karen-finleySexting might just be the great artistic medium of our time. Simultaneously intimate and cold, those pixel-wrought nudes will be all that’s left of human civilization when we’ve finally nuked each other to oblivion.

To that end, the awesome performance artist Karen Finley incorporated the practice into her latest interactive piece, “Sext Me If You Can,” which is at New York’s New Museum through this weekend. For the exhibition, Finley invited patrons to commission an original artwork by coming in for a ten-minute “sitting” in which they were given a number and invited to sext her. From these sexts, Finley made paintings, which are now on display at the museum. At the end of the exhibit, those lucky patrons of the arts will get to take home their sext portraits for $200-$500, which I think most people will agree is very reasonable for something made by a famous artist and shown in a major museum. Whether they decide to hang the paintings in the dining room as a family conversation piece or keep them locked away to appreciate in value is entirely up to them.

As performance art goes, I think this is pretty effective. It’s a participatory piece that ties together technology, old school painting techniques, erotic exchange, commerce, “high art” and “low art,” all in a humorous package. Plus, it gives patrons a rare chance to not only buy, but commission a piece art. But the way I found out about it was via several of my Facebook friends complaining about how stupid and money-wasting it was, so I’m guessing not everyone agrees with me.

This is not the first time Finley has pushed the boundaries of our perceptions of what “art” is; over twenty years ago, her provocative pieces prompted conservative senators to impose “decency” standards on NEA grants. That she can still produce relevant work that provokes strong reactions in people today just proves to me that she’s the real deal.

And here’s a nice, in depth profile of Finley, if you are interested in learning more about her. Art!

(Via The New Museum)

Photo: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders