SEMIOTEXT(E) Talks at Art Los Angeles Contemporary

January 21, 2012

Semiotexte presents three events: David Wojnarowicz: A definitive history of five or six years on the lower east side—a conversation with Sylvere Lotringer and Jennifer Doyle; Chris Kraus, Where Art Belongs—a reading by Chris Kraus; and Halsted Plays Himself—a reading and screening with artist and filmmaker William E. Jones.

Ruskin Theatre
Santa Monica Airport

David Wojnarowicz: a definitive history of five or six years on the lower east side
1pm, Saturday

Sylvere Lotringer and Jennifer Doyle on artist David Wojnarowicz. In February 1991, the artist David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) and the philosopher Sylvere Lotringer met in a borrowed East Village apartment to conduct a long-awaited dialogue on Wojnarowicz’s work. Wojnarowicz was then at the peak of his notoriety as the fiercest antagonist of morals crusader Senator Jesse Helms—a notoriety that Wojnarowicz alternately embraced and rejected. Already suffering the last stages of AIDS, David saw his dialogue with Lotringer as a chance to set the record straight on his aspirations, his personal history, and his political views.

Sylvère Lotringer is a literary critic and cultural theorist. A younger contemporary of Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Jean Baudrillard, Paul Virilio and Michel Foucault, he is best known for synthesizing French theory with American literary, cultural and architectural avant-garde movements through his work with Semiotext(e) ; and for his interpretations of French theory in a 21st century context.

Jennifer Doyle teaches American literature, gender studies, and visual studies. In her book Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire (Minnesota, 2006), Doyle shows how the declaration that a work of art is “about sex” reveals surprisingly little about the work, the artist, or the spectator.

Chris Kraus, Where Art Belongs
2pm, Saturday

Chris Kraus will read from her 2011 book WHERE ART BELONGS, that examines recent artistic enterprises that reclaim the use of lived time as a material. Expanding the argument begun in her earlier book, VIDEO GREEN, Kraus argues that "the art world is interesting only insofar as it reflects the larger world outside it." The Glasgow Review of Books describes WHERE ART BELONGS as "an incitement to find art, to read in a heroic way, and to create a moment;" Bookforum has praised its "poeticism and daunting theoretical undercurrents." "In WHERE ART BELONGS," Alina Astrova writes, "art theory becomes political philosophy … a means of establishing a way of life outside capitalist conventions."

Chris Kraus is the author of four novels and two books of art essays. The recipient of a Frank Mather Award in Art Criticism and a Warhol Foundation art writing grant, she has been described by Holland Cotter in the New York Times as "one of our smartest and original writers on art and culture."

Halsted Plays Himself
3pm, Saturday

Semiotext(e) presents acclaimed artist and filmmaker William E. Jones who will read select sections from his new book, Halsted Plays Himself. He will also screen segments of L.A. Plays Itself: a sexually explicit, autobiographical, experimental film whose New York screening left even Salvador Dalí repeatedly muttering "new information for me." Halsted, a self-taught filmmaker, shot the film over a period of three years in a now-vanished Los Angeles, a city at once rural and sleazy. In Halsted Plays Himself, Jones documents his quest to capture the elusive public and private personas of Halsted—to zero in on an identity riddled with contradictions.

William E. Jones is an artist and filmmaker who teaches film history at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He has made two feature length experimental films, Massillon (1991) and Finished (1997), several short videos, including The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (1998), the feature length documentary Is It Really So Strange? (2004), and many video installations. His films and videos were the subject of retrospectives at Tate Modern, London, in 2005, and at Anthology Film Archives, New York, in 2010.

Semiotext(e) known for its introduction of French theory to American readers has been one of America’s most influential independent presses since its inception more than three decades ago.

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