish artist Erik A. Frandsen here shares how the trance-like experience of a 35 days and 1,050-kilometre long walk was transferred into a stunning exhibition of multi-coloured mosaic columns and beautiful watercolour sketches.

  • David Shrigley

    Advice to the Young

    “You’re on the right track if you’re excited about what you’re doing.” David Shrigley, known for his humorous spin on common situations, here advises his colleagues to be open to learning from mistakes and stresses that being an artist “isn’t for everybody.”

  • Manal Al Dowayan

    Protecting Words

    “The written word is about engaging the viewer.” Let us introduce you to the cool Saudi Arabian artist Manal Al Dowayan, who here shares why she has chosen to integrate words into her art – and why they are so powerful.

  • Rachel Kushner

    On Art and Gender

    “I’m not sure how much gender bias affects my life or not at this moment.” Rachel Kushner, author of the best-selling novel ‘The Flamethrowers’, here comments on gender imbalance in the art world, and what an intricate thing it can be.

  • Clemens Setz

    The Final Sentence

    Clemens Setz is considered one of Austria’s most successful young authors. In this short video he shares how he always tweaks the final sentence of his books until he ends up with something “that won’t seem like an unfair end.”

  • Wura-Natasha Ogunji

    Beauty in the Streets of Lagos

    Performance and visual artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji here shares her intense experience with the four-hour performance ‘Beauty’, where she and a group of other women have their hair braided together in a public space in Lagos, Nigeria.

  • John Baldessari

    Art is who I am

    “I never liked to be called a Los Angeles artist.” Meet conceptual artist John Baldessari, who many describe as a cultural symbol and the grandmaster of the Los Angeles art scene. “My perception of the city is very ugly. But that’s attractive too. It’s very seductive.”