No other artist captures the drama and fragility of the AIDS era as Karen Finley does in her 1990 classic book Shock Treatment. In her new introduction to this 25th-anniversary edition, Karen Finley reflects on her journey from art school to the San Francisco North Beach literary scene to her campaign against censorship. A new poem reminds us of Finley’s disarming ability to respond to the era’s most challenging issues with grace and humor.
“Karen Finley is an iconoclast who, ironically, became an icon when her work in Shock Treatment was targeted by right wing politicians. This important book is as necessary and vital today as it was twenty-years ago.”—Sapphire
“Reading Shock Treatment today reminds me that Karen Finley has always been a writer of conscience. I remember seeing and hearing her read “The Black Sheep” off a piece of legal paper in the middle of a play at The Kitchen. No frills. She simply re-invented the poem.”—Eileen Myles
“Karen Finley’s un-careful rage was threatening because it is filled with grief, humor, and a profound passion for this life. Re-reading it, I feel refreshed, as if I’ve been self-policing for decades by tolerating boring, stupid things, and now I’m free again.”—Miranda July
“Shock Treatment is as timely and crucial as ever, inspiring feminist rage and wildness.” —Michelle Tea
“How exciting for you, me, Karen, and the world, to have an occasion to revisit this period of powerful and earth-shaking work. Culture wars? Those bastards had no idea what they were up against.”—Justin Vivian Bond
Karen Finley’s raw and transgressive performances have long provoked controversy and debate. She has appeared and exhibited her visual art, performances, and plays internationally. The author of many books including A Different Kind of Intimacy, George & Martha, and The Reality Shows, she is a professor at the Tisch School of Art and Public Policy at NYU.
Live Art Development Agency and City Lights Books, 2015. 14cm x 20.3cm, 168 pages, paperback with illustration by Karen Finley.