LOS ANGELES — Twenty years after performing at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Ron Athey has come a long way from art world pariah to celebrated performance artist.
For his portion of the NEA Four residency at the New Museum, Tim Miller will be doing what he’s been doing for a good part of the past three decades — an intensive weeklong workshop with a group of artists, followed by a group performance of the work they develop during that time.
Have you ever seen that Naomi Watts film Ellie Parker? In it she plays an Australian actress in Los Angeles, not so different from the real Watts. Much of the film takes place in her car as she shuttles between auditions, intermittently giving herself pep talks, falling apart, and trying to conduct the business of living, despite an obsessive need to make sure she never misses a not-quite-opportunity.
Of the four artists known by history as the NEA Four, Karen Finley is the one whose full name many people remember, even if they know little else about the situation that led to the artists’ lawsuit against the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Holly Hughes was the first of the NEA Four artists to complete her week-long residency at the New Museum this month, and the first of the artists I had a chance to interview as part of this series looking at those four today. She had an eventful week, with events taking place not only at the museum but also around the city.
The NEA Four, now in residence at the New Museum, were denied National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants in 1990, after Congress passed a “decency clause.” How has arts funding changed in the past 20 years? Its current state would certainly “disabuse just about anyone of the idea that pursuing an artistic career in 21st-century America is a romantic enterprise.”