Chris Kraus born  is an American writer and filmmaker. Video Green , Kraus' first non-fiction book, examines the explosion of late s art by high-profile graduate programs that catapulted Los Angeles into the center of the international art world. In the late s she was a member of The Artists Project , a City-funded public service venture of painters, poets, writers, filmmakers and dancers. Her work as a performance and video artist satirized the Downtown scene's gender politics and favored literary tropes, blending theatrical techniques with Dada , literary criticism, social activism, and performance art. Kraus is Jewish and deals with many spiritual and social aspects of Judaism in her works. She says that her parents attended Christian church and did not tell her that her family is Jewish until she moved back to Manhattan at age 21, possibly to shield her from antisemitism.
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In a new series, Chris Kraus talks to her long-time friend and editor Hedi El Kholti about the books, authors and landscapes that have influenced her as a writer and filmmaker. This October she will publish a new novel, entitled Summer of Hate. I remember ditching school and hitchhiking to New Haven to see the Black Panthers around , It must have been for the Black Panther Defense Fund; there was kind of an occupation in the park organized, probably, by Yale students.
The Panthers were out on bail. Ericka Huggins was speaking, she was totally luminous, and I think Bobby Seale too. That was my first real influence. HEK Was it the politics, or the energy from the group? CK It was both. The politics were indisputable.
And the Panthers were so eloquent. Their speeches were short, more like testimonials — describing the situation, its causes and their programme for action in just a few words. They seemed driven by purpose. The white radicals, probably Yale kids, were in thrall to them.
It felt very real. And, beyond that, my naive recognition that it might be possible to escape from unhappiness just by changing the channel … Instead of getting beaten up at my blue-collar grade school, just by sticking my thumb out, I could be at the centre of history! In a sense, Semiotext e was a continuation of that. HEK Right, but how do you make the juncture between politics and literature? CK Both are an extreme kind of presence.
I think my books are like that. CK And the awareness of that is a kind of ecstasy. Knowing that five hours away in Mexicali, this completely other life, unimaginable to us, is transpiring. That always blows me away — the sense that another life is always there, and you could step into it.
HEK I guess I get that more from reality tv than real life. CK [laughs] Yeah. But William S. Burroughs said this great thing about writing: a good writer is really a travel correspondent, because writing always involves taking a journey somewhere and then reporting on it. CK The narrator is trying to sell her failed film at a film market. Things that are irreparable. More than nature, the romance of New Zealand for me was the romance of a small, closed society. What amazed me, even more than the work, was that almost every participant in French intellectual and political life had been in the same class, or within a few grades — they all knew each other.
CK No, that was all trash. HEK Meaning? CK A bunch of self-appointed misfits creating small dramas; it had nothing to do with the larger culture. CK And they are great artists. But that was never my romance. CK Longing. HEK For communities or for political action? CK For a culture that remains more or less intact. We could never say that in the us.
I come from a country where I saw people line up around the block for visas. That would be a huge achievement, just getting a passport. To be able to go somewhere. His book Man Alone  is set during the Great Depression — the main character is hiding out in the bush, on the lam after the riots in Auckland.
His second book, Report on Experience  was a chronicle of the Spanish Civil War, which he attended. When I started writing years later, I remembered it. HEK Using your own experience to talk about something larger. And I also had literary models, writers I thought I was ghosting.
CK Plot-wise, that was a reference. A joke. But Gustave Flaubert was also the greatest writer. Very simple. Actually, the two writers who influenced me most working on Summer of Hate [forthcoming, ] were Patricia Highsmith and Chester Himes.
And then something violent happens. Psychologically, she is so realistic. CK He was like a grenade thrown into the landscape of American writing in the mid-century. He spent seven years of his youth in prison for an attempted robbery. And when he got out, he had so much to say about his life, and race and American culture, and he did it in the most blatant, straightforward way. It was really angry and vicious, highly descriptive and funny.
CK Sex used to be how it happened. HEK Yeah, in gay bars. CK Even straight sex — well, at least for men. In Summer of Hate , the female character, Catt Dunlop, comes from our world, but travels to Albuquerque to buy distressed buildings. The people she hires to help fix up the buildings turn out to be either formerly homeless or incarcerated. Of course, we all know this. When Catt falls in love with Paul Garcia, his legal problems become hers.
People step outside the plot to speak these almost Homeric monologues. The best writing gives an accurate report of internal experience. The crisis at the beginning of the book is that the character has achieved a certain level of cultural currency in her field. The narrative of going to India.
CK Looking for something else. The Poetry Hike? That was so brilliant, really a coup. Turning the boring fact of another poetry reading on tour into an adventure.
No one is stopping us from stepping out of the grid. But who would do that? That was amazing. HEK Yeah, it was. I remember one time this band Pan Sonic organized a tour. They were on Blast First, a great record label. They said they only wanted to play the weirdest places.
This was in They ended up playing in Tijuana and Easter Island. And I went to that. Is this what you had in mind? HEK Really? CK Yeah. We apologize to her for the mistake. Skip to main content. Twitter Facebook Email To Pinterest. By Chris Kraus. Chris Kraus: My Influences. Chris Kraus. Issue Jun - Aug More Influences Previous Next. My Influences: Roee Rosen. Life in Sound: Evan Ifekoya. Most Read Previous Next.
Chris Kraus (American writer)
It seems that Kraus believes no space is entirely barren, or incapable of sparking inspiration. She goes on to say:. From its manufacturing philosophy of vertical integration to its marketing and the deliberate location of its gallery-esque stores in urban neighborhoods on the cusp of gentrification, American Apparel resonates against the economic and psychogeographic state of the culture like a gigantic work of conceptual art. As an artwork, it is breathtakingly brilliant in ambition and scope. Kraus shows that the contemporary world is linked by unlikely connections—a world where prison laborers make computer keyboards that generate profits for a corporation that funds a foundation, a foundation which, in turn, supplies mosquito-netting to an African country to prevent malaria on a grand scale. Tracing such disparate connections is an art unto itself. With technology, distance has collapsed, and with physical distance, other barriers and demarcations, too.
Unlikely Connections: Chris Kraus’s Where Art Belongs
Make a tax-deductible donation today and help us continue to publish online and in print. No contribution is too small. As editor at the influential publishing concern Semiotext e and as the author of both novels and non-fiction, she has done as much as any contemporary writer to continually and fruitfully test the distinction between artist and critic, and to transform the rules of the "badly paid livelihood" where she has staked her claim. Though also less explicitly polemic than some of her previous writerly and editorial outings with Semiotext e , Where Art Belongs nonetheless retains a firm political grounding.
Where Art Belongs
Distributed for Semiotext e. 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 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. 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. For all its faults, Kraus argues, the art world remains the last frontier for the desire to live differently. Chris Kraus [is] one of our smartest and most original writers on contemporary art and culture. Writer and filmmaker Chris Kraus is searingly aware of the discourse in which she functions, and transforms it into something redolent of Simone Weil's poeticism and its daunting theoretical undercurrents.
Chris Kraus: My Influences
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 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. 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. For all its faults, Kraus argues, the art world remains the last frontier for the desire to live differently.