Through an intricately woven chorus of voices, Karen Finley performs Impulse to Suck: The Dreams of Laura
Bush/The Passion of Terri Schiavo, a performance piece based on the brain-dead Florida woman who became such a cause celebre in 2005 that Bush cut short a vacation in order to sign legislation allowing federal courts to intervene in her case. Tellingly, it's the voices of those who actually knew Schiavo -- her husband and her mother, who were on fiercely opposite sides during the fight over whether or not to disconnect her life-support systems -- that are presented with the least fanfare and the most compassion.
In the inactive and voiceless body of Schiavo, Finley clearly sees a
parallel with the gallery of maimed soldiers who open the piece. If the
ideal man is raised to kill and die, then the ideal woman, says Finley,
is one devoid of agency and opinions. It's a disturbing and extreme
position, to be sure. But as Finley's long career has often proved,
going to extremes often reveals uncomfortable realities.