Walker Art Center

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In Conversation: Ron Athey



In 1994, the Walker presented artist Ron Athey’s Four Scenes in a Harsh Life at Patrick’s Cabaret. The infamous performance, which involved ritual incision, sparked a national debate on art and censorship leading to the slashing of the National Endowment for the Arts budget, the near-complete elimination of individual artists’ grants, and a powerful chilling effect on controversial artwork. Twenty-one years later, Athey reflects on how, and if, the needle on creative freedom has shifted in a discussion with former Walker performing arts curator John Killacky and art historian Jennifer Doyle. Moderated by feminist/queer theory scholar and art historian Lauren DeLand.