Chris Kraus Looks Toward the Margins in New Book ’Social Practices’ – Chris Kraus在新书《社会实践》中寻找利润

I wish we didn’t have to read Chris Kraus, and this week I read her aloud to my students, quoting passages on Kate Newby, Henry Taylor and Channa Horwitz, all from her new book Social Practices (Semiotext(e) 2018)Kraus’s criticism is generous and warm. But, it is written from a world I wish we didn’t live in.

Cobbled from interviews and monographs, obituaries and essays, the book is born of failures: her marriage, meritocracies, the humanities – and the larger failure that seems all too apparent now in the US. Kraus’s response lies in plumbing society’s margins and sidelines. She finds common cause with her dentist in Tijuana and borderlands art spaces working to build a community. She writes too of being a stripper and in another piece seeks comfort in an old blanket. In that essay, ‘Blanket’, she moves from the blanket she brought to America to women artists using blankets, Marx and immanence and the idea that objects have power, as well as her dog’s favourite toy. Her own failures are also on view, including her rejected Guggenheim grant application, where she planned to run a store in rural Minnesota.


Chris Kraus Looks Toward the Margins in New Book ’Social Practices’ - Chris Kraus在新书《社会实践》中寻找利润

Chris Kraus, Social Practices, 2018. Courtesy: Semiotext(e)

Despite the idea of store-as-art and the book’s title, the collection isn’t a ringing endorsement of social practice or relational aesthetics with their strategy of soups and parks or tree houses in housing estates with artists, writers and philosophers quoting theory. Instead she seeks the social itself. In ‘Kelly Lake Store and Other Stories’, she elaborates on her reasons to run the store in the small community in Minnesota where she lives part-time. She quotes depressing statistics on rural populations and doesn’t say she wants to change or edify that community, not bring them ‘art’, just fit a basic need – something I understand. I live in just such a place in upstate New York and serve on my volunteer fire department, because the VFD is the most basic civic institution here, and others are willing to wake at 3am to save my and my neighbours’ lives. I feel a responsibility to participate in my small town. So, does Kraus, and now as more and more artists leave unaffordable cities and migrate from the centers of the art world, this kind of participation could be edifying for everyone and break down partisan divides. That’s not the goal, however, or at least not mine and not Kraus’s.

Finding a unitary theme in an anthology culled from such diverse sources is tricky, so too in her novels, but she often positions the edges as a strategy for dealing with white male power. In her introduction, she describes Yayoi Kusama’s decision to live in a mental hospital after grappling with the art world. In ‘Kate Newby’s Bones’, she weaves together stories of friends – all women – who died young. Newby, who I’ve written about and collaborated with, limns out small details that might seem insubstantial, making puddles and pebbles and drawing on carpet in chalk. She brings attention to elements we could easily ignore, and Kraus marries that ‘slightness’ to those marginalized women, drawing an analogy between them and the subtle power of Newby’s work and the attention it demands. 

In her obituary for the American artist Channa Horwitz, Kraus quotes a male teacher who’d exhorted Horwitz, ‘Be as free as you can … throw paint’ and her response: ‘If I wanted to experience freedom, I needed to reduce all my choices down to the least amount.’ So too Kraus, who fixates on a lost coffee scoop and Walter Benjamin, who could himself take what had been seen in his time as marginal – kids’ toys, advertising, shopping and the cinema – and render it monumental. He also embraced writing in aphorisms, a form that can read as small and fragmentary and whose approach anticipates Kraus’s. 


Chris Kraus Looks Toward the Margins in New Book ’Social Practices’ - Chris Kraus在新书《社会实践》中寻找利润

Kelly Lake Store, Kelly Lake, Minnesota, 2011. Courtesy: Chris Kraus and n+1 magazine

Kraus’s language is so clear, so straightforward, it is incandescent, and in class two weeks ago we had to pivot from her words to those used in the Senate chamber. Brett Kavanaugh yelled about being a ‘victim’ and Christine Blasey Ford testified about his attack but never used the word victim. White male privilege was on show for all to see, and Blasey Ford would ask her interrogators, ‘Is this good?’ She’d say, ‘I’m a congenial person.’ 

What if we didn’t make such accommodations? What if Kraus didn’t have to embrace finding freedom from the margins? We are in a moment not simply where a frat-boy binge-drinker seeks and finds absolution on the public stage, but also where, on the other side, millions clamor for change. We have the rise of Democratic Socialists, Black Lives Matter and Me Too all of whom are fighting for distributed, egalitarian power with broad definitions and intersections. 

