Chris Kraus: FILMS BEFORE AND AFTER
1 June–13 October 2019
Opening: 31 May 2019, 17:30–21:00
Opening event: Fri 31 May, 17:30–21:00 with a reading from Chris Kraus and a conversation with the Index team
How to discover the limits? How to feel what we see? How to understand what we feel? Chris Kraus has been circulating around failure, desire, obsession, desperation and self-construction using several formats and cultural practices. Best known for her work as an acclaimed writer with the ability to combine fiction, theory, chronicle, philosophy and a political approach, Chris Kraus also worked with moving image during the 80s and 90s.
Chris Kraus is a cultural icon. Writer, editor and art critic Kraus has published novels that have become references on how to combine subjective experiences with theory and art. Her novels include art criticism, and her works of theory offer connections with every day experiences. However, Chris Kraus is also a filmmaker that produced a series of films dismantling preconfigured formats and ways to understand the emotional connection to the production of knowledge.
Being part of the 80s and 90s New York art and philosophical scene, Kraus produced a series of films with several layers and ambitions: long, short, experimental, funny or uncomfortable. Her films did not conform to a clear cinematic genre and did not get the distribution that Chris Kraus was aiming for. At the same time, other male colleagues had no problem getting recognition and visibility. This situation was considered a failure, but it became a trigger for her literature. In many of Chris Kraus’ books we find direct references to her films and to what happened with them. As an example, we can follow the vicissitudes around a film like Gravity and Grace (1996) as the main issue for her second novel Aliens & Anorexia. Throughout her literature the cross referencing of her films and moving image pieces make appearances.
The exhibition Chris Kraus: Films Before and After at Index presents the complete filmic production by Chris Kraus with films made between 1982 and 1995. The films are presented together with some examples of her crossovers between film and literature. Pages of novels such as I Love Dick, Aliens & Anorexia, Torpor or Summer of Hate, and theory books such as Where Art Belongs or Video Green are part of this exhibition that focuses on Kraus ability to jump between film, literature, then go back to film again. Books that embrace cinematographic structures and characters connecting fiction to reality. Films with literary structures and with references to Simone Weil or Antonin Artaud. The films by Chris Kraus can be seen in the exhibition and they can also be felt through reading her novels and theory writings. Both options are asking for time, the time to know the writer and filmmaker that opens her life and experiences to become a mirror or a possibility, a set of words and feelings, a way to see and share the world.
The films in the exhibition offer a variety of options from experimental exercises with layers of texts to narrative broken structures, from performative situations to visual constructions, from theory to practice, from desire to frustration. The films by Chris Kraus are a condensed approach to multiple ideas coming from philosophy and the voracity of life. To look back at the films today, over 30 years later, gives us the opportunity to think about historicity, distance, nostalgia and reflections, while observing ideas and power-based relationships still dominant today.
The public program of Index’ exhibition is made in collaboration with Modernista book publisher and Kulturhuset-Stadsteatern. We want to express our gratitude to Olivia Barrett and Château Shatto in Los Angeles. Index is supported by Kulturrådet, Stockholms Stad and Region Stockholm. This exhibition has been included as well as part of the Baltic tour organised by PUBLICS (Helsinki) presenting the films in screenings in Helsinki and Riga at LCCA.