Performance Provocateur

We once described Karen Finley as “professionally unprofessional.” That's fitting. Consider a performance piece she once did outside a San Francisco department store. She took off her clothes and pressed her bare flesh against the windows. Why? To see what reaction she'd get. She put bananas in her mouth. She kissed men who entered and exited the store. She attempted to mount a motorcycle that approached and parked. Pretty swiftly she got another reaction – it was the SFPD, and it came in the form of squad car. Someone had reported a woman who was either “insane, on drugs, or sexually 'out there,'” Finley says with a self-satisfied laugh. The ever-adaptable Finley continued her performance from the backseat of the car, pressing herself against its back windows. Finley is also an author, playwright, filmmaker, and composer. She takes the stage tonight at 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in “The Reality Shows: Karen Finley Uncensored” to talk about herself and her new book. She's scheduled to appear Thursday at 7 p.m at City Lights Books to discuss her new work, the similarly named The Reality Shows. Finley is known for grabbing sexual, gender, social, and political taboos by the lapels and tossing them in the face of whoever's watching. “I like to provoke people that somehow, with their political class in this society, control me,” she said in an interview with San Francisco publisher RE/Search. The events tonight and Thursday are billed as conversations. But with Finley, one never knows what will happen.
March 30-31, 2011

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