I met Chris when I was not much older than my students and studying with her ex-husband Sylvère Lotringer and struggling with art history. She was the first to tell me I was a writer, before she herself was writing. She was making films and editing books (books she writes about here) mostly by women, all first-person. They could be messy, with questions of sex and power, and Kraus quotes novelist and publisher Emily Gould:

Why do women who aren’t afraid to humiliate themselves appall us so much, and why do we rush to find superficial reasons to dismiss them (‘she’s crazy’ ‘she’s a narcissist’ she’s young’ ‘she’s a famewhore’)? I think in part because they pose a threat to the social order which relies on women’s embarrassment to keep them either silent or writing in socially acceptable modes.

It took me a long time to appreciate that position. It scared me. Chris’s novels at first scared me. They felt claustrophobic and dizzying as if I was shoved in too close and my own raw, red sides were exposed. 

When I dropped out of grad school, heavy, theoretical language was wielded like a cudgel. We were deep in the October moment, and I thought success demanded that women be monsters. (I was also a stripper and would joke that stripping was more honest than academia). I was floundering. Right now, though, we’re in a different moment, one where women are called out too for being monsters when they cross the same lines as male aggressors, and Kraus is caught up in the storm. She defended Avital Ronell who did act like a monster.    

A predator is a predator, whether it’s a teenaged drunk or a professor and her grad student. That wasa world where women had to find their own strength as negotiated against male power. I don’t want my students to inherit that realm. The options there are too binary: top or bottom, monster or victim. 


Chris Kraus Looks Toward the Margins in New Book ’Social Practices’ - Chris Kraus在新书《社会实践》中寻找利润

Chris Kraus, 2018. 

In her introduction Kraus writes, ‘Like everything else, art will always be transactional.’ I used to believe this, but I don’t want everything to be transactional; I want a greater possibility for idealism, for utopias, for living without limits. In the failures of the humanities, art has become, she writes, the place of last resort where disciplines like writing – and often experimental writing – can flourish. Art welcomes refugees from those fields. It certainly has me. And Kraus has led the way creating new paths for arts writing and critical thinking, not from wielding a cudgel but exposing our bruises, from being bruised herself and willing to show it.

But, what if … What if Channa Horwitz hadn’t found freedom in two shapes and two colours? What if Henry Taylor didn’t have to paint his grandfather shot by white men and know that this could be, as he says in later interviews, him too? What if I hadn’t found stripping a way out of the monsterhood I saw in grad school? What if our systems weren’t transactional, what if Kraus’s writing could be appreciated as great literature from a moment long passed? Don’t get me wrong, I love her writing. I love her visions of the communal and social as a solution. 

Socialist anarchist Emma Goldman wrote of love and power in 1906: If partial emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be sweetheart and mother, is synonymous with being slave or subordinate. It will have to do away with the absurd notion of the dualism of the sexes, or that man and woman represent two antagonistic worlds.

Pettiness separates; breadth unites. Let us be broad and big. Let us not overlook vital things because of the bulk of trifles confronting us. A true conception of the relation of the sexes will not admit of conqueror and conquered; it knows of but one great thing: to give of one’s self boundlessly, in order to find one’s self richer, deeper, better. That alone can fill the emptiness, and transform the tragedy of woman’s emancipation into joy, limitless joy.

Until then I have Chris Kraus, writing about blankets and comfort, immanence and Marx. Or her lost coffee scoop, weaving it in with a letter written in 1936 by an anonymous woman:

At some point one must ask at what point is it better to devote one’s mental focus to simply getting over the plastic scoop and as they say, ‘moving on’? Asking yourself this question is like asking what’s real. Can you notice the daylight stretching out? How do we accommodate loss, how do we live alongside it?

Main image: Henry Taylor, THE TIMES THAY AINT A CHANGING, FAST ENOUGH!, 2017, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy: the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo; photograph: Cooper Dodds

Jennifer Kabat

Jennifer Kabat is a writer based in upstate New York, USA. She teaches at New York University and the New School and is working on a book of essays titled Growing Up Modern.

