Professor of Creative Writing at The European Graduate School / EGS.
Chris Kraus (b. 1955) is a Los Angeles–based writer, art critic, and editor whose novels include I Love Dick (1997), Torpor (2006), and Summer of Hate (2012). Her writing navigates and mediates seamlessly between autobiography, fiction, philosophy, and art criticism. She teaches creative writing and art writing at The European Graduate School / EGS and has been a visiting professor at the Art Center College of Design, the University of California at San Diego, New York University, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Los Angeles Contemporary Archives. Along with Sylvère Lotringer and Hedi El Kholti, Kraus is coeditor of the influential publishing house Semiotext(e), which has introduced much of contemporary French theory to an American audience, and published writers such as: Abdellah Taia, Veronica Gonzalez Pena, Mark Von Schlegell, Robert Gluck, Natasha Stagg, and Dodie Bellamy.
While Chris Kraus was born in New York City, she spent her formative years in New Zealand. Politically and intellectually active at a young age, Kraus began her studies at the age of sixteen in literature and political theory at the Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), where she obtained her Bachelors degree. During that time, she also started working as a journalist writing for the Sunday Times and the Evening Post. Kraus moved back to New York City in her early 20s and began to study acting with Ruth Maleczech of Mabou Mines and economic theory with Arthur Felderbaum at the New York School for Marxist Education.
Before turning to fiction writing and art criticism, Chris Kraus wrote and produced several plays, including the highly acclaimed Disparate Action/Desperate Action (1980). And in 1983, she began making films, culminating with the feature film Gravity & Grace (1996). Her movies were rarely screened or discussed until 2008, when the Galerie Cinzia Friedlaender (Berlin) and Real Fine Arts (Brooklyn) presented retrospectives of her film work. While several museum retrospectives were presented in the ensuing years, Chris Kraus still considers herself a failed filmmaker.
A year after leaving New York for Los Angeles, in 1996 Kraus produced and curated The Chance Event––a three-day “philosophy rave” at Whiskey Pete’s Casino on the border of Nevada and California––with Jean Baudrillard, Rosanne Allucquère Stone, DJ Spooky, and Diane DiPrima, among others. The Chance Event, which received much media attention, was considered instrumental in establishing Los Angeles as a new artistic center in the mid-1990s.
After abandoning filmmaking, Kraus’s writing turned towards fiction and novel writing, with her first book, I Love Dick, published in 1997 by Semiotext(e). The autofictional novel chronicles her obsessive pursuit of a cultural critic named Dick and her attempts to transform it into a new kind of philosophy. She is aided in this pursuit by her then-husband, Sylvère Lotringer. At the time of its publication, it was dismissed as a “confession,” with Artforum calling it “a book not so much written as secreted.” In 2015, John Douglas Miller of The White Review describes it as “clear prose capable of theoretical clarity, descriptive delicacy, articulate rage and melancholic longing.” The book continues to be widely read, and is now considered a late-20th century classic. Kraus’s second novel, Aliens & Anorexia, appearing in 2000, “argues for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor ‘self-esteem.’” Her third novel, Torpor (2006), addresses the dawn of the New World Order, and is, as Josef Strau writes in Artforum, “More intense than any of the recent literary attempts to portray Europe’s dark, post-1989 narrative of traditionalism and neoconservatism, Torpor is probably the book to deal with the past’s haunting of the political present.” Her most recent novel, Summer of Hate (2012), which made Artforum‘s “Best of 2012” list, was succinctly described by the magazine’s Travis Jeppesen, who wrote: “It might take a decade or two, but eventually people will come around to the fact that this is the most definitive novel of the Bush Years we’re likely to get. One of few novels brave enough to delve into the concept of moral integrity in the context of American intellectual life, it only reveals that every act of generosity is doomed to fail when it is performed within the context of a hyper-capitalistic infrastructure.”
Kraus’s books on art, more specifically, include Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness (2004), which chronicles the explosive LA art scene in the late 1990s, and Where Art Belongs (2011), a collection of essays examining “artistic enterprises of the past decade [2000s] that reclaim the use of lived time as a material in the creation of visual art.” In 2012, Kraus conceived and co-curated the exhibition Radical Localism: Art, Video and Culture from Pueblo Nuevo’s Mexicali Rose for Artists Space in New York and, following, published the monograph Kelly Lake Story & Other Stories (Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College; Companion Editions), which “dwells in out-of-the-way places––communities and landscapes obscured by poverty and decline.” Kraus published a second monograph, Lost Properties, on conceptual art and economic activism, for the 2014 Whitney Biennial. She has contributed widely to anthologies, including: Akademie X, (Phaidon, 2015), Secret Power (Mousse Books, 2015), Yayoi Kusama (Rizzoli, 2013), Ryan McGinley (Rizzoli, 2012); and regularly to publications, such as: Artforum, Bookforum, N+1, Tin House, Sydney Review of Books, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Texte zur Kunst, Spex, and Spike. As well, with Sylvère Lotringer, she co-edited the Semiotext(e) anthology Hatred of Capitalism in 2001, and she is a contributing fiction editor to Bomb magazine.
