Karen Finley's Reality Show

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Karen Finley's Reality Show

Prof C: Oh, I think we're going to get into a swordfight about women's art history! Where's Patricia when we need her??

Moon: She'll pipe in the comments to correct us both I'm sure.

Prof C: Oh good, I hope so!

Moon: Anyway, not to derail your point on the influence of Finley on the 90s movements (our generation)... but performance art does begin with Beuys.


Moon:  Well it does if you take the anthropological approach.


Moon: Everything begins with the matriarchs. It’s just the modern movement starts in the 20th Century. But listen all that to say the women totally take the genre over! The most significant performance artist alive are these women we are speaking about.

Prof C: Well, performance art offers an ideal platform to create and comment on the body—such a huge concern in feminist work.

Moon: Honestly, I think Karen advanced the discourse on Feminism, performance art and the culture wars! I'm going to mention to our readers she was a part of the NEA four, one of the early battles the political right waged against the arts and won! PS that case before the Supreme Court was named National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley.

Prof C: Of course she did. She is a feminist icon, and I about shit myself when she asked me about my life as she was signing my book. You and I were like last in a long, long line, and she was so gracious and cool.

Moon: I imagine she must also have made many feminists uncomfortable.

Prof C:  I love making feminists uncomfortable. THANK YOU KAREN FINLEY!

Moon: Karen made me kind of uncomfortable during “The Passion of Terri Shiavo.” It was sexual, and religious, and disturbing and hilarious.

Prof C: It was intense. I kept comparing it to seeing some super-diva deliver a pitch-perfect aria without breaking a sweat. Very challenging in form and content, but also very, very funny in moments.

Moon: I also really appreciate her ability to take current events and completely infuse her imagination in them and create dialogue. For instance, the chapter in her book on Elliot and Silda Spitzer is also torturous and hilarious.

Prof C: I also appreciated how she spent her first five minutes on stage thanking people in the audience for their work and influence on her. I thought that was special.

Moon: Seriously, very humble. I'd love to be her student at NYU—I bet they adore her.

Prof C:  I hope people get a chance to go see her (we'll post the rest of her readings below) but if she isn't coming to your town, check out her book. It's chock full of smart little dialogues, monologues, and stories and also contains beautiful pictures of some of her recent political multi-media installations.

Karen Finley Book Tour, “The Reality Shows”

3.16.11: Barnes and Noble Union Square, NYC with Kathleen Hanna, 7pm
3.23.11: Outwrite Bookstore, Atlanta, 7:30-8:30pm
3.30.11: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 7pm, YBCA Screening Room
3.31.11: City Lights Books, San Francisco, 7pm
4.6.11: New York University, NYC with Ann Pellegrini, 7:00-9:00pm
4.11.11: Princeton University, Princeton NJ
4.21.11: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline MA with Jessica Hagedorn

Comments [4]

patricia's picture

pie fight, not swords!

Wow, so much to catch up on, and this is my fave arts post here, probably ever.  Flattered that you think I might be able to clear up women's history, but I learn as I go: distrusting chronology is step 1. Chronologies are mediated too, no?

Anyway, I do have some uneasiness about performance art starting with Beuys.  If he did performance in the mid-sixties, the French Situationists were much earlier, with their "constructs of situations".  If Beuys was doing that in the early to mid 70s, Coum Transmissions in the UK was doing performances in the late 60s, like 68/69.

The question I have is: was it Yoko Ono or the anarcho-punks to really catapult it to the modern era? Which has been more influential? 

As far matriarchal rituals/anthropological approach: if we categorize performance with ritual, belief systems comes up. Is magic performance? Is spirituality performance+ritual+myth or Ritual=myth/performance?

As a tool of inquiry it might be modern, rather than a tool of spiritual channeling/cleansing/honoring. For me, the difference lies in the degree of self-awareness and self-imposition on and of the Situation.

How else can performance be separated from interaction or ritual?

Prof C's picture

beep beep

You rule. I think I will start staging art fights with Grace more often so you can swoop in and say something sensible.

Grace Moon's picture

To Patricia above - I think

To Patricia above -

I think Ono and Abramovic both make performative ritual, both have personal/spiritual components in them, and by the way so did Beuys (i.e. coyote piece).

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Elizabeth Koke's picture

Thanks for the LOVE!

So great to have Vp representin' at Karen's book tour! 




<3 Elizabeth