Out From Under

Just before Out From Under was published, two of the performance artists whose monologues are found here were denied funding from the now-squeamish National Endowment for the Arts. What’s ironic is that the women — Holly Hughes and Karen Finley — give the two best-written and most astonishing ”performances” in the book. Elsewhere, the volume is uneven. Laurie Anderson’s seven-hour piece, United States, is reduced to five pages to little avail. Other works simply lose force on the way from the stage to the page. Out From Under makes some important points, though: that performance artists can live without the NEA but that they shouldn’t have to, and that even the most polemical pieces are far more than confrontation for confrontation’s sake. ”So I took too many sleeping pills and nothing happened,” Finley tells us. ”So I worked for ERA, voted for Jesse Jackson and nothing happened…So I petitioned, rioted, terrorized, and organized and something is going to happen.” A-

Out From Under
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