Artist Charles Krafft is back — and this time, rather than attempting to hide his white nationalist beliefs, he appears to be embracing them.
As some people on Twitter have noticed, an organization called Counter-Currents Publishing has launched an “H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature.” The accolade is, in part, a rebuttal to the World Fantasy Awards’ recent decision to stop using a sculpted likeness of the author for their trophy — because although he’s now a canonized writer of horror fiction, Lovecraft was also an explicit racist. The Counter-Currents prize in his honor will be “awarded to literary artists of the highest caliber who transgress the boundaries of political correctness.” And it will consist of — what else? — a bust of Lovecraft, sculpted by none other than Charles Krafft.
None of this is exactly surprising. It was a shock in early 2013, when Jen Graves wrote a chilling piece in The Stranger that exposed Krafft, the popular sculptor of traditionally inflected porcelain guns, swastikas, and “Disasterware,” as a white nationalist and Holocaust denier. Krafft’s work, we discovered, was not ironic or witty after all; it was just horrifying propaganda.
Counter-Currents, a website and publisher that bills itself as a leader of the “North-American New Right,” has been around since 2010. At the time of Krafft’s outing, its editor-in-chief Greg Johnson published a vigorous defense titled “The Persecution of Charles Krafft,” which discussed the author’s personal relationship with Krafft and categorized the artist as
one of an increasing number of essentially liberal whites who are awakening to the fact that multiculturalism and non-white immigration are threats to the things that liberals hold dear: environmentalism, support for the arts, respect for women, kindness to animals, high wages, safe workplaces, religious tolerance, tolerance for “alternative lifestyles,” safe, inviting public spaces and facilities, walkable communities, etc., none of which are conspicuous in Latin America or the Muslim world, for instance.
So it’s logical that Counter-Currents would enlist Krafft to design a likeness of Lovecraft as its new award statuette.
‘Penitentiary Plate (HMP Brixton)’ by #CharlesKrafft ?? Part of ‘LAX / LHR’ #LAXLHR co-curated with @thinkspace_art 04.09.15 – 04.10.15 Full line up on stolenspace.com A photo posted by stolenspacegallery (@stolenspacegallery) on
The timing couldn’t be better. Krafft needs the boost after an exhibition of his work was canceled because of his “own defiance of political correctness,” in the words of Counter-Currents. That exhibition was scheduled to open on November 12 at Stolen Space, a street art gallery in London. On November 9, the gallery posted a statement about its decision to show Krafft’s work, writing:
In recent times he has been surrounded in controversy over his supposed beliefs, we have taken time to discuss these with him, knowing that reporting and social media can very easily be guided or misinterpreted.
The post goes on to say, “We have spoken to Charles directly and he denies the claims made against him and the way in which he was reported as slander and trolling.” It then treats us to a lengthy comment from Krafft, who claims:
Im [sic] not a Holocaust denier. I haven’t denied that many Jewish people suffered and died during WWII. I’m also not a white supremacist either.
I only challenge the taboo that society cannot discuss certain events without seeming to be politically incorrect and thought criminal, such as conspiracy theories around 911 for example.
He adds, “I have collectors and friends that are Jewish.”
But apparently the denials of denial weren’t enough. On November 10, Stolen Space posted a second note on its website, this time announcing the cancelation of Krafft’s show. The post brands the situation a “controversy” and positions the gallery as the principal victim:
Whilst we have listened diligently to Charles Krafft�s [sic] explanations surrounding the controversy of past interviews, it was naive of StolenSpace to think that this matter had been resolved and that the controversy would not follow him.
Both physical and verbal threats have been made against the gallery and our staff, and although StolenSpace does not believe in censorship or cyber bullying, we do respect the opinions and feelings about such sensitive matters. We therefore feel it is appropriate that the show is cancelled in light of this.
Incidentally, I reached out to Stolen Space when Graves’s article came out in 2013, but the gallery never responded. At that time, Krafft was listed as a represented artist on the its website; today he isn’t.