Lauded for her diversity, and originality, Kraus has been described as “one of our smartest and original writers on contemporary art and culture” by Holland Cotter of the New York Times, and her work as “an uncannily coherent landscape, a kind of hyperintellectual, hypersexual, digital-era Yoknapatawpha that moves back and forth across the Atlantic, across the Mexican border, across the Soviet bloc” by Leslie Jamison in the New Yorker. In 2008, she received the Frank Jewett Mather Award for art journalism from the College Art Association, the jury of which stated: “Regardless of genre or medium, Kraus’s works exemplify honesty, wit, and plot. She transforms art writing’s possibilities by rescuing theories of privilege, gossip, and feminism from their occasional tumbles into the lackluster. Never one to hold her tongue, Kraus helps other women speak with equal force.”
A new collection of stories and essays, La Tienda de Ramos Kelly Lake, translated by Cecilia Pavón, is forthcoming from Cruce Casa Editoria (Buenos Aires) in 2016, and published this year by Mute Books is the collection, You Must Make Your Death Public: A Collection of Texts and Media on the Work of Chris Kraus, edited by Mira Mattar. Presently, Chris Kraus is working on a critical biography of the American writer Kathy Acker.
Written by Christian Hänggi
You Must Make Your Death Public, Kraus, Chris, and Jeppesen Travis. You Must Make Your Death Public. Edited by Mira Mattar. Mute, 2015. ISBN: 1906496641
Summer of Hate, Kraus, Chris. Summer of Hate. Semiotext(e), 2012. ISBN: 1584351136
Where Art Belongs, Kraus, Chris. Where Art Belongs. Semiotext(e), 2011. ISBN: 1584350989
Catt: Her Killer, Kraus, Chris. Catt: Her Killer. Belladonna Editions, 2009. ISBN: 0976485788
Trick, Kraus, Chris. Trick. Sacrifice Press, 2009.
LA Artland: Contemporary Art From Los Angeles, Kraus, Chris, Jan Tumlir, and Jane McFadden. LA Artland: Contemporary Art From Los Angeles. Black Dog Publishing, 2005. ISBN: 1904772307
Torpor, Kraus, Chris. Torpor. Semiotext(e), 2006. ISBN: 158435027X
Torpor: (ROMAN, Kraus, Chris. Torpor: (ROMAN). Translated by Stephanie Wurster. Afterword by Karolin Meunier. b-books, 2015. ISBN: 3942214067
Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness, Kraus, Chris. Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness. Semiotext(e), 2004. ISBN: 1584350229
Aliens & Anorexia, Kraus, Chris. Aliens & Anorexia. Semiotext(e), 2000. ISBN: 1584350016
I Love Dick, Kraus, Chris. I Love Dick. Semiotext(e), 1997. ISBN: 1570270465
Boredom The Triumph of Power
Kraus, Chris. “Boredom The Triumph of Power.” Introduction to Two Screenplays, by Laura Parnes. Participant Press, 2009.
Kraus, Chris. Introduction to Pornocracy, by Catherine Briellat. Semiotext(e), 2008. ISBN: 1584350474
4185 Sea View Lane
Kraus, Chris. “4185 Sea View Lane.” In Jorge Pardo. Phaidon Press, 2008. ISBN: 0714846589
Kraus, Chris. “Article.” In Animal Shelter: Art, Sex and Literature, Issue 1. Semoitext(e), 2008. ISBN: 158435075X
Kraus, Chris. Introduction to In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, by Jean Baudrillard. Semiotext(e), 2007. ISBN: 1584350385
Kraus, Chris. “Trick.” In Working Sex: Sex Workers Write About a Changing Industry, edited by Annie Oakley. Seal Press, 2007. ISBN: 1580052258
Kraus, Chris. “Whole.” In The Uncertain States of America, edited by Noah Horowitz and Brian Sholis. Sternberg Press, 2006. ISBN: 1933128186
Kraus, Chris. “Mixmaster.” In The Impulse Anthology, edited by Eldon Garnet. University of Toronto Press, 2005. ISBN: 0802087876
Kraus Chris. Introduction and End Notes to Madame Bovary. Barnes & Noble Press, 2005. ISBN: 1593080522
Correspondences: Letters to Ann
Kraus, Chris. “Correspondences: Letters to Ann.” Avatar Bodies: A Tantra for Post-Humanism, edited by Ann Weinstone. University of Minnesota Press, 2004. ISBN: 0816641463
Kraus, Chris. “Fear, Anxiety, Longing: How To Shoot A Crime.” In (In)Visible Cities, edited by Robert Sargent. Teoma Press. 2004.
