Independent Article, 2014

Karen Finley

I think I’ve always made feminist work, even before I really had a word for it. Some of my earliest work made implicit reference to gender and the framework of my own social experience as a woman, and I clearly remember it being labelled as ‘angry’ work by some of my male peers. I always found that label very uncomfortable and think for many years I shied away from making explicitly feminist work for that very reason. The first time I cam across Karen Finley’s work I felt very differently. I felt liberated by her passion, and anger, and the way she used her body on stage.

I clearly remember the thrill I felt first coming across Karen Finley’s work. Until that point I’d been making work that had made implicit reference to feminist values, but had been afraid of making what some of my male peers had labelled ‘angry’ work. Watching her use anger, irreverence, and refreshingly unapologetic use of her body on stage inspired me to change the way I work. I decided to stop apologising about my political ideas, my body, the use of pop culture in my work. And I decided that if it got called ‘angry’, there was probably a damn good reason for it.