Friday 05/24/13 3PM-6PM
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“Sext Me if You Can” by Karen Finley: Performance and Installation

Cover Image:

Photo of Karen Finley by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Presented as part of NEA 4 in Residence.

“Sext Me if You Can” is an interactive performance installation taking place in the New Museum Lobby in full view of Museum visitors. For this performance, Karen Finley creates a limited edition of paintings inspired by “sexts” that she receives from participating patrons. Participation takes the form of a commission and requires a ten-minute private and anonymous sitting on-site during announced performance times (bring your own cell phone!). Through this process, the erotic exchange with the artist—bound by rules of commerce—transforms into a lasting and collectible work of art. For more information on how to participate, please see below.


Thursday May 23–Sunday May 26

New Museum Store patrons are invited to commission a participatory work of art by Karen Finley for their personal collection. Here’s how it works: Patrons who wish to participate process their commissioning fee online or in person at the New Museum Store and are subsequently provided with a time to be present for a ten-minute on-site sitting during announced performance times. Sittings are completely private, discrete, and anonymous. During your sitting, you will receive access to a private phone number for the purpose of sending Finley a “sext.” This sext will, in turn, serve as the inspiration for a painting, or series of paintings, created by the artist in a temporary studio set up in the New Museum Lobby. The paintings will be displayed for the duration of the installation, from May 23–26. At the end of the installation, participating patrons (now collectors) will take home one of the paintings inspired by their sext.

Participants must be at least eighteen years old. No exceptions.


Large Oval Canvas – $500 (Edition of 8)
Small Oval Canvas – $300 (Edition of 12)
Works on Paper – $200 (Edition of 25)

Finley is a New York–based artist whose performances have long provoked controversy and debate. Her performances have been presented at the Lincoln Center (NY), the Guthrie (Minneapolis), American Repertory Theater (Harvard), the ICA (London), the Steppenwolf (Chicago), and the Bobino (Paris). Her artworks are in numerous collections and museums including the Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Finley attended the San Francisco Art Institute receiving an MFA and an honorary PhD. She has received numerous awards and fellowships including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Obies, two Bessies, Ms. magazine Woman Of The Year Award, NARAL Person of the Year Award, and NYSCA and NEA Fellowships. She has appeared in many independent films, including Jonathan Demme’s 1993 Oscar-winning film Philadelphia. She has authored and/or edited eight books including Shock Treatment (City Lights, 1990), Enough is Enough (Poseidon, Simon and Schuster, 1993), Living It Up (Doubleday, 1996), Pooh Unplugged (Smart Art Books, 1999), A Different Kind Of Intimacy: The Collected Writings of Karen Finley (Thunders Mouth Press, 2000), and Reality Shows (2011). Current projects include “Unicorn in Red” (an ongoing series of performances in which Finley receives automatic messages from those departed and turns those messages into artworks), Broken Negative (a re-examination of her infamously defunded work We Keep Our Victims Ready), and Open Heart (a public memorial for children killed during the Holocaust created in collaboration with survivors, children, and locals). Finley is a professor at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in the department of Art and Public Policy.

Presented in conjunction with “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star” and IDEAS CITY.


This program is made possible, in part, through the support of the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Education and public programs are made possible by a generous grant from Goldman Sachs Gives at the recommendation of David B. Heller & Hermine Riegerl Heller.

Support for the exhibition is provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, and the Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Fund.

The accompanying exhibition publication is made possible by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.

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