Once upon time, in another world, Karen Finley gave the people what they did not yet know they wanted. She got a lot of flack for it, and a lot of praise, too. Yet neither could stop her from doing whatever it was she decided to do.
Had Finley come of rage now, every outburst would be meme'd to no end. But back then, before social media devoured us whole, life was lived in the moment, rather than reflected on as it was unfolding. And any recorded evidence of its existence was left for posterity; not immediately uploaded on YouTube.
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In other words, you had to be there. And if you weren't, you weren't. Because it was there and then where you could feel Finley's full impact. And if her in-your-face style left you a little black-and-blue, all the better.
These days Finley may not be as antagonistic, but she'll still get in your face. In fact, for the three days she's going to get under your skin too -- she'll be painting people's Psychic Portraits at Aqua Art Fair.
Cultist met with the revered actionist to fill us in on the upcoming action; here's what she had to say:
New Times: Just what, prey tell, is a Psychic Portrait?
Karen Finley: A Psychic Portrait - is a visual intuitive interpretation of the individual via automatic writing, symbols, images that does not solely rely on portrait realism. The person sits with me (although I have done it via phone - with pets - and events or through mediation) and I go into an altered state where I create a work of art.
I usually go into my own silent space of focus while I am being given the images and words - I have to work quickly for I can only suspend myself to receive the information - I then read and go over the information for the person - They will understand the meaning.
Does it take two to pull off such a tango (or it really only up to the painter to be tuned in)?
That is a very good question - If I feel an energy that does now want to be drawn - I will gently approach the energy to not be afraid - and I try and be patient - I love this question - I ask permission to feel and receive the intuition - an inner portrait - spirit soul portrait - although at times I do paint interpret with human qualities.
What does a willing subject have to do to have their Psychic Portrait painted by you at Aqua?
Make an appointment with Coagula Curatorial.
Will the one-on-one be private or will folks be allowed to watch?
They can watch from a distance - But I have done visual seances/ automatic writing in public where those who have passed can speak through me via automatic writing.
And what becomes of the portrait once it's completed?
The person can purchase it.
What first prompted you to commit to painting such a thing anyway?
I have a background as a card reader - using divination - these gifts - skills - are part of my family history passed on - at one point I was considering to focus in this area - so I am combining my abilities - and to consider the spiritual - the psyche - the artist as seer - magician - as so it is to be personal reflection and seeing - we take so many pictures on Instagram - albums by the thousands - but with the tradition of portrait painting - the intimacy of sitting with your subject is human, face to face and profound.
How did it all come to be at Aqua?
I heard that Aqua had a courtyard - I have done the portraits with Coagula Curatorial - and it seemed like the project to do.
Do you, er, foresee more of such series in your near (or far) future?
(Laughs.) I would like to continue doing this as my art practice - I love the observing, reflecting on the portrait as a space of mystery - imagination - and not only the hand eye ability of coordination - but the hand heart hand spirit love energy.
What (else?) do you foresee in the future for Karen Finley?
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I am very interested in doing projects that engage social stratas - just finished the following:
- Artists Anonymous - a support group for artists.
- Mandala: Reimagined Columbus Circle - where i interpret the building and urban landscape of Columbus Circle via a performative walk.
- Written in Sand - writing compilations on AIDS (a performance with music).
- Broken Negative - re-examining my infamous chocolate performance that went to the Supreme Court.
Karen Finley's Psychic Portraits, through December 6, 4 to 6 p.m. at Aqua Art Fair, 1530 Collins Ave., Miami Beach.