Kraus, Chris. “Art Collection.” In Obsession, Compulsion, Collecting, edited by Anthony Kiendl. Banff Centre Press, 2004. ISBN: 1894773055
Kraus, Chris. “The Blessed.” In Pills Chills ‘n Thrills, edited by Michelle Tea and Chad Wickham. Alyson Books, 2004. ISBN: 1555837530
Hunger Technology Emotion
Kraus, Chris. “Hunger Technology Emotion.” In Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative, edited by Robert Gluck. Coach House Books, 2004. ISBN: 1552451429
Kraus, Chris. “Dear John.” In Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters From the End of the Affair, edited by Anna Holmes and Francine Prose. Robson Books, 2004. ISBN: 1861056885
Take My Advice
Kraus, Chris. “Take My Advice.” In Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation, edited by James Harmon. Simon & Schuster, 2002. ISBN: 0743210921
Kraus, Chris. “Emotional Technologies.” In Flesh Eating Technologies, edited by Sara Diamond. 2002.
Ecceity, Smash & Grab, The Expanded ‘I’ and Moment
Kraus, Chris. “Ecceity, Smash & Grab, The Expanded ‘I’ and Moment.” In French Theory In America, edited by Sande Cohen and Sylvere Lotringer. Routledge, 2001. ISBN: 0415925371
Add It Up
Kraus, Chris. “Add It Up.” In Posted Love, edited by Sophie Jerram. Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN: 0140290109
The Pain Journal
Kraus, Chris. “The Pain Journal.” Foreword to Pain, by Bob Flanagan. Semiotext(e), 2000. ISBN: 1584350024
Kraus, Chris. “The Exegesis.” In Cream: Artists and Writers for the New Millennium, edited by Susan Kandel. Phaidon, 1998.
The Complete Poem
Kraus, Chris. “The Complete Poem.” Mayrevue, March 2010.
The Cult of Freedom
Kraus, Chris. “The Cult of Freedom.” Roland Magazine, March 2010.
Catt: Her Killer
Kraus, Chris. “Catt: Her Killer.” Joyland Magazine, January 2010.
Kraus, Chris. “Lisa Kirk.” Artforum, June 2009.
Kraus, Chris. “Candice Breitz.” Artforum, December 2009.
Pauline Stella Sanchez
Kraus, Chris. “Pauline Stella Sanchez.” Artforum, January 2009.
Szenen Einer Ehe
Kraus, Chris. “Szenen Einer Ehe.” Edit Magazine, 2008.
Stick to the Facts
Kraus, Chris. “Stick to the Facts.” Texte Zur Kunst Magazine, June 2008.
Fabrique en Canada: Heyd Fontenot and Patrick DeCoste at Pouch Cove Gallery, Newfoundland
Kraus, Chris. “Fabrique en Canada: Heyd Fontenot and Patrick DeCoste at Pouch Cove Gallery, Newfoundland.” C Magazine, June 2008.
Kraus, Chris. “On Suck.” Artforum, May 2008.
Kraus, Chris. “What Happened Was.” Black Clock magazine 8, Spring (2008).
Deleuze at the Mandrake
Kraus, Chris. “Deleuze at the Mandrake.” Spike Magazine, September 2007.
Kraus, Chris. “Renee Petropoulos.” Artforum, June 2007.
Kraus, Chris. “Clifton, Arizona.” The Rambler, 2007.
Kraus, Chris. “Unreliable Witness.” Pataphysics magazine, 2007.
Border Film Project Show
Kraus, Chris. “Border Film Project Show.” Artforum, February 2007.
Deployment of Narrative
Kraus, Chris. “Deployment of Narrative.” Journal of Visual Culture Vol. 5, No. 1 (2006).
Border Film Project Show
Kraus, Chris. “Border Film Project Show.” Spike Magazine, December 2006.
Best of 2006
Kraus, Chris. “Best of 2006.” Artforum, December 2006.
Culture Time – featured essay
Kraus, Chris. “Culture Time – featured essay.” Spike Magazine, March 2006.
Torpor: Art From Los Angeles
Kraus, Chris. “Torpor: Art From Los Angeles.” C Magazine, ongoing column.
Kraus, Chris. “Haunted Houses.” Pataphysics Magazine, 2005.
