During the spring of 85 in Barcelona, I decided I wanted to become a character , a role and archetype , to rehearse how to actually become some one on my mind for a series of pictures representing a doomed woman, an addict and prostitute, inspired as well by the area of Barcelona where I used to live , next to so many other artist, the sort of downtown for our little mediterranean city... El Raval, Las Ramblas and el Born...
I had seen the pictures of Cindy Sherman posing as a film actor on a series of stills and I thought
this could be an interesting departure point for me, at the time working as a dancer/ actress and editing a magazine V.O.
A sequence of this pictures went published at the last issue of V.O.
Next to a text from a song by Sergio Makaroff , a song writer and musician based in Barcelona
From the perspective that time gives, I can see how this attraction to represent doomed feminine characters is rooted in my poetic and life real experiences.
Seems much more special and deep a woman who loses..a lost woman.. or girl..
I know why...but this I will tell always subliminally inside my work.
And if you feel like , then try to guess..
Sunday, 7 July 2013
Monday, 1 July 2013
The Art of Failure: On the Films of Chris Kraus
by Joseph Henry
Kraus has publicly and frequently labeled her films — eight in total made between 1983 and 1996 — failures. Roughly produced on shoestring budgets and often concerned with complex political and theoretical issues, Krauss’s films don’t subscribe to cathartic emotionalism, rigorous formalism, or pure visual pleasure. They’re not quite at home in conceptual, documentary, or narrative genres; they work with a wide aesthetic palette that accommodates stagy performativity, pointed gender critique, and highbrow textual sources. In “Foolproof Illusion” (1986), Kraus interjects footage of herself complaining about her violent husband and building a snowman in her underwear with readings of work by French playwright Antonin Artaud. For “How to Shoot a Crime,” 1987, Kraus collaborated with then-husband, literary theorist Sylvère Lotringer, to create a film consisting of both gruesome crime-scene footage and Lotringer’s interviews with dominatrices. Her films promise cerebral complexity without strictly catering to a theoretical mindset — they’re funny, disconcerting, and at times, outraged.
Yet Kraus’s films found audiences only in fellow artists or friends; curators and critics ignored them. As she declaratively told an audience at Montreal bookstore Drawn and Quarterly, last fall, she will never make films again. Kraus’s repudiation of her film work marked a split in her career. In 1997, Kraus published her well-known autobiographical epistolary novel "I Love Dick," and from that point on, sculpted out a niche as a fiction writer and art critic with an increasingly devoted fanbase and increasingly influential body of work. In novels like "Summer of Hate" (2012) and "Torpor" (2006), or criticism anthologies "Video Green" (2004) and "Where Art Belongs" (2011), Kraus established an authorial voice that nimbly navigates genres of confessional autobiography, academic essay, and savvy art writing. Kraus’s fiction has arguably overshadowed her criticism, yet in her work on modern and contemporary art, Kraus established a writerly paradigm that took as its starting point the interweaving of personal experience, aesthetic evaluation, and sociopolitical history. The interest in Kraus’s writing in turn nourished a rekindled interest in her film work: since 2008, her films have (officially) been shown in Berlin, Vienna, London, Melbourne, and New York.
Canada’s only introduction to Kraus’s films may have occurred just this week, with Montreal’sCentre des arts actuels Skol’s screening of “Gravity and Grace,” part of a summer’s worth of programming curated by the Centre for Feminist Pedagogy (CFP), a mobile collective led by writers Jen Kennedy and Ania Wroblewski. “Gravity and Grace” takes its name from a mystical screed by French philosopher Simone Weil, a figure who appears often in “Aliens & Anorexia,” Kraus’s autobiographical yet ambitiously interextual chronicle of the production story of “Gravity and Grace,” the lives and deaths of Paul Thek and Ulrike Meinhof, and a re-telling of “Gravity” itself. As CFP noted, in "Aliens & Anorexia," Kraus writes on her film: “But ‘Gravity and Grace’ was just so unappealing. It was an amateur intellectual’s home-video expanded to bulimic lengths’.” Thus Skol and the CFP’s challenge was to make palatable a film that until recently had only been regarded by critics and its creator, alike, as a failure to be forgotten.
