December 02, 2004

Video Green


Video Green, just out in Semiotext(E)ís Native Agents Series, is the most recent compellation of Chris Kraus essays. Written in the early-to-mid-90s after the author and critic moved from New York to Los Angeles, the book is her second since the infamous I Love Dick, a fictionalized account of her short tryst with Dick Hebdige, author of Subculture: The Meaning of Style. Although it is true that Video Green casts a jaundiced eye on the academicism of Los Angeles art, it is almost by accident. Kraus happened to be teaching in the graduate program at the Art Center College of Design when she wrote the essays. Most of the writing is really much more about the culture shock of a New Yorker trying to acclimate herself to a West Coast world she found ironically lonely and inhuman. It so happened much of the art coming out of the schools during that period Kraus felt mirrored what was most empty about Los Angeles. The better part of the book, however, is actually not about art as much as it is about living. Krausís larger subject is often the artifice of sincerity. Where psychology is at issue, nothing is certain or fixed in a Kraus piece. The writing is as much concerned with telling a story as it is with the story itself. As with Aliens and Anorexia or I Love Dick, these essays are about intimacy, both as something that is somehow produced by construction and as something that altogether escapes it. The Kraus self-portrayed in these essays is a super complex person, equally rendered in full emotional armor and simultaneously bared to the harshest scrutiny. Kraus devotes much of her book to recounting her experiences trying to connect to the new world around her. Much of the book is, in fact, an original exploration of bondage, etc. Video Green is illustrated with atmospheric photos by the artist Daniel Marlos.

Posted by dmb at December 2, 2004 05:08 PM
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