Opinion /

Chris Kraus
Channa Horwitz
Henry Taylor
Kate Newby
Jennifer Kabat

我希望我们不必读克里斯·克劳斯,这周我向学生大声朗读了她,引用了凯特·纽比、亨利·泰勒和钱娜·霍维茨的新书《社会实践》(Semiotext(e)2018)中的段落。但是,它是从一个我希望我们没有生活的世界写成的。从采访、专著、讣告和散文中捏造,这本书生来就失败了:她的婚姻、精英政治、人文科学——以及更大的失败,这在美国现在似乎太明显了。克劳斯的回应在于管道社会的利润和旁观者。她在蒂华纳和边疆艺术空间找到了共同的事业,致力于建立一个社区。她写的也是脱衣舞娘,而另一只则在旧毯子里寻找安慰。在这篇名为《毯子》的文章中,她从她带到美国的毯子变成了女艺术家,她们使用毯子、马克思和内在,以及物体具有力量的观念,还有她的狗最喜欢的玩具。她自己的失败也在考虑之中,包括她被拒绝的古根海姆补助金申请,她计划在明尼苏达州农村开一家商店。JPG Chris Kraus Looks Toward the Margins in New Book ’Social Practices’ - Chris Kraus在新书《社会实践》中寻找利润 Chris Kraus,社会实践,2018。礼仪:半文本(e)尽管书店是艺术品,书名也是如此,但该书集并不像艺术家、作家和哲学家那样,以汤、公园或林荫大院为策略,强烈支持社会实践或关系美学。引用理论。相反,她追求的是社会本身。在《凯利湖商店和其他故事》中,她详细阐述了她在明尼苏达州的小社区经营这家商店的理由。她引用了令人沮丧的关于农村人口的统计数据,并没有说她想改变或启迪那个社区,不给他们带来“艺术”,只是满足基本的需要——我明白的。我住在纽约州北部的这样一个地方,在消防志愿部门工作,因为VFD是这里最基本的公民机构,其他人愿意凌晨3点起床来救我和邻居的生命。我觉得有责任参加我的小镇。克劳斯也是如此,现在越来越多的艺术家离开负担不起的城市,从艺术世界的中心迁徙过来,这种参与可以启发每个人,打破党派分歧。然而,这不是我的目标,至少不是我的目标,也不是克劳斯的目标。在从如此多样的来源中挑选出的选集里找到一个统一的主题是很棘手的,在她的小说里也是如此,但是她经常把边缘定位为对付白人男性权力的策略。在她的介绍中,她描述了草间弥生与艺术世界搏斗后住在精神病院的决定。在《Kate Newby的骨头》中,她编织了一个朋友的故事——所有年轻的女人。纽比,我写过关于他的文章,也和他合作过,他写出了一些看似虚无的细节,制作水坑和鹅卵石,用粉笔在地毯上画画。她把注意力集中到我们可以轻易忽视的因素上,克劳斯把这种“轻微”嫁给了那些被边缘化的妇女,使她们与纽比作品的微妙力量和它所要求的注意力相类比。曾经告诫过Horwitz的男性老师“尽你所能地自由……扔油漆”和她的回答:“如果我想体验自由,我需要把所有的选择都减少到最少。”T曾被视为边缘——孩子们的玩具、广告、购物和电影院——并使其成为纪念碑。他还喜欢用格言写作,格言读起来很小很零碎,其方法预示着克劳斯的《body kelly_lake_store_kelly_lake_lake_lake_minnesota_2011》、《courtesy_of_chris_kraus_and_n1_magazine.jpg》莱利湖,明尼苏达,2011。礼貌:克里斯·克劳斯和n+1杂志的语言是那么清晰,那么直截了当,简直是白炽,两周前的课堂上我们不得不从她的话转到参议院使用的那些话。布雷特·卡瓦诺大喊自己是“受害者”,克里斯汀·布莱西·福特为他的袭击作证,但从未使用“受害者”这个词。白人男性特权被展示给所有人看,而布莱西福德会问她的审问者:“这很好吗?”她会说:“我是一个志趣相投的人。”如果我们不做这样的安排呢?如果克劳斯不必拥抱自由的边缘呢?我们身处这样一个时刻,不仅是一个狂欢狂欢的男孩在公共舞台上寻求和寻求赦免,而且在另一边,数百万人呼吁改变。我们有民主社会主义者、黑人生活事件和我,所有这些人都在为具有广泛定义和交叉点的分布式、平等的权力而斗争。