May 5, 2017
May 14, 2017

The Expanded Unicorn Gratitude Mystery

Written and Performed by Karen Finley  

a black arrow pointing downward

Finley brings her rave reviewed solo performance that explores the recent heightened US political presidential landscape that takes on citizenship, gender disparity and abuse of power. The individual price of public relationships at the price of privacy becomes divisive with searing psychosexual dynamics of wit and seething revelation. The performance explores magical beings, aggressive thankfulness, and collective intimacy through Shakespearean family nation dramatic traumatics. This is an experimental nonlinear poetic text that creates a jolt of intuition, analysis and unnatural disaster of the human kind.

Finley plays a unicorn, and morphs into a Hillary-like Trump-like being while enveloping into the blueness of the blue dress of Monica Lewinsky.

In Unicorn –a humorous exploration of the imagined unattainable white horned beast and its racist and elitist symbol of whiteness.  While transparent in overt and covert meanderings of truisms, branding and liberal sophistication.  Lyrical and poetic amusings as a place to reconsider our embracing of the liberal feel good mythical captive beast kingdom.

In Gratitude – Finley performs with a range of double and triple entendre of cynicism, desire and eager acceptance revealing deeper meaning of aggressive thankful courtesy, the sacred unflexible space of the yoga mat compound, the Whole Food pay check utility life style that consumes contemporary gentrification. Still the longing for companionship amidst gender disparity and magical narcissism tendencies at full force unstoppable Finley. Finley positions Hilary and women in powerlessness within this gendered gratitude platform.

In Mystery –Finley dives deep in the language, emotion, and overwhelming terror of the uncontrollable, the intimacy of international and natural disaster as a poetic place to experience trauma, blueness, desperation and the mysterious mystery, the loss of control and ultimate fear of the unknown known. With the medias help the overkill of preoccupation of tragedy – where we are all on the show as passive audience. This evolving performance takes on current trauma at large from Trump as monster.  And finally Finley gives us a glimpse into the devalued male body for his body ready for war.

Born in Chicago, Karen Finley received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Working in a variety of mediums such as installation, video, performance, public art, visual art, entertainment, television and film, memorials, music, and literature, she has presented her work worldwide in various venues such as The Bobino in Paris, The ICA in London and Lincoln Center in NYC. Finley lectures and gives workshop at universities and museums internationally. Her work is in collections such as the Museum of Contemporary art and the Pompidou. She is the author of eight books, including a 25th anniversary edition of Shock Treatment ( City Lights 2015 ), Reality Shows, (Feminist Press 2011), and George and Martha ( Verso 2008). Her recent work includes, Artist Anonymous – a social practice self help open meeting for those addicted to art presented at Museum of Art and Design (2014) ,  and Written in Sand, a performance of music and her writings on AIDS, Open Heart, a Holocaust memorial at Camp Gusen, Austria; Broken Negative, where Finley reconsiders her infamous chocolate performance that brought her to the Supreme Court, in Finley vs. NEA; and at the New Museum, NYC Sext ME if You Can, where Finley creates commissioned portraits inspired by “sexts” received from the public. Finley creates interactive walks such as Mandala: Reimaging Columbus Circle Columbia Graduate school of Architecture and Elastic City. A recipient of many awards and grants including a Guggenheim Fellowship, NYSCA and NEA fellowships. In 2015 she was awarded the Richard J Massey Foundation Arts and Humanities award.

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Review: Karen Finley Has Presidential Politics on Her Mind

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How Karen Finley Turned Trump and Hillary Into Brilliant Performance Art logo


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“Performance artist Karen Finley is angry, topical, and provocative in her new show Unicorn Gratitude Mystery. She’s also hilariously funny. At the Laurie Beechman Theatre the other night, Finley turned commonplaces inside-out, skewering brittle cultural touchstones to the roaring delight of an audience tremendously pleased to be in on the joke. Gratitude journals and Donald Trump may be easy prey for someone with Finley’s arts and smarts, but she continues to find new, sometimes startling angles of analysis and attack.” – Jon Sobel, Blog Critics

Special Event

Post-show Talk Back

Join us for a post-show talk back on Saturday, May 13th with George Emilio Sanchez & Karen Finley

George Emilio Sanchez is the Chairperson of the Department of Performing and Creative Arts at the College of Staten Island.  He teaches undergraduate courses in the Drama program and graduate courses for the Education Department. He has directed six original student productions for the PCA and continues to work with students and classes with the goal of creating original theater/performance works.  He continues to work as a teaching artist outside of the college demonstrating how the arts can be utilized in education across disciplines.  He directs Emergenyc, the performance project for young “artivists” under the Hemispheric Institute umbrella.  He travels nationally and internationally to facilitate workshop on Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed techniques.  He collaborates with the Bronx Museum of the Arts as a consultant for their education program and he was the recipient of the Brooklyn Arts Exchange 2006 Arts Educator Award.