Monday, April 5, 2010

Surprisingly Read: "A Different Kind of Intimacy" by Karen Finley

Surprisingly Read: A Different Kind of Intimacy: the collected writings of Karen Finley, a memoir by Karen Finley, 2000, 1560252936.

I don't recall why I reserved this. I must have run across a Finley reference and just grabbed this.

I well remember the NEA nonsense of the '90s and Finley's status as the Chocolate Woman (or whatever she was called). I also wondered at her artistic skill or value - which was the point of much criticism. As Finley writes, most of her work was never seen, was misunderstood, was taken out of context, or was treated as bizarre eroticism. She seems like a nice lady. A nice lady who does discuss sex but does not make it the sole focus of her work.

I had written several notes on my bookmark while reading the book. I lost the bookmark. Damn it.

Thoughts I had while reading:
1- Finley had a rough time from the NEA brouhaha and even had a miscarriage due, in part, to all the stress.
2 - When reading the book and excerpts from her performances it is difficult to tell if Finley or a character is talking.
3 - I imagine making a living as a performance artist must be tough. Finley received a ton of attention but how many people actually saw her performances? Does Finley license her performances like a play script? How big an audience is there for this kind of work, can you make a living just off of that?
4 - This is a ten year old book. I did a search on YouTube hoping to find a recorded performance by Finley but a whole bunch of other crap came up and I gave up after 30 seconds. I might try ILL.
5 - I forget what else.
6 - I did write in an interesting comment Finley had to say:
I think what's happened for hundreds of years is this idea that the artist is crazy. That's the whole reason for the Van Gogh phenomenon. Everyone loves Van Gogh more for his being out of his mind and out of control, which is what they want to believe creativity is, than for his paintings. No one could think that a person who is intelligent, or is a professional, or who thinks, could create work. The idea is that creativity only comes out of irrationality.

The same could be said for drug use. That doping up is the way to creativity. People who seem to think that drugs are responsible for great art and music but many artists out of rehab say they were successful in spite of the drugs.

HEY! I just found the bookmark. Let's see...
1. AIDS really wiped out Finley's circle of friends and, resultingly, hit her hard as well.
2. Finley was not desirous of being an art martyr and sick of standing in as Joan of Arc. The court cases took over her life.
3. Not really an autobiography of Finley. More a tale of her professional travails. Not even a autobio of her artwork itself.
4. Finley ended up using food because real props were too expensive. She opened up her fridge to find something to use.
5. Getting past the seriousness of "high art".
6. Critics sexualized her performances.
7. Museums and galleries were still (2000) afraid to invite her to perform. Other people stopped talking to her.

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