”Literature was a place, where I could recognize things, that I thought were only felt by me.” Meet Norwegian writer Linn Ullmann for a conversation about literature, writing and the obligation of the author to be critical of power.
Having moved homes frequently as a child, Linn Ullmann (b. 1966) got an early affection for literature: ”Often being the new girl in the class, I always had a book with me”. Ullmann – the daughter of actress Liv Ullmann and film-maker Ingmar Bergman – grew up with images and narratives: ”I grew up in a family, who told stories.”
Film played an important role in Ullmann’s upbringing: ”Often I watched movies several times a day and I think, that the cinematic element plays a big role in my books as well. When writing, I think in images.”
In her stories, Ullmann has never been interested in the lonely self, she explains: ”I want to see what happens, when people meet and interact with each other. The self is created through someone else’s presence.”
”I think that my three last novels – ’Grace’, ’A Blessed Child’ and ’The Cold Song’ – are all trying to make life work. Try to be there for other people, but without succeeding.”
Finally, Ullmann says, that the duty of all artist is to write about and expose power. ”There is nothing worse than an artist, who sucks up for power.” Besides that though, one should be careful with imposing something on literature and writers. After the terror-attacks on July 22, 2011 for example, ”people have called for writers to come forward and say something.” But sometimes expectations like that end in something vulgar. ”I believe, that the best books and works about July 22, this big national tragedy, will first be published many years from now.”
Linn Ullmann was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Louisiana Literature in 2012.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Edited by: Martin Kogi
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013
Supported by Nordea-fonden