Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Intimacy of Karen Finley

It's been a while since we were graced with the brilliance that is Karen Finley. The American performance artist, author, and playwright, who is currently teaching Art & Public Policy at NYU, is known for exploring themes of sexual abuse, suicide, female sexuality, the human body and American politics. I absolutely love Finley's work -- her memoir A Different Kind of Intimacy is one of my favorites. Pooh Unplugged is also quite great!

Finley explored her thoughts on sexual violence in her The Return of the Chocolate-Smeared Woman performance, smearing her body in chocolate. Years later, in July 1999, Finley brought the chocolate back for an appearance in Playboy.

She was also one of the NEA Four -- along with artists Tim Miller, John Fleck, and Holly Hughes -- whose grants from the National Endowment for the Arts were revoked in 1990 by chairman John Frohnmayer. Senator Jesse Helms condemned Finley and Co. for being "undecent," but after a long three-year battle, the NEA Four won their case in court in 1993 -- each artist received settlements equal to their original grants. In the end, after reaching the United State Supreme Court, Congress pressured the NEA to stop funding artists.

Finley, in no way, shape or form, is a woman scorned. In fact, Finley is working on a new piece surrounding the recent Eliot Spitzer sex scandal entitled "Impulse to Suck: The performance of the apology and the separation between sex and state." In an article in The New York Sun, Finley explores the Madonna vs. the Whore complex and questions if sex is really separate from the state and much, much more. Let's hope she brings this new bit to the road.

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  • I love Karen Finley. She's always been one of my most respected icons because she breaks through social norms and twists and bends American culture to the near breaking point. She is a poetic terrorist in the most artistic sense. I used to play her "Lick Me" 12 inch record on the college radio station where I worked. I even made a station ID out of it. Thanks for writing about her.

    By Blogger Michelle, at Friday, July 4, 2008 at 1:40:00 AM EDT  

  • As an artist, this kind of bull shit makes me want to kill myself. How can she call covering herself in chocolate to represent woman's struggle art? Especially after appearing in Playboy afterwards?

    If anyone can do it, it isn't art. She might have had a point to make but i'll be damned if she made art along with that.

    I am forever pissed that she and Andres Serrano actually won money in that case.

    I'm going to go throw a buddha in the toilet after i take a piss and demand money too damnit, cause that's obviously art.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 2:54:00 AM EST  

  • Anonymous-
    You obviously aren't a real artist if you don't understand Karen Finley's and Andres Serrano's art. Shut up and keep making your shitty, uninteresting art.

    By Blogger Anonymous, at Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 5:11:00 PM EDT  

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