(review of: Chris Kraus: Where art belongs)
I like how Chris Kraus always contextualizes the art she talks about. Art is always a product of circumstances (Xavier LeRoy) first and foremost. It is never just “the work” that stands on its own, at best informed by some unmutable history. Art to Chris Kraus is a subjective result of an attitude that is as much rooted in the artists condition of production as in the observer’s vantage point. “I am trying to find a way to work”, says Moyra Davey (pg. 108) while Janet Kim’s work as curator rests in her community as well as in her ability to build this community. The “Sex Workers Art Show” turns the conditions of production into a label and preserves enough proletarian drive to be not just art but also of political consequence.
“Where art belongs” – the longing in the title already betrays the romantic in Chris Kraus. And that the romantic elements often closely relate to the conditions of production is my major problem with her writing. Why – when it touches the hardship and the alienation – does her writing avoid the confrontation by fleeing into a romantic world?
Confluency and conflation of personal history (Ceŝar and the Nazis) evoke Pynchon’s magical realism. In these essays meaning is given to art works and to attitudes of artists’ almost like a spell. By not quite saying the word, as if speaking it would render the magic void. This of course is just a different reading of the “romantic” touch in Chris Kraus work.