Carnival Knowledge: Original Second Coming exhibition poster, 1984

New York: Ragged Edge Press, 1984. Vintage exhibition poster for art collective Carnival Knowledge's infamous "Second Coming" exhibition at Franklin Furnace, January 6 through February 4, 1984. Printed on the recto and verso.

A month-long exhibition and series of performances, Carnival Knowledge's "Second Coming" centered around the question "Could there be a feminist porn??!," with dozens of artists and writers participating, including Kathy Acker, Ida Applebrood, Judith Berstein, Tuli Kupferberg, and Annie Sprinkle, among many others. Divided between two floors, the exhibition featured an "Adult Bookstore" on the main floor, showcasing books and printed matter and smaller art objects, and a basement gallery floor laid out as a "home," with "imaginary rooms" containing participatory sculpture, videos, and interactive games. The final performance of the exhibition, the radical and unapologetic "Deep Inside Porn Stars," featured seven sex workers reenacting a group meeting addressing various issues and concerns of sex work, which Sprinkle credits as the event which allowed her transformation into a professional performance artist.

Carnival Knowledge's "Second Coming" sparked one of the earliest of the many National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) "Culture Wars" battles of the 1980s and 1990s, with conservative political and religious activist groups accusing Franklin Furnace of "showing pornography to 500 children per day." A striking and rare graphic document of the exhibition.

Carnival Knowledge was a collective of activist multi-media and performance artists and writers, who, using the vernacular of the sideshow, addressed issues of reproductive rights, homosexual civil rights, pornography, and other feminist issues, largely in response to the increasingly powerful conservative right-wing political organization, the Moral Majority. Their largest performance, prior to the "Second Coming" exhibition, was a self-titled carnival of art pieces, games, and performances about reproductive rights and female sexuality staged at the New School on March 10, 1981.

11 x 17 inches. Very Good plus, with creasing and staining to the left side margin.

[Book #155112]