Aug 24, 2010

Then and Now #5: the Blocks of Ice

1975: 'Duets on Ice' in Genova, Italy. Laurie Anderson and two Italian men on different levels of sociability.

Photo by Bob Bielecki

2005: Laurie Anderson opens her exhibition 'The Record of Time' at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland.

Photo source: Profimedia

"I love duets so I made a violin that plays by itself, so that I could play duets with it live. This combination of live and pre-recorded has been basic to my work for ever. This violin was played in five different places around New York. It was an endless cassette loop. Like many minimal pieces, it would start and yards and yards of material would go by and then it would stop, it didn't have a narrative structure typical to music, that's why it was minimalism."

"I used for this timing mechanism, for this endless piece of music a pair of ice-skates which I wore with their blades frozen into blocks of ice. I played this piece - endless loop - until the ice melted and I lost my balance and the concert was over. So, there I was, on this hot summer street of New York, wearing these ice-skates that were sort of gradually wobbling and then my ankles would splay out and the concert would be over and people were like "what's that?". But, for me, it had the social aspect of an audience which I really did enjoy as an artist because my question is always: who are you talking to? Who's your audience? Who are you making this for? History? Other artists? Critics? Your friends? General public? Box office? Who?"
(Laurie Anderson, on her Self-Playing Violin,
part of the MoMA's collection in New York)

If you go to the MoMA collection's website, you can listen to Laurie Anderson describe her Self-Playing Violin (1974) and 'Duets on Ice'.