Chris Kraus writes the kind of genre-bending, semiautobiographical works that refuse to sit comfortably in the fiction section. Her latest, Summer of Hate (2013), is an existentialist noir chronicling the weirdness of late capitalism as it intertwines with the prison industrial complex in the American Southwest. Much like protagonist Catt Dunlop, Kraus herself has “built an artistic career based mostly on nerve,” seeming to see “no boundaries between feeling and thought, sex and philosophy.” This was made most explicit by the radical performative philosophy of I Love Dick (1997), which pushed the boundaries of privacy and disclosure and garnered Kraus a cult following. Kraus is an editor at Semiotext(e), where she ran the Native Agents series from 1990 to 2004. Before Native Agents was launched, Semiotext(e)’s Foreign Agents series hadn’t produced anything on feminism or published a single book written by someone other than a white man. As a writer and as an editor, Kraus has continued to explore personal narratives that do theoretical work; she publishes pieces that move fluidly between high and low culture, blending theory, biography, and fiction. Formerly a video artist, Kraus also writes art criticism, which has been collected in Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness (2004) and Where Art Belongs (2011). She is a Professor of Writing at the European Graduate School and lives in Los Angeles. Kraus emailed with contributor Alex Ronan.
Alex Ronan, Wag’s Revue: Did writing Summer of Hate feel necessary, inevitable, or a mix of both?
Chris Kraus: I always knew I was going to do it. I started writing the book by sending these journalistic dispatches from Arizona to Mark von Schlegell for his ‘zine, The Rambler, in 2007.