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

  • 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.