It’s easy to take either position, to see “Gravity and Grace” as the washed-up finale of a stunted career move, or as the early exploration in a body of work that too quickly dropped off. In “Aliens,” Krauss documents in painful detail the catastrophic filming process and funding situation behind “Gravity,” Kraus’s own relative lack of training joined with an erratic co-producer and inflated budget. And it shows: shots careen in and out of focus, questionable dubbing replaces much of the recorded dialogue, and the acting at times remains ambiguously convincing.
Yet the film's appeal is arguably found precisely in the layers of failure operating throughout: it’s an unsucessful film about failure in a book largely about failing. Or, to gloss the film’s plot: Gravity and Grace are two college students in New Zealand (where Kraus grew up), turning tricks with wealthy tourists for both titillation and profit. Grace comes across a group of average-yet-slightly-pathetic suburban New Zealanders, who effectively operate as a cult. They're holding out for messages from a mysterious deity, who will rescue them from an immanently approaching apocalyptic flood. Gravity remains skeptical, while Grace ingratiates herself.
On the prophesized night of reckoning, the group, already taunted by neighbors and having quit all real-life obligations, notices their devotion has come to naught. Initially devastated, they then believe that they have in fact saved the world, redeeming themselves as the deity's champions. They burst into ecstatic cheer, Grace included. Disgusted with the group's delusion, Gravity flees New Zealand to make it as an artist in New York, where she soon finds herself teaching English while trying to show work. The film ends after a disappointing meeting with a caricaturish New Museum curator, played by Kraus herself, who excessively spouts so much empty art theory (“The sublime has always been on the side of shit. Face it, Gravity, your work just isn’t shitty enough. It’s illustrative of the peripheral conditions of shit.”). The film ends with the curator’s rejection of Gravity’s exhibition, who leaves and looks into a desolate New York skyline as credits roll.
As Kraus herself noted, the film’s length overstays its welcome. The two sections feel like two separate conjoined films, harsh in their contrast of tone and style. Yet the lingering ending opens up the film’s thematic concerns. As Gravity receives more bad career news, the film poses the question: when faced with the collapse of your hopes, better to spin failure into more naïve fantasy or come to terms with its deadening consequences? Despite the halted doomsday, Gravity perpetually hears of Grace’s career successes as the former toils in her studio; Gravity’s realism earns her no more than Grace’s optimism. Kraus equates the cult’s blind faith with the New York artworld’s narcissistic cluelessness. Yet the film is never moralizing or entirely resentful: when the New Zealanders cheer their new status as saviors on the thwarted night of destruction, Ceal, the group’s privileged communicator to their deity and recent recruit, walks away in stunned desolation, her hopes in a genuinely new form of living shattered. Failure and success replace each other with confusing alacrity.
Such a dynamic has long motivated Kraus’s work both on the page and screen. Critics in bothArtforum and the New York Times praised the 2011 exhibition, acknowledging but refusing Kraus’s self-deprecatory evaluation. But to identify the film’s technical holdups seems besides the point: “Gravity and Grace” places its flaws on center stage not simply for practical reasons, but also to dramatize the act of failing itself. The films blurs and confuses the binary of “success” and “failure,” opening up an art-making that is personal without being indulgent, and risky without being sensationalist.
In this sense, Kraus’s filmmaking mirrors her criticism, which has gained so much currency among a younger generation precisely because it disavows a clinically evaluative way of looking at art. As CFP's Jen Kennedy told ARTINFO Canada, “In many ways, Kraus's films are a first attempt to do what she later accomplishes in her writing: to actualize a mode of performative criticism that breaks down the separation between ideas and emotions. This is a powerful mode of operating and it's what made us want to show 'Gravity and Grace' in the context of the CFP.” Kraus's work confuses, trips-up, and confounds the attempts we make to separate art from the personal and the political. Art, in “Gravity and Grace,” “Aliens & Anorexia,” and the rest of Kraus’s output, seems to mirror such a perspective, claiming responsibility for articulating, answering, and accelerating the oscillations of success and failure