ABOUT THIS SHOW
Written in Sand:
Collected Aids Writings
A solo spoken word performance
Renowned performance artist and activist Karen Finley returns to Chicago with two weekends of acerbic riveting performances taking on politics, sexuality, trauma, and national policy. As an artist who is known for her strong language, censorship and activism Finley brings her insight as an artist as historical recorder challenging the status quo. Finley was one the artists known as the NEA4 with a suit with the Supreme Court.
In her first weekend in Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, Finley presents Written in Sand: Collected Aids Writings, a powerful and moving collection of spoken word pieces reflecting on the AIDS epidemic. For Visual Aids 25th anniversary (2013), curated by Sur Rodney Sur in New York City, Finley was invited to participate in the exhibit. While looking over and revisiting her art and writing on the subject and era Finley gathered her poetic responses and discovered that it had become its own narrative, its own body of work. Sections of performance texts, poetry, letters and fragments express the loss and magnitude of personal suffering and compassion within a larger world of homophobia, denial and injustice. Some of these writings are those that were censored and considered indecent, bringing her and three other artists (Fleck, Hughes, Miller) to the Supreme Court.
KAREN FINLEY is an artist, performer, and author. Born in Chicago, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago and received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Working in a variety of mediums such as installation, video, performance, public art, visual art, memorials, music, and literature, she has performed and exhibited internationally. Finley is interested in freedom of expression concerns; visual culture; and art education and lectures; and gives workshops widely. She is the author of eight books, including her latest, the 25th anniversary edition of Shock Treatment (City Lights).
Her recent work includes Mandala: Reimagined Columbus Circle, an interactive walk that examines the symbols and history of Columbus Circle, presented by Elastic City and supported by GSAAP at Columbia University; Artist Anonymous – a self help open meeting for those addicted to art, first presented at Museum of Art and Design NYC; Written in Sand, a performance of her writings on AIDS; Open Heart, a Holocaust memorial at Camp Gusen, Austria; Unicorn, Gratitude Mystery, a solo performance that explores the psychological portrayals of power that drive American election politics; and Sext ME if You Can, where Finley creates commissioned portraits inspired by “sexts” received from the public. A recipient of many awards and grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is an arts professor in Art and Public Policy at New York University.
LookOut is Steppenwolf’s performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. Emerging artists and performance legends, quintessential Chicago companies and young aspiring ensembles, familiar Steppenwolf faces and new friends.