Karen Finley is a New York-based performance artist, musician and poet, whose raw and transgressive work on sexuality and disenfranchisement has provoked controversy and debate for over three decades. Finley will address and reflect on the tumultuous culture wars of the 1990’s, when public funding for the arts was under attack. After National Endowment for the Arts grants awarded to Finley, Holly Hughes, John Fleck, and Tim Miller were revoked following Congressional passage of a “decency clause”, the artists known as the “N.E.A. Four” became co-plantiffs in Finley v. the National Endowment for the Arts, a case that was eventually brought to the Supreme Court in 1998.
Finley will perform excerpts from her performances, including Written in Sand, an anthology of spoken-word pieces that confronts the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York, and from her classic 1990 book Shock Treatment, which includes many of the performance texts that were considered “obscene and indecent” at the time.
In addition to her dramatic reading, Finley will address the political issues of that era that connect with the present day, discuss her creative process and production, and talk about finding joy in artmaking after a decade-long legal battle.
With support from the Institute for the Humanities, Institute for Research on Women & Gender (IRWG), Department of Theatre & Drama 100th Anniversary, and the Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative (LGQRI).
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