Artist, gallerist, and writer Giovanni Intra's inventive approach to art writing provides a guide to the New Zealand and Los Angeles art scenes of his era.
Everything you read about Los Angeles is true. The city adapts to its own mythology. It's such a ludicrously discussed place that I always feel slightly idiotic in my attempts to produce a serious discourse about it. Raves in the desert, however, are superb. And ecstasy is a great drug. Also, if you hadn't heard, music sounds better when you're high. And the desert surrounding LA is wondrous. —Giovanni Intra, “LA Politics”
Before his early death in 2002, Giovanni Intra enjoyed a rollercoaster ride through the art world. He was an artist and gallerist—cofounding two legendary galleries, the artist-run space Teststrip in Auckland and China Art Objects Galleries in Los Angeles—as well as a writer. Clinic of Phantasms provides a guide to the New Zealand and Los Angeles art scenes of the day, including texts on key artists from New Zealand (John Hurrell, Fiona Pardington, Denise Kum, Ava Seymour, Ann Shelton, Gavin Hipkins, Daniel Malone,and Slave Pianos) and Los Angeles (Charles Ray, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Dave Muller, Evan Holloway, John McCracken, and Julia Scher).
What makes Intra's work of enduring significance is his inventive approach to art writing, which was informed by his interest in punk, surrealism, and Daniel Paul Schreber, the famous case study in paranoia and hallucination. This volume features writing on Intra from Chris Kraus and Mark von Schlegell, Andrew Berardini, Roberta Smith, Tessa Laird, Will Bradley, Joel Mesler, and Robert Leonard.
Giovanni Intra (1968–2002) was a cofounder of the artist-run Teststrip Gallery in Auckland (1992–1997). He was a regular contributor to Art and Text. He and artist Steve Hanson cofounded China Art Objects in 1999, which soon became an influential dealer gallery.
Robert Leonard is Chief Curator at City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand, and former director of the Institute of Modern Art, in Brisbane, Australia. He curated Simon Denny: Secret Power for the 2015 Venice Biennale. His City Gallery shows include Colin McCahon: On Going Out with the Tide (2017), John Stezaker: Lost World (2017), and Iconography of Revolt (2018).
Chris Kraus is the author of four novels, including I Love Dick and Summer of Hate; two books of art and cultural criticism; and most recently, After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography. She received the College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism in 2008, and a Warhol Foundation Art Writing grant in 2011. She lives in Los Angeles.
Mark von Schlegell's experimental writing practice has been crossing genres regularly, into literature, theory, science fiction, art, film, criticism, comics, performance and theater, since 1992. He has taught literature and art at CalArts, the San Francisco Art Institute, and Städelschule, Frankfurt.
Andrew Berardini is a writer of quasi-essayistic prose poems about art and other sensual subjects, occasional editor, and curator with past exhibitions at MOCA in Los Angeles, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Castello Di Rivoli in Turin and the Estonian Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale.