LIVING IT UP: Humorous Adventures in Hyperdomesticity by Karen Finley

LIVING IT UP: Humorous Adventures in Hyperdomesticity

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Controversial performance artist Finley, who sent up self-help groups in Enough Is Enough (not reviewed), gives her downtown edge to household goddess Martha Stewart and other icons of supermarket domesticity. It isn't easy to pastiche Stewart, who designed a line of house paints based on the colors of the eggs her chickens laid. But Finley gets in some funny lampoons while uncovering the edgy obsessiveness and darker psychology of a life lived close to a glue gun. Just as Stewart publishes a monthly calendar of her formidable activities, so Finley uses the easy frame of a calendar year for her satire (October--Halloween, when 50 guests are served a breakfast of lifesize marshmallow ghost pancakes). Finley tells us, ""I've come to the conclusion that there is a craft project in everything around us."" Some of the projects are topical no-brainers: Father's Day parties decorated in a Lorena Bobbitt/penis motif; Menendez room makeovers for angry teenagers, with pictures of Lyle and Erik on the wail. More are grotesque and macabre: cockroach centerpieces for Easter (bunny ears are attached to their little bodies); bath mats woven from hair caught in the bathtub drain; and a do-it-yourself casket. Finley lines hers with ""handmade velvet from France that I've bleached, dyed, and detailed with lace made by nuns in Belgium."" One feels that Stewart could easily one-up her there. Finley is more fun when she's silly and surreal: ""Well, wouldn't you know that under my left armpit I started growing marigolds! The dwarf orange variety. I left them alone till they got established."" And she's more pointed in her diary of a depressed and angry woman: ""5:30 A.M.: I don't want to get up. No one cares about my thirty-foot coconut cake heart with cherry butter cream inside."" With her funny illustrations, Finley serves a merely clever amuse-gueule that could have been a more substantial meal.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1996
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Doubleday