Shock Treatment includes Karen Finley’s most provocative and acclaimed performance monologues, essays, and poems, with “The Constant State of Desire,” “We Keep Our Victims Ready,” “It's Only Art,” and “The Black Sheep.” Excoriating misogyny, homophobia, abusive families, greed, and state coercion of bodies and minds, Finley holds out hope for a world informed not by hate and fear, but by truth and unconditional love.
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Karen Finley is a New York–based artist whose performances have long provoked controversy and debate. Her performances have been presented at the Lincoln Center (NY), the Guthrie (Minneapolis), American Repertory Theater (Harvard), the ICA (London), the Steppenwolf (Chicago), and the Bobino (Paris). Her artworks are in numerous collections and museums including the Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Finley attended the San Francisco Art Institute receiving an MFA and an honorary PhD. She has received numerous awards and fellowships including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Obies, two Bessies, Ms. Magazine Woman Of The Year Award, NARAL Person of the Year Award, and NYSCA and NEA Fellowships. She has appeared in many independent films, including Jonathan Demme’s 1993 Oscar-winning film Philadelphia. She has written and/or edited eight books including Shock Treatment (City Lights, 1990), Enough is Enough (Poseidon, Simon and Schuster, 1993), Living It Up (Doubleday, 1996), Pooh Unplugged (Smart Art Books, 1999), A Different Kind Of Intimacy: The Collected Writings of Karen Finley (Thunders Mouth Press, 2000), George and Martha (Verso, 2006), and Reality Shows (Feminist Press, 2011). Current projects include Open Heart (a public memorial for children killed during the Holocaust created in collaboration with survivors, children, and locals). Finley is a professor at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in the department of Art and Public Policy.From Publishers Weekly:
Finley's performance art--for which she has recently become notorious--is intentionally discomfitting. The texts in Shock Treatment , some of which figure in her performances but the majority of which are recent writings, are coextensive with the reach of her live act, sharing the goal, indeed, of shocking. However, readers may find the effects here too shrill to be persuasive: "I know you want to experience the inspiration of the artist. So I take your Yuppie body and drag it down Avenue B and let your tongue roll along the street licking up the shit and piss, the sweat and blood of me, and you know what? You like it. You like it."p. 8 In the most scathing of terms, consumerism, sexism, homophobia, racism and societal violence are pilloried and personified. Finley's calculated histrionics admit no forgiveness. In the name of personal freedom, judgments are harshly rendered and executed with zeal. There is little warmth here, but cold compassion for the undefended; the crude drawings by the author serve to sharpen the book's astringency. As its title suggests, this book is not meant to offer readers a pleasant experience. Nonetheless, it is a document that boldly crosses the border between the political and the profane at a time when that region is in hot dispute. It should not go unread by those involved.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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