by Tony Adler
I've known Finley since we went to Evanston Township High School together decades ago. (Oddly enough, she was in one of a handful of Allan Kaprow-inspired happenings I put on there with a friend.) And I started writing about her when she was performing around Chicago in the 80s, before she moved to New York for good. The syrup and such were shocking, all right, but what stunned me more than anything was the verbal aspect of her art—the diatribes, which put me in mind of nothing so much as the Hindu death goddess Kai. As I recollected when Finley came to town for a performance in 2003, "I thought of her as much more than an artist or performer. I considered her an oracle. The monologues that accompanied her dead serious food fights channeled a rage so pure as to be archetypal. Kali-like. She seemed to be spoken through rather than speaking, and there was a sense that whoever was possessing her cared nothing about the consequences for anyone present."
Finley is a professor at NYU now—a kind of provocateur emeritus. It seems significant that the last substance she publicly doused on herself wasn't brown chocolate or goopy peanut butter but golden honey. Still, when I contacted her for this piece and asked her some questions that annoyed her, she slapped me down fast and hard (though not without style). What else should I have expected from Kali?