Chris Kraus: A Literary Confession

Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 8:00 pm

Programmed by Amy Kazymerchyk

Chris Kraus in attendance

The novelist and critic Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick (1997), Aliens and Anorexia (2000), Where Art Belongs (2011), and Summer of Hate (2012), has been called “one of our smartest and most original writers on contemporary art and culture” (Holland Cotter, New York Times). Before she wrote prose and criticism, Kraus made experimental films. Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967) introduced her to film’s potential to sustain conceptual and dialectic complexity without defaulting to parody — a flaw she found in experimental performance. At the time she felt that theoretical language and philosophy resonated more in moving images and pictorial text than in poetry. Filmmaking became a form of pilgrimage for Kraus: an acute practice of following her compulsion for poetry, phenomenology, literature, nostalgia, and memory. Kraus makes her first laceration ‘through nostalgia into the future’ in In Order To Pass (1982), a film that features the printed text of philosopher-turned-gynaecologist Irene Crofton. The mythology of modernist icon Antonin Artaud, and the 1980s fascination with Artaud, emerges in the bodies of clones in Foolproof Illusion (1986). Georges Bataille and Henry James meet in the back of a cab in Golden Bowl or Repression (1984/88), noted by photographer Nan Goldin for its dissection of “romance, mystification and the inability to connect.” How to Shoot a Crime (1986) is perhaps Kraus’ most densely dialectic film, conflating police crime scene videos, gentrification at the Fulton Street Seaport, and pop sadomasochism.


In Order to Pass1982, 30mins.
Voyage to Rodez. 1986, 14mins. Co-director: Sylvère Lotringer.
How to Shoot a Crime1986, 30mins. Co-director: Sylvère Lotringer. 
Foolproof Illusion1986, 18 mins.
The Golden Bowl or Repression1984/88, 14mins.
Terrorists in Love1983, 6mins.

Chris Kraus is a writer and art critic living in Los Angeles. She teaches writing at the European Graduate School (Switzerland) and is a co-editor of the journal Semiotext(e).

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Co-presented with “Scrivener’s Monthly,” a “series of public presentations that explore the space between material practices and spoken words: a periodical that talks,” at Western Front. Chris Kraus will read from Summer of Hate (2012) on Friday, November 2, at 8:00 pm, at Western Front. On Monday, October 29, at 6:00 pm, she will speak about her book Where Art Belongs (2011) at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, in the Lecture Theatre. Both events are free.