13 July 2011

Where Art Belongs

Chris Kraus' Where Art Belongs [Semiotext(e) Intervention Series, 2011] is one of the most interesting art-related texts I've read in a long time. It somehow restores my faith that writing about art can be a viable and stimulating possibility for a writer. I found it so much more moving than what one normally reads written 'about' art, which is too often (especially in officially legitimised spheres) the sterile regurgitation of tired concepts, passionless analogies, poor justifications, conceptual quagmires and - most strikingly - the blatant denial of the real powers at work behind any critique of art (capital, exploitation, hypocrisy, competition, redundancy, etc.).

Not to say that Kraus' book is the perfect model for approaching art via text, almost the opposite, in fact. And that's it's beauty. There is no perfect model, and Kraus seems only too aware of this. There is no model, full stop. Why then, I wonder, so much monotony everywhere in artworld literature?

Kraus' book doesn't always make sense, or it makes different sense. It has sense, sensibility. She speaks of personal experiences and anecdotes, she transcribes from notebooks, she changes topics abruptly, and doesn't quote theorists. Her friends appear. There is sex in her words (naturally). Fiction is imminent. She plays favourites and takes sides. She is clever and naïve, abstract and obvious. It is such a pleasure to read her work, but there is no obligation.

This is not sampled criticality undertaken to generate sound-bites for the next hot obnoxious artlet, espoused by one of his or her curator-crony championers keen to obtain artworld kudos (although I imagine they will quote Kraus, and even she will be co-opted by the 'creative' forces of curator-cum-gallerist-cum-critics). It is rather, I feel, a writer using art as the lens through which to share experience and understanding - of the self, of art, of the world.

Kraus writes in part four, "Drift": 'Last night I felt the spirit that gripped me for months leave my body. I was no longer "in love". I was left with a vivid and heightened sense of the tangible. What was in front of my face - the rooms in this house, the carved rails on the bed, the night wind blowing against the net curtains - became suddenly real, newly interesting. Released, I was happy. Because psychoanalysis (like narrative plot) relies mostly on conflict, its structural method cannot account for these hauntings.'

Yes, I think this is where art belongs.


Anonymous Frank Zweegers said...

Interesting read!

19 July, 2011 14:11  

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