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

  • Ed Atkins

    Something is Missing

    Ed Atkins is considered one of the most unsettling contemporary artists – as well as one of the most exciting. In this video, the young British artist shares how he works from written texts, and why melancholy is at the centre of his animated digital videos.

  • Louisa Gagliardi

    Longing for Something Else

    “Art is amazing because it’s in a way unnecessary, but extremely necessary as a testimony of its time.” Let us introduce you to a rising star of painting, Louisa Gagliardi, who creates her surreal work digitally and adds layers of paint to the printed image.

  • Hannah Levy

    A Design Purgatory

    “I wonder if the reason why people want to touch it is that they’re in some way attracted to it, or if they’re repulsed by it.” Meet the young artist Hannah Levy, who primarily makes sculptures combining curving steel forms with cast silicone.

  • Dora Budor

    Acting Things

    “I want to use art as a field where I can explore parallel scenarios.” Dora Budor makes complex sculptures and interactive installations inspired by cinematic metaverse and scientific research. Join us as we visit the young Croatian artist in her studio.

  • Ian Cheng

    A Portal to Infinity

    Watch Ian Cheng, a rising star on the art scene, talk about his trilogy of animated live simulation works – ‘Emissaries’ – which work like a never-ending video game in real time: “It was a process that was on-going as life is on-going.”

  • Yona Friedman

    Advice to the Young

    What piece of advice would a renowned 94-year-old architect offer young architects? Find out in this short video, where Yona Friedman argues that architects must always adapt to the context and work for the average user.

  • Jan Gehl

    How to Build a Good City

    “We now know that first, we form the cities, but then the cities form us.” Meet the 81-year-old Danish architect Jan Gehl, who for more than fifty years has focused on improving the quality of urban life by helping people “re-conquer the city.”

  • 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.