Dirty Pictures

A few years ago the comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner did a show called Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned, where the duo would be riff on subjects provided by the audience.


It’s a nice idea, and from what I can remember worked rather well, creating spontaneity in the routines it produced and being quite entertaining to see them having to react quickly to unpredictable things.

It’s not really something that transfers to other mediums, well, perhaps music if you ask for requests, but a brave artist has decided to do a variation on the idea.

First things first, I don’t know much about art. I know a few of the big names (Monet, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Picasso) and there are a few paintings that I really love, but that’s about it, and modern art is almost a total mystery to me, so I’d never heard of Karen Finley, the artist responsible.

Karen Finley

Karen Finley

The exhibit is apparently an “interactive performance presentation” and has taken a bit of a more risque approach with Finley’s exhibit being entitled “Sext Me If You Can”, and based on a simple premise.

Customers book appointments where they come into a little room and send a sext (suggestive, sexual text messages) which Finley will then adapt into pieces of art. It’s an interesting idea, and I’d be rather curious to see the results, and I like the element of Finley setting herself something of a challenge.

That being said, it does weird me out a little.

Firstly, there’s the idea itself, which while interesting is rather awkward. Sexuality and desire is a very personal thing and sharing them with anyone is a little uncomfortable. I’ve been in relationships with people and whenever there’s the “turn ons” conversation I’m always a little wary of how the other person is going to react. And it’s not like I’m into anything particularly messed up.

But one man’s turn on is another man’s turn off, and also your sext is going to be filtered through someone else’s perspective. It might be a bit awkward for Finley herself, especially if she receives something she’s not comfortable with.

So, it’s awkward for all concerned.

The artwork produced will be produced live in the museum by Finley, then put on display for the rest of the exhibit and then given to the sexter. The cheapest option is a paper picture at the price of $200 (£128.50) with the larger option setting you back $500 (£321.25), that’s not exactly cheap, and when you get them home where are you going to hang it?

I mean, sure it’s art, but it’s not just some risque piece, but something a bit more personal, it’s like you’re putting your desires and fetishes on display for the world to see. It’d be like leaving your internet history lying around. You’d have to hide the picture in an attic like Dorian Grey or something.

And even that’s not fool proof, I mean, you want to remember your grandparents as the people who gave you Werther’s Originals or taught you how to fish, those memories might be tainted slightly by the discovery that Grampa liked shemales and light bondage.

It’s a nice idea, but I think maybe in trying to grab headlines and be risque Finley’s made a hash of it. Surely drawing completely random things of all types would have been a more interesting artistic experiment.

Or maybe that’s just me being a bit of a fuddy duddy and for the more flamboyant art types are perfectly comfortable with this kind of stuff.

Story here.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


One Comment on “Dirty Pictures”

  1. Karen Finley’s autobiography is called “A Different Kind of Intimacy,” and her work is known to cut to the bone. So what seems odd to you about this art project has been a theme running throughout her entire career… and why the NEA grants were yanked by conservatives and she ended up before the Supreme Court. This is pretty par for the course.

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