Chris Kraus (b. 1955)
Gravity & Grace (1996)
Gravity and Grace (1996) serves in many ways as a swan song—or a renunciation. Filmed in New York and her native New Zealand, it follows Gravity and Grace through their sexcapades, association with a millennialist group, and beyond.
In its pacing and conceit, Gravity and Grace is not unlike Todd Haynes’s Safe (1995). Yet Kraus’s discomfort with the three-act narrative-feature is conspicuous. Critique slides into camp: Godard-like texts flash up, announcing, “Feelings Are Shit.” Gravity complains to Grace about another character: “All he talks about is his past. And besides, the stories don’t even add up. I mean, how could he have written the Situationist manifesto with Guy Debord if he was living with Paul Bowles in Tangiers?”
The movie ends with a hilarious cameo of Kraus as a New Museum curator, berating the young Gravity (turned artist) with theory-speak: “You had a chance to make an explicit feminist critique in your work, but you don’t address the politics of representation.” Gravity’s failure, according to the imperious curator, is that “the sublime has always been on the side of shit,” but “frankly, your work just isn’t shitty enough.”