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Chris Kraus - Biography

Chris Kraus is a Los Angeles-based writer and critic whose novels include I Love Dick, Torpor and Summer of Hate. Writing in the New York Times, Holland Cotter describes her as "one of our smartest and original writers on contemporary art and culture." Leslie Jamison, writing for the New Yorker, describes her work as "a bright map of presence … an uncannily coherence 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."

Chris received her BA from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and worked as a journalist before moving to New York in 1978. There, she studied acting with Ruth Maleczech of Mabou Mines and economic theory with Arthur Felderbaum at the New York School for Marxist Education. She wrote and produced several plays, including the highly acclaimed Disparate Action/Desperate Action (1980). In 1983, began making films. Culminating with the feature film Gravity & Grace (1993), her movies were rarely screened or discussed until 2008, when Cinzia Friedlaender Gallery (Berlin) and Real Fine Arts (Brooklyn) presented retrospectives of her film work. Several museum retrospectives were presented in the ensuing years.

In 1996, one year after leaving New York for LA, she produced The Chance Event – a three-day 'philosophy rave' - with Jean Baudrillard, Rosanne Alluquere Stone, DJ Spooky, Diane DiPrima and others in a Nevada casino. The Chance Event was considered instrumental in establishing LA as a new artistic center in the mid-1990s. Archival materials from the event will be featured in a forthcoming exhibition at Redcat in LA.

Chris' first book, I Love Dick, was published in 1997 by Semiotexte, the independent press of which she is a co-editor with Sylvere Lotringer and Hedi El Kholti. Initially dismissed as a 'confession' – Artforum called it "a book not so much written as secreted" – the book continued being read and is now considered a late-20th century classic. Her second novel Aliens & Anorexia appeared in 2000, followed by Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness (2004), Torpor (2006), Where Art Belongs (2011) and Summer of Hate (2012). Two monographs on conceptual art, border issues and economic activism, Kelly Lake Store (Reed College) and Lost Properties (Semiotexte Whitney Biennial Pamphlets) were published in 2012 and 2014. With Sylvere Lotringer, she co-edited the Semiotexte anthology Hatred of Capitalism in 2001.

Kraus has contributed to anthologies including Akademie X (Phaidon, 2015), Yayoi Kusama (Rizzoli, 2013), Ryan McGinley (Rizzoli, 2012) and publications including Artforum, Bookforum, N+1, Tin House, Sydney Review of Books, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, Texte zur Kunst, Spex and Spike. She is a contributing fiction editor to Bomb magazine.

She has taught writing at UC San Diego, NYU, San Francisco Art Institute, Los Angeles Contemporary Archives and at European Graduate School and is presently working on a biography of the American writer Kathy Acker.

Chris Kraus is a Professor of Film at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where she conducts an Intensive Summer Workshop.