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Karen Finley: Grabbing Pussy / Parts Known
ISSUE Project Room
Brooklyn, NY
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Karen Finley: Grabbing Pussy / Parts Known
Wednesday, September 12th, ISSUE is thrilled to present a rare evening with celebrated performance artist Karen Finley as a part of the the 2018 Brooklyn Book Festival. Since her first performances in the early 1980's, Finley has become synonymous with performance art. She has long provoked controversy and debate through her highly politicized and subversive depictions of human sexuality, and her unique performative responses to oppression in culture and politics. Following the release of her provocative new book Grabbing Pussy, recently published by OR Books, Finley gives a rare staged performance based on the text. The evening will also include a new text-performance entitled Parts Known.

In Grabbing Pussy, Finley offers a breathless cascade of poetry and prose that lays bare the psychosexual obsessions that have burst to the surface of todays American politics. Alternately funny and disturbing, Finley explores the Shakespearean dynamics that arise when libidos and loyalties clash in the public and private personas of Donald Trump, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Harvey Weinstein, and others. The aggression of intimacy, the disparity of gender, and the vital importance of hair are all expressed with Finleys raucous candor.

In Parts Known, Finley responds to the separation of families at the border, the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, and the struggle and strength of being a New Yorker [...] the resistance of not being depressed and moving forward with the experience of activism of the past.

Both works expand on Finleys career-long pursuit of performatively articulating the injustices committed by the U.S. government and society at large -- an undertaking spanning her commentary on the rise of HIV and AIDS in the 80s (We Keep Our Victims Ready), her acting as plaintiff in National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley after the NEA vetoed her grant in 1990, and criticism of homophobia (The Father In All of Us). These narratives, and many more across her body of work, position underrepresented voices and struggles as an always central component to her practice -- a commitment as crucial as ever in todays precarious political landscape.

Karen Finley is a performer, artist, writer, musician, poet, teacher and lecturer, and recipient of two Obies, two Bessies, and multiple grants from the NEA and NYSCA. She has toured internationally with pieces including Make Love, George & Martha, The Jackie Look, The American Chestnut, A Certain Level of Denial and The Return of The Chocolate Smeared Woman, and Written in the Sand. In 1990, Finley became an unwilling symbol for the NEA when she, along with Tim Miller, Holly Hughes & John Fleck, sued the NEA for withdrawing grants on the grounds of indecency; the controversial case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Among Finley's books are Shock Treatment, Enough Is Enough: Weekly Meditations for Living Dysfunctionally, the Martha Stewart satire Living It Up: Humorous Adventures in Hyperdomesticity, Pooh Unplugged, and A Different Kind of Intimacy. Her art is in the collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among other places. Finley is a professor in the department of Art and Public Policy at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.


ISSUE Project Room (View)
22 Boerum Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States



Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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