Chris Kraus is a filmmaker and the author of I Love Dick and Aliens & Anorexia, and coeditor of Hatred of Capitalism: A Semiotext(e) Reader. Index called her “one of the most subversive voices in American fiction.” Her work has been praised for its damning intelligence, vulnerability and dazzling speed.
Everyone wants to be an artist. The number of under- graduate students completing fine arts degrees at US colleges doubled in the years between 1985–2010, according to the Digest of Education Statistics. But being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean making drawings or paintings or sculpture or even installations or videos. The desire to pursue a life in “fine art” simply means a desire to respond creatively to the present, just as the disciplines of “poetry” or “rock & roll” were ciphers for countercultural lifestyles in other eras.
published on the occasion of the 2014 whitney biennial
In Where Art Belongs, Chris Kraus examines artistic enterprises of the past decade that reclaim the use of lived time as a material in the creation of visual art. In four interlinked essays, Kraus expands the argument begun in her earlier book Video Green that “the art world is interesting only insofar as it reflects the larger world outside it.” Moving from New York to Berlin to Los Angeles to the Pueblo Nuevo barrio of Mexicali, Kraus addresses such subjects as the ubiquity of video, the legacy of the 1960s Amsterdam underground newspaper Suck, and the activities of the New York art collective Bernadette Corporation. She examines the uses of boredom, poetry, privatized prisons, community art, corporate philanthropy, vertically integrated manufacturing, and discarded utopias, revealing the surprising persistence of microcultures within the matrix.
Set at the dawn of the New World Order, Chris Kraus’s third novel, Torpor loops back to the beginning of the decade that was the basis of I Love Dick, her pseudo-confessional cult-classic debut. It’s summer, 1991, post-MTV, pre-AOL. Jerome Shafir and Sylvie Green, two former New Yorkers who can no longer afford an East Village apartment, set off on a journey across the entire former Soviet Bloc with the specious aim of adopting a Romanian orphan. Nirvana’s on the radio everywhere, and wars are erupting across Yugoslavia. Unhappily married to Jerome, a 53-year-old Columbia University professor who loathes academe, Sylvie thinks only of happiness. At 35, she dreams of stuffed bears and wonders why their lives lack the tremulous sincerity that pervades thirtysomething, that season’s hot new TV show.
Video Green examines the explosion of late 1990s Los Angeles art driven by high-profile graduate programs. Probing the surface of art-critical buzzwords, Chris Kraus brilliantly chronicles how the City of Angels has suddenly become the epicenter of the international art world and a microcosm of the larger culture. Why is Los Angeles so completely divorced from other realities of the city? Shrewd, analytic and witty, Video Green is to the Los Angeles art world what Roland Barthes’ Mythologies were to the society of the spectacle: the live autopsy of a ghost city.
Edited by Chris Kraus and Sylvère Lotringer
Compiled in 2001 to commemorate the passing of an era, Hatred of Capitalism brings together highlights of Semiotext(e)’s most beloved and prescient works. Semiotext(e)’s three-decade history mirrors the history of American thought. Founded by French theorist and critic Sylvere Lotringer as a scholarly journal in 1974, Semiotext(e) quickly took on the mission of melding French theory with the American art world and punk underground. Its Foreign Agents, Native Agents, Active Agents and Double Agents imprints have brought together thinkers and writers as diverse as Gilles Deleuze, Assata Shakur, Bob Flanagan, Paul Virillio, Kate Millet, Jean Baudrillard, Michelle Tea, William S. Burroughs, Eileen Myles, Ulrike Meinhof, and Fanny Howe.
Foreword by Eileen Myles
Afterword by Joan Hawkins
In I Love Dick, published in 1997, Chris Kraus, author of Aliens & Anorexia, Torpor, and Video Green, boldly tore away the veil that separates fiction from reality and privacy from self-expression. It’s no wonder that I Love Dick instantly elicited violent controversies and attracted a host of passionate admirers.I Love Dick is a manifesto for a new kind of feminist who isn’t afraid to burn through her own narcissism in order to assume responsibility for herself and for all the injustice in world—and it’s a book you won’t put down until the author’s final, heroic acts of self-revelation and transformation.
As the rope was tightening around my neck, an Alien made love to me. Belief is a technology for softening the landscape. The world becomes more beautiful when God is in it. Here is what happens inside a person’s body when they starve.-from Aliens and Anorexia
In Aliens & Anorexia, Kraus argues for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor “self-esteem.” Anorexia, Kraus writes, could be an attempt to leave the body altogether: a rejection of the cynicism this culture hands us through its food.