Karen Finley
Written in Sand

28 - 31 October 2015 / 20:00
The Pit

 Sold out

Seminal American performance artist Karen Finley makes a rare UK appearance with an elegiac anthology of spoken-word pieces that confronts the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York. Drawn from texts, letters and poetry compiled by the artist between 1983 and 1994, Written in Sand is a personal testimony recalling a time in which loss, indifference and cruelty came to define the lives of people with AIDS, their friends and families.

Interjecting her narrative with improvised wit, Finley is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Paul Nebenzahl. Covering themes of neglect to social exclusion, she embodies the period’s collective trauma and grief yet somehow leaves audiences feeling ‘more exhilarated than defeated’ (Villager, USA).

'A raging grief, adamantly undiminished' New York Times (USA)

1 hour 30 mins/no interval

Age guidance 16+

Fri 30 Oct
BSL-interpreted performance

28 Oct– 1 Dec
Ribbon Gate

Karen Finley invites any visitor to the Barbican to tie a ribbon on a gate installed in the Foyers as a public sculpture; a ceremony in memory of someone who has suffered from AIDS.

31 Oct, 2pm
Shock Treatment

Celebrating a special 25th anniversary edition, Karen Finley will read and reflect on her classic 1990 book Shock Treatment published by City Lights Books, which includes many of the performance texts that were considered 'obscene and indecent' at the time. She will discuss the tumultuous culture wars, when public funding for the arts was under attack and Finley became the named plaintiff in Finley vs. the National Endowment for the Art, a case that was brought to the Supreme Court in 1998. In addition to her reading, Finley will talk about finding joy in artmaking after a decade-long legal battle, and her creative process and production. Followed by a Q&A.
Age 18 +
60 mins

This event is part of:
Theatre & Dance
SPILL: Festival of Performance


Presented by the Barbican in partnership with SPILL Festival of Performance


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