Gossip columns. How the news is overcome by “movers and shakers” — Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears! Often as in the case of The New York Post’s Page Six, rife with trumped up reports engineered to trigger a Jerry Falwellish sense of moral outrage. It’s this “state-of-the art” in journalism that Karen Finley turns into her very own ruthless mockery.
In her latest piece “Wake Up”, the performance artist reports the dreams of Laura Bush, evoking in the process, a series of tabloid scandals far more probing than any you’ll ever read in the media. Here Finley is in top form, mocking columnists the likes of Tina Brown who elevate the low to the lofty. Finley on the other hand, teases us with the erotic excitement of taking the lofty and making it low.
Such are the dreams of Laura Bush, narrated with the aid of visual projections which Finley carefully slides into place. Through these rough sketches The First Lady describes her subconscious thoughts, envisioning herself as Britney Spears in a pair of grossly revealing jeans or recounting her sexual fantasies about George Stephanopoulos and her imagined affair with a certain Iraqi Ambassador. One dream in which Karl Rove and Dick Cheney establish a national holiday for gas stations turns into a nightmare when she discovers W and Condoleezza in bed together. As she realizes she has to leave, Princess Di arrives cautioning her not to have an accident. Laura ponders the “flight” options. If she takes United she’ll be with George Bush. If she takes American she goes with the rest of the country.
Throughout, Finley explores the panorama of the First Lady’s dreamscape with a schoolgirl’s verve, demonstrating her brilliant finesse for playing high-low games. The effect is a humor that’s distorted, jagged, and probing.
Part II of “Wake Up” evokes the outcry surrounding keeping Terri Schiavo alive. Finley portrays the coma victim’s husband and mother, raising their hysterical voices into a primal cry. In this case, the humor is sometimes too hard to take, sometimes deplorable, lacking good taste. But Finley’s emotional pitch still registers alongside her description of a proposed reality TV series “American Killer” in which catatonic idols would be wheeled around by caretakers and every week America would vote on who can be taken off life support.
In spite of some vulgar moments and her penchant for narcissism, Karen Finley is sexy, stimulating, and absolutely brilliant. As Tina Brown would put it, she is “v. hot”.
By Isa Goldberg
October 7 – November 18, Sundays at 7:00pm.
Tickets $22 For information call 212 239-6200
Running Time: 90 Minutes
The Green Room (45 Bleecker Street) is located at the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette Streets — accessible from the 6 train at Bleecker or the F,V, B,D trains at Broadway-Lafayette).