当我不比我的学生大很多的时候,我遇到了克里斯,和她前夫西尔维尔·洛丁格一起学习,在挣扎。艺术史。在她写作之前,她是第一个告诉我我是作家的人。她在拍摄电影和编辑书籍(她在这里写的书)主要是女人,都是第一人称。他们可能很混乱,有性和权力的问题,克劳斯引用小说家和出版商艾米丽·古尔德的话:为什么不怕羞辱自己的女人会如此吓唬我们,为什么我们急于寻找表面的理由来解雇她们(“她疯了”“她是个自恋者”)年轻人“她是个妓女”吗?我之所以这样认为,部分原因是因为它们对社会秩序构成威胁,而社会秩序依赖于女性的尴尬,使她们要么保持沉默,要么以社会可接受的方式写作。我花了很长时间才认识到那个职位。它吓了我一跳。克里斯的小说起初吓坏了我。他们感到幽闭恐惧和头晕目眩,仿佛我被推得太近了,我自己那生硬的、红色的一面也暴露了出来。当我从研究生院退学时,沉重的理论语言像棍棒一样挥舞着。我们在十月的那一刻很深,我认为成功需要女人成为怪物。(我也是脱衣舞女,开玩笑说脱衣舞比学术界更诚实)。我挣扎着。然而,现在我们处在一个不同的时刻,当女人与男性侵略者划过同一条界线时,她们也被称为怪物,而克劳斯则陷入了风暴之中。她为Avital Ronell辩护,后者的行为确实像个怪物。捕食者是捕食者,不管是十几岁的醉汉,还是教授和她的研究生。这是一个世界,妇女必须找到自己的力量与男性力量谈判。我不想让我的学生继承这个领域。这里的选项太二元了:顶部还是底部,怪物还是受害者。image001.jpg Chris Kraus Looks Toward the Margins in New Book ’Social Practices’ - Chris Kraus在新书《社会实践》中寻找利润 Chris Kraus,2018。在她的介绍中,Kraus写道,“像其他一切事物一样,艺术永远是交易的。”我曾经相信这一点。但我并不希望一切都是事务性的;我希望理想主义、乌托邦、无限制的生活有更大的可能性。她写道,在人文学科的失败中,艺术已成为写作——常常是实验写作——等学科蓬勃发展的最后手段。艺术欢迎来自这些领域的难民。当然有我。克劳斯在创造艺术写作和批判性思维的新道路上独领风骚,不是因为挥动棍棒,而是因为暴露了我们的伤痕,不是因为自己受伤了,而是因为愿意表现出来。但是,如果……如果Channa Horwitz没有找到两种形状和两种颜色的自由呢?如果亨利·泰勒不必画被白人射杀的祖父,并且知道这可能是,就像他在后来的采访中所说的那样,他该怎么办?如果我没有发现走出我在研究生院看到的那个怪物,那该怎么办?如果我们的系统不是事务性的,那么如果克劳斯的作品在很长一段时间后就被认为是伟大的文学作品呢?别误会我,我爱她的写作。我喜欢她把社区和社会作为解决办法的设想。社会主义无政府主义者艾玛·高曼在1906年写道,爱和权力是:如果部分解放要成为完全和真正的妇女解放,就必须消除那种荒谬的观念,即要被爱、要成为爱人、要成为爱人、要成为真正的女人。母亲,是奴隶或下级的代名词。这必须消除性别二元论的荒谬观念,否则男女代表两个对立的世界。琐碎分离;广度团结。让我们宽宏大量。让我们不要忽视重要的事情,因为我们面临着许多琐事。一个真正的两性关系概念是不会被征服和被征服的,它只知道一件大事:无限地奉献自我,以便发现自己更富有、更深刻、更好。只有这样才能填补空虚,将女性解放的悲剧转化为欢乐,无限的欢乐。在那之前,我有Chris Kraus,写毯子和安慰,内在和马克思。或者她丢失的咖啡勺,用一个匿名妇女在1936年写的一封信编织进来:在某个时候,人们必须问,在什么情况下把精神集中于简单地克服塑料勺,就像他们说的“继续前进”会更好?问自己这个问题就像问什么是真实的。你能注意到日光的延伸吗?我们如何适应损失,我们如何生活在它旁边?主要形象:Henry Taylor,时代不是改变,足够快!,2017,丙烯酸帆布。礼貌:艺术家和布鲁姆·坡,洛杉矶,纽约,东京;照片:库珀·多兹·詹妮弗·卡巴特,美国纽约州北部的作家。新学校正在写一本题为《成长》的书。


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