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Holly Hughes Preaching to the Perverted (1999)
  • Title: Preaching to the Perverted
  • Holdings: video (HIDVL)
  • Duration: 02:02:16
  • Language: English
  • Date: Sep 1999
  • Location: New Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, California, USA
  • Type-Format: performance
  • Credits: Written and performed by Holly Hughes; Directed by Lois Weaver.

Holly Hughes Preaching to the Perverted (1999)

Holly Hughes investigates the politics of art and democracy in Preaching to the Perverted (1999). Hughes begins the performance by discussing her appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case NEA v. Finley. Hughes, along with artists Karen Finley, John Fleck, and Tim Miller, had their grants revoked by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) on grounds of obscenity. These artists later known as "The NEA Four" filed a case against the National Endowment for the Arts asserting First Amendment and statutory claims. Throughout the performance, Hughes reenacts scenes from the U.S. Supreme Court trial that she calls “theatrical spectacles,” while noting the larger context of art censorship in the United States. She decenters national debates surrounding freedom, citizenship, and democracy from a lesbian feminist point of view and asserts her artistic freedom by creating performances that engage radical body politics. Hughes’ testimony, alongside those of Finley, Fleck, and Miller, led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of The NEA Four’s case against the National Endowment for the Arts. Following the performance, Hughes participates in a Q&A session with the audience where she further discusses The NEA Four case and the political climate in the United States during the 1990s. Hughes’ Preaching to the Perverted was intended to be part of Franklin Furnace’s “History of the Future” (1999) netcast on Pseudo Programs, Inc.’s The Performance Channel (www.channelp.com). However, the corporation went bankrupt during the height of the culture wars, leaving the performance footage dormant until being published in full by HIDVL in 2018.

Holly Hughes is a writer and performer who began her thespian adventures at W.O.W. Café Theater in New York City. Her performance work deals with questions of identity and sexual desire, drawing international recognition from artist communities. She is the recipient of the Village Obie Award and Guggenheim Fellowship. Hughes has received funding from Creative Capital, NYSCA, and the NEA, as well as the ire of the religious right during the culture wars. Her books include Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler (1996), O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance (1998), Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (2014), and Memories of the Revolution: Ten Years of the WOW Cafe (2015). Hughes is a Professor at the University of Michigan where she founded the BFA in Interarts Performance.


Video

Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2333.1/jq2bvsn7