Online Talk with Karen Finley – Venus Envy: Artist as HERstorical Recorder


Photo: Dona McAdams

Venus Envy: Artist as HERstorical Recorder
Karen Finley

Thursday, March 4 2:30-4:30 pm EST
Public Talk

This event will take place on Zoom.
Please RSVP to and a Zoom Link will be sent out prior to the event.

During this time of the pandemic, and recent political turbulence, Karen Finley’s lecture will inquire into art as an experimental forum for research and scholarship. She will share some examples of her artworks and performances as intentional interventions for social change. How does art create space for agency and inspiration, as well as for the expression of imaginative possibility and innovation? How might artists move forward with their work to create a better tomorrow? How can artistic practice be oriented toward cultural empowerment? Strategies such as irony, re-imagining, reclaiming, resistance, speaking up and art as revolution will be part of the conversation.


Karen Finley, Nude in Museum (1992); photo: courtesy of the artist

Karen Finley is an interdisciplinary artist who works in visual art, performance, literature, music and new media. She was the named plaintiff with three other artists (John Fleck, Holly Hughes and Tim Miller) in the notorious case of the United States Supreme Court National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley (1998) when grants approved by this art agency were denied. Their lawsuit advocated for freedom of expression, confronting censorship and homophobic standards of decency contingent to government funding. Finley is the author of eight books, most recently Grabbing Pussy (2018) and the 25th edition of Shock Treatment (2015). She appeared in the film, Philadelphia directed by Jonathan Demme and was featured as a commentator in Politically Correct, with Bill Maher. Karen Finley has presented her work internationally including Documenta (Athens), La Pietra (Florence), The Barbican Centre (London), Lincoln Centre (New York) and REDCAT (Los Angeles). She is Arts Professor in Art and Public Policy in the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

Karen Finley’s presentation comprises the public lecture component of In Practice, the 2020 Goldfarb Summer Institute curated by professors Jennifer Fisher and Barbara Balfour of the Department of Visual Art and Art History at York University. In Practice interrogates what it means to engage with “practice” as a lens for dynamic relationality, performativity and ethics in aesthetic expression. The seminar has featured collaborative, feminist, Indigenous, contemplative and activist practices in contemporary art and curating that impact personal, political and cultural transformation. Guest presenters included Karen Finley, Marysia Lewandowska, Jess Dobkin, Lisa Myers, Emelie Chhangur, Marcus Boon and Gabe Levine.

This event is organized by the Department of Visual Art and Art History in conjunction with Sensorium: The Centre for Digital Art and Technology. We gratefully acknowledge the Goldfarb family’s generous support of Visual Art and Art History Summer Institute.