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A CurtainUp Review
The Jackie Look
Finley's new piece, The Jackie Look, has her imagining what Jackie might have to say to us fifteen years after her death, on topics both public and private, sweepingly historical and minutely personal. Think Michelle Obama and ceramics, and you've basically got the range.
The Jackie Look opens with a guided tour via projections that takes us to the website for the Sixth Floor Museum, a facility housed in the Texas Book Depository and commemorating the assassination of President Kennedy. Jackie's commentary on the museum and its website provides a sardonic look at the rather cruel perversity of historical preservation that mocks the tackiness of it al. This tour winds up rather appropriately in the "shopping" portion of the website where one can find commemorative spoons and other collectibles.
This is all a good bit tamer than the kinds of performances Finley is typically known for, some of which have been labeled as obscene. But while she may not be nude or covered in chocolate this time around, that doesn't mean what's on display in The Jackie Look is not provocative. What we get is more cerebral and any shocks are delivered in the words spoken more than in the staging that accompanies them.
The trip to the virtual store is a humorous and interesting, if not terribly dramatic, discourse about the commodification of trauma. After the opening section, Finley takes a turn away from the perverse humor and dovetails into something that seems suited to a college lecture hall. It's a "talk" on her perspectives, and gives the audience a candid look at the pain beneath her famously kept composure, as well as opinions on the current state of gender politics. The at-times heady exploration of the exploitative means of historical commemoration is sprinkled with moments of unchecked emotion that seem like bleeding wounds.
Finley embodies Jackie with gentle poise, respect and intelligence. There memorable and touching moments, but the lecture-like setup often fails to hold attention, and the material deserves better.