In 1990, the National Endowment for the Arts revoked performance artist, Karen Finley's fellowship because of her piece, We Keep Our Victims Ready. In Victims, Finley smeared chocolate sauce on her body, blanketed her self with bean sprouts and placed red hard candies on the tips of her breasts.
On Mar. 31, attorneys for Finley and the other members of the infamous "NEA Four" (Tim Miller, John Fleck, and Holly Hughes) are scheduled to begin presenting their case to the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC in an attempt to prove that the 1990 statute that gave Congress and the NEA the right to turn down funding of the arts based on content is unconstitutional.
In 1996, a Federal Court of Appeals ruled that the 1990 statute violated not only the First Amendment (which affirms freedom of speech, among other freedoms), but the Fifth Amendment -- which states that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." Now, the Federal Government is appealing that decision.
Finley, Miller, Fleck, and Hughes were dubbed the "NEA Four" after being singled out for violation of "decency and respect standards" by Senator Jesse Helms.
In June, Finley will return to New York with the world premiere of the tentatively titled, The Return of The Chocolate Smeared Woman, at The Flea Theater. In The Return of..., Finley explores the events surrounding We Keep Our Victims Ready and the NEA Four with plans to return to some of the visual motifs of the hard candies, bean sprouts and, of course, the "chocolate".
The show will be produced by The Bat Theatre Company, and directed by its artistic director, Jim Simpson. Also performing with Finley is members of The Bat's resident company of 31 actors, The Furballs.
Specific dates for the show are to be announced.
-- By Sean McGrath