Karen Finley made headlines in 1993, when she was one of the “NEA Four” — a group of artists singled out by critics as “obscene,” resulting in a loss of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, which had been under fire from conservatives for supposedly funding lewd art. Finley and the other three — Tim Miller, John Fleck and Holly Hughes — all create art with feminist and/or gay themes, and they sued the NEA and won a Supreme Court victory.
The battle fueled rather than squelched Finley’s social commentary. Her new book, “Reality Shows,” examines the last decade with humor, wit and biting insight, and includes photos, drawings and a timeline of milestones.
“Pop culture mixes with rage, which mixes with sexuality, feminism, and danger. In the end you have a book that feels like it is breathing inside your bag. Abundant, overboard, too much,” Kathleen Hanna writes in the preface.
Readers and those who see Finley present the book in person are in for a ride. As a press release from Outwrite describes:
By embodying and re-imagining larger-than-life public figures in her performances, Finley helps us make sense of the political trauma and cultural chaos we’ve witnessed during the first decade of this century. Liza Minnelli becomes every New Yorker in the wake of 9/11, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has a Freudian revelation, and Jackie O works through her post-traumatic stress as the Obamas become America’s First Family.
Finley appears at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Outwrite is located at 991 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta, GA, 30309.11