Headlands Center for the Arts

Marta Bausells

Spain/UK | writing
Artist in Residence Program 2020

Artist Statement

My work often involves the myth of reinvention, the ways we crave and deprive ourselves of connection, language and miscommunication, and our fraught relationship with nature. My non-fiction work deals with historical memory and inherited histories, erasures and omissions, and art and creativity, usually centering on women and queer people, and sometimes focusing on the Spanish Civil War and dictatorship. My fiction is more eclectic and still hard to pin down thematically, as I am at a generative, intuitive stage, but it often centers on relationships—especially friendship and love—and the power dynamics within. I have almost always written in English, my adopted language, and I find liberation, play, and clarity in it. All writing is a form of translation, but I am interested in the tensions and challenges of navigating the extra layers of cultural and linguistic negotiation that some of my work might bring up.

While at Headlands

I will be working on my as-yet-untitled novel, which follows Catalan women who inserted themselves into the promises of the English-speaking world in their youth, only to find, as things start teetering in their 30s and the world takes an ever-darker turn, that the lives they thought they desired and deserved may have been an illusion. It is set in California, London, and Barcelona and is about lifelong friendship, dysfunctional relationships, chosen families, obsession and projection, loss and longing, code-switching, the urge to run away, and the weirdness of returning. 

These characters live between cultures and sexual identities, are struggling to fit into the many roles set out for them, and seek to reclaim their agency, their own bodies, and attachment that doesn’t feel performed for an invisible audience, or brand-mediated. I’m interested in the stories people tell themselves in these periods of life-altering change: in the space between numbness and revelation.

Selected Works

“Letter of Recommendation: Tió de Nadal,” New York Times, December 20, 2018. (PDF)

“Letter of Recommendation: Saturn,” New York Times, November 30, 2017. (PDF)

“On Being a Trend,” The Millions, April 30, 2018.

“Looking for Paris’s Old Left Bank in the Footsteps of Simone de Beauvoir,” Literary Hub, July 24, 2018.

Personal Website