Karen Finley

February - September, 1998
1-900 Performance
Photo © 1998 Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Every day for six months, Finley recorded a daily message that audiences across the country could access. Her phone commentary responded to a range of topics including observations on news headlines and social injustices as well as more personal reflections on motherhood and daily life. Listeners experienced a virtual, one-on-one look at an artist.

Inspired by America's growing fascination with the telephone as a personal, yet anonymous outlet for information and companionship, Finley chose to use telecommunications as a vehicle to connect to a national audience. She specifically appropriated a 900 exchange (usually associated with the charlatanism of phone sex, horoscopes, and psychics) as a venue to explore free expression.

In 1990 Finley's National Endowment for the Arts grant was rescinded due to political charges of obscenity. She fought the NEA's decision and in 1992 the grant was reinstated.

Continue to Site