Poetry News

Semiotext(e) Canceled Boyle Heights Event for After Kathy Acker

By Harriet Staff
Chris Kraus, After Kathy Acker, cover

In the latest news surrounding the pushback against gentrification in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, Semiotext(e) canceled the launch of Chris Kraus's biography of Kathy Acker at the gallery 356 S. Mission Rd. The event, which was to include a conversation between Bruce Hainley and Kraus, would have taken place last week. 

Anti-gentrification activists had recently confronted Kraus about canceling the Boyle Heights event during a Q&A at the CUNY Graduate Center after a reading from After Kathy Acker, which is published by Semiotext(e). Artforum has more:

“In this climate of harassment and online trolling, there’d be no point trying to have a conversation between Bruce Hainley and Chris Kraus about biography, fiction, and historiography,” Hedi El Kholti, coeditor of Semiotext(e), said in a statement. He added that the publisher had been contacted by activists demanding that they denounce the gallery and its founders and issue an apology. They also urged the company to remove its books from the Ooga Booga bookstore and design shop that shares a space with the gallery.

“As a Moroccan immigrant who grew up in a country with no freedom of the press and general censorship of books, I am troubled by the idea of being asked to remove books from any bookshop and to denounce people who are friends and I believe to be easy scapegoats for a much larger issue that we absolutely care about deeply,” El Kholti said.


In defense of the activists’ motives, Angel Luna, a member of the group Defend Boyle Heights, said, “We are asking all of the art galleries of the warehouse district of Boyle Heights to relocate somewhere else and not contribute to the gentrification of Boyle Heights. We understand that art galleries are a useful tool to increase financial speculation and drive up profit in gentrifying areas. This is our reality and our reason for the boycott.”

Read on at Artforum.


Originally Published: October 12th, 2017