In this video, American writer Chris Kraus talks about her iconic feminist novel ‘I Love Dick’, which has been proclaimed ‘the most important book about men and women written in the last century.’ Published twenty years ago, the book experiences a revival among young feminists today, but for the author, it was “written in a delirium that I wouldn’t necessarily want to repeat.”
“It’s always weird to be pulled back into the past, against your will. But how could I complain? What better thing can happen to a book than that it gets to have a second life?” says Kraus of the fact that the book has been rediscovered by a new audience. The female blogging community picked up the book and at one point it became mainstream, which it wasn't when it came out in 1997 and was mainly reviewed by art critics. In continuation of this, back then, the critics were obsessed with the autobiographical aspects of the book: “Why are we so concerned about this? Why does it matter? Everything that happened in the book happened in real life, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a memoir.” Kraus’ goal wasn’t to tell the story of her life: “I was telling a funny story about an obsessive crush among a triangle of people. I was trying to describe a moment in the cultural, intellectual world at the end of the 20th century.”
According to Kraus, ‘I Love Dick’ reflects part of people’s lives across age and describes it as an “intergenerational love fest.” She believes that the novel appeals to young feminists, because the protagonist, in spite of her 39 years, is “dealing with experiences that you have in your teens – to have an obsessive crush on someone and write them love letters.” Kraus recognizes that the novel – though not her favourite – was the one that made it possible for her to start her writing career, but today there are other things she would like to pursue: “The book has a life of its own now, it’s out there in the culture, and I need to leave it alone and let people have their own experience of it.”
“There’s a lot of really kick-ass and amazing contemporary women artists working.” On the subject of the modern-day art scene, Krauss feels that there is less gender inequality than there was in the 1990s when she wrote ‘I Love Dick’. There seems to be an equal number of exhibiting male and female artists in most major cities, but men’s backstory still attracts more attention, which she thinks is why there are more legendary male “art stars” than women.
Chris Kraus (b. 1955) is an American writer and filmmaker. She is widely known for her feminist novel ‘I Love Dick’ (1997), which the English newspaper The Guardian proclaimed “the best novel written about men and women in the 20th century”. The novel follows Chris, who falls in love with her husband’s younger colleague Dick, and along with her husband plunges into an art project, with hundreds of pages of love letters and essays on art written to Dick. According to the author the book is based on real events, which she has turned into a fable about desire and patriarchy, and about finding creative resolution on the edge of annihilation. When ‘I Love Dick’ was reissued in 2006 it aroused great attention. In 2016 the novel was turned into a TV series by the same name. Among Kraus’ other books are the novels ‘Aliens & Anorexia’ (2000) and ‘Summer of Hate’ (2012) as well as the biography ‘After Kathy Acker’ (2017).
Chris Kraus was interviewed by Anette Dina Sørensen at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival in August 2017.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard & Henrik Kårsholm
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018
Supported by Nordea-fonden