Get Rid of Yourself
Kraus, Chris. “Get Rid of Yourself,” Index Magazine, June/July 2004.
Kraus, Chris. “Temporal Protocols.” C magazine, Winter 2004.
Excerpt from Torpor
Kraus, Chris. “Excerpt from Torpor.” Landfall Magazine, June 2003.
My Paris, My Paranoia (prose of Gail Scott
Kraus, Chris. “My Paris, My Paranoia (prose of Gail Scott).” Index Magazine, September 2003.
Write To Me (poetry of William Bronk)
Kraus, Chris. “Write To Me (poetry of William Bronk).” Index Magazine, April 2003.
Kraus, Chris. “Eldon Garnet.” Art in America, July 2002.
Julie Becker, essay
Kraus, Chris. “Julie Becker, essay.” Texte zur Kunst, September 2002.
Dead & Buried
Kraus, Chris. “Dead & Buried.” Art/Text, Fall 2002.
Torpor, ongoing column
Kraus, Chris. “Torpor, ongoing column.” Art/Text, 1999-2001.
Kraus, Chris. “Ivan Morley.” Art in America, June 200
Kraus, Chris. “Survivor.” Pataphysics, 2002.
Jane Dickson, essay
Kraus, Chris. “Jane Dickson, essay.” Art in America, 2001.
The History of Semiotexte
Kraus, Chris. “The History of Semiotexte.” Revue des Revues, 2001.
The Public I
Kraus, Chris. “The Public I.” New Narrativity web magazine, 2001.
Kraus, Chris. “Luzerne.” Made in USA, 2001.
God is Evi
Kraus, Chris. “God is Evil.” More & Less, 2001.
Kraus, Chris. “Girls, Interrupted.” The Nation, Fall 2000.
Bo and the Gypsies
Kraus, Chris. “Bo and the Gypsies.” Log 10 (2000).
Kraus, Chris. “Military Culture.” Art/Text, Fall 2000.
Kraus, Chris. “Blue Tape.” Feed magazine, Fall 2000.
Private Parts, Public Women
Kraus, Chris. “Private Parts, Public Women.” The Nation, Fall 1999.
Theater and Emotion
Kraus, Chris. “Theater and Emotion.” Chimieres, 2001.
Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off
Kraus, Chris. “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” Art/Text, January 1999.
Kraus, Chris. “Pay Attention.” Art/Text, April 1999.
Posthumous Lives – Part 1
Kraus, Chris. “Posthumous Lives – Part 1.” Art/Text, July 1999.
Posthumous Lives – Part 2
Kraus, Chris. “Posthumous Lives – Part 2.” Art/Text, October 1999.
Kraus, Chris. “Deep Chaos.” Art/Text, December 1999.
Dan Asher, interview and essay
Kraus, Chris. “Dan Asher, interview and essay.” Night magazine, October 1998.
Joseph Kosuth’s Birthday Party
Kraus, Chris. “Joseph Kosuth’s Birthday Party.” Artnet, 1998.
Kraus, Chris. “December 21.” XXX Fruit diary issue (1996).
Gravity & Grace film script excerpt
Kraus, Chris. “Gravity & Grace film script excerpt.” Sensitive Skin, 1995.
Sadness at Leaving, film script excerpt
Kraus, Chris. “Sadness at Leaving, film script excerpt.” Now Time, 1995.
Kraus, Chris. “Speedwriting.” Batteria, 1992.
Kraus, Chris. “Taking Advantage.” Portable Lower East Side, 1992.
From San Francisco to Oakland: North Korea’s Cultural Future
Kraus, Chris, and Maxi Kim. “From San Francisco to Oakland: North Korea’s Cultural Future.” 3:AM Magazine, August 2, 2010.
Kraus, Chris, and Selah Saterstrom. “Interview.” N Sky Vol. 4, No. 2, August (2006).
Chris Kraus in Conversation with Denise FrimeR
Kraus, Chris, and Denise Frimer. “Chris Kraus in Conversation with Denise Frimer.” Brooklyn Rail, April 21, 2005.
Gravity & Grace
Gravity & Grace. Directed by Chris Kraus. Lonely Girl Films, 1996.
Sadness at Leaving
Sadness at Leaving. Directed by Chris Kraus. 1992.
Traveling at Night
Traveling at Night. Directed by Chris Kraus. 1991.
The Golden Bowl or Repression
The Golden Bowl or Repression. Directed by Chris Kraus. 1990.
Voyage to Rodez
Voyage to Rodez. Directed by Chris Kraus. 1986.
Terrorists in Love
Terrorists in Love. Directed by Chris Kraus. 1985
In Order to Pass
In Order to Pass. Directed by Chris Kraus. 1982.