Chris Kraus Interview: Changing Lives
Experience American writer Chris Kraus, author of the iconic feminist novel ‘I Love Dick’, in this passionate talk about the apolitical art scene and the challenges of being a woman in our contemporary consumer-focused world.
“Everything in the art world gets transacted under the table, and I take it out from under the table and put it on the table.” Finding that her career had stalled, Kraus chose to take an anthropological approach to her experiences and look at how the game in the art world was played. Instead of viewing her situation as a failure of her art or of her person, she chose to focus on the conditions that led to it. The novel ‘I Love Dick’ can thus be seen as a form of case study, that people can recognize their own experiences in, or even – as Kraus later came to realize – a ‘bildungsroman’: “It’s the story of the woman finding herself at middle-age. And maybe because I was the woman I never quite saw it that way.”
Kraus expresses her disappointment with the art world and its passive response during the invasion of Iraq: “I remember living in L.A. during those years and really feeling like a Nazi-collaborator. No one in the art world was talking about what was going on.” The art world of today still mostly talk about politics in the abstract rather than dealing with the actual issue, which is part of the reason why Kraus addresses political issues in her independent publishing house Semiotext(e): “There’s an urgency to talk about real things. Unfortunately, so much of it quickly gets ossified into discourse and that kills it. Maybe there should be a loop back to more realist, political literature, because that humanizes these conditions and it makes us understand the complexity of the human situation.”
“The condition of the young girl is a metaphor of consumer life. The consumer life was always meant to be lived for an audience and never for oneself.” In our marketing-oriented world, self-spectatorship and the pressure of finding oneself is enormous, Kraus argues, and there’s a growing discrepancy between the relationship between inside and outside. In continuation of this, she feels that it is important to look outside of oneself, to one’s inspirations: “Really that’s the whole western tradition of literature – one writer cannibalising another, one artist becoming another.”
Chris Kraus (b. 1955) is an American writer and filmmaker. She is widely known for her feminist novel ‘I Love Dick’ (1997), which the English newspaper The Guardian proclaimed “the best novel written about men and women in the 20th century”. The novel follows Chris, who falls in love with her husband’s younger colleague Dick, and along with her husband plunges into an art project, writing love letters to Dick. According to the author the book is based on real events, which she has turned into a fable about desire and patriarchy, and about finding creative resolution on the edge of annihilation. When ‘I Love Dick’ was reissued in 2006 it aroused great attention. In 2016 the novel was turned into a TV series by the same name. Among Kraus’ other books are the novels ‘Aliens & Anorexia’ (2000) and ‘Summer of Hate’ (2012) as well as the biography ‘After Kathy Acker’ (2017).
Chris Kraus was interviewed by the feminist activist and public speaker Emma Holten (http://www.emmaholten.com/) at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival in August 2017.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard and Henrik Kaarsholm
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced by: Christian Lund
Cover photo: Klaus Holsting
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Supported by Nordea-fonden
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