Oct 31, 2010

"The Real, the Unreal, and the Surreal"

Two fresh reviews of 'Delusion' at the Clarice Smith Performance Center in College Park, Maryland:

  • Woe Man, Woah Man's recent review compares the experience to "watching the unconscious open up and put on a play"

Sorry, I Could Not Resist This One

"This is me in my Halloween costume."

(Laurie Anderson in 'Talk Normal: A Lecture by Laurie Anderson', Tokyo 1987)
(the screen capture is actually from the video for 'Language Is a Virus' / Home of the Brave, 1984)

Making Something Is Really *Daring*

Australian writer / blogger Chris Boyd's interview with Laurie Anderson in three parts, on - amongst others - disembodiment, angels, elephants, the 'Homeland' performances as "back pocket shows" and the beauty of being an artist:
  1. "The lost art of conversation..."
  2. Homeland
  3. "when people say 'I know exactly what you're talking about!"

(Note: for me, the order of the interview parts somehow seems to have been reversed, that's why I put "part three" into the first place and so on.)

Oct 30, 2010

Salvador Espriu's Homeland

Trial Hymn in the Temple

by Salvador Espriu

Oh, how tired I am of my
craven old brutish land,
and how I’d like to get away from it
to the north,
where they say people are clean
and noble, learned, rich, free
wide-awake and happy.
Then, in the congregation, the brothers would say
disapprovingly: “Like a bird who leaves the nest
is that man who forsakes his place,”
while I, now far away, would laugh
at the law and ancient wisdom
of this, my arid village.
But I must never follow my dream
and I’ll stay here till I die.
For I’m craven and brutish too.
And what’s more I love, with a
desperate grief,
this my poor,
dirty, sad, unlucky homeland.

(As read by Laurie Anderson in 2008,
at the KOSMOPOLIS International Literature Fest / Made in CataluNYA.
Translation by Magda Bogin)

  • Read it here - along with the other Catalonian poems read by Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed and Patti Smith.

  • Listen to it - Mnemosyne's improvised piano accompaniment to Laurie Anderson's reading (audio length: 1 min 12 secs, file size: 1.1 MB).

Oct 29, 2010

Paul Klee, Free Association & 'Me'

It was August, summer of 82.
You had a rusty old car

And me

- I had nothing better to do.

We were goin' in circles.

And me

- I was just hanging on.

You did all the talking.

And me

- I didn't make a sound.

Weasel keeps hangin' on
Together forever

And me?

- I'm goin' in circles.

I've floated on an icecap with a white polar bear
I've floated up and down the golden stairs
I've seen whales and caught in sails all twiskeetwee

But me?

I don't say much.


It's your turn to walk along the runway road.

And me?

I sent my better self on ahead.


Some people know exactly where they're going
The pilgrims to Mecca
The climbers to the mountain top

But me,

I'm looking for just a single moment
So I can slip through time


1: Hot Pursuit / Paul Klee, 1939
2: Sinbad the Sailor / Paul Klee, 1923
3: Snake Paths / Paul Klee, 1934
4: Tightrope Walker / Paul Klee, 1923

Lyrics excerpts from
'Speechless (The Eagle and the Weasel)',
'The Island Where I Come From',
'One Beautiful Evening',
and 'Life on a String'
- all written by Laurie Anderson

Beauty of the World

The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize is "awarded to a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind's enjoyment and understanding of life through performances on the stage or in films or in any other area of the performing arts, by writing or composing a book, libretto, score, composition or other artistic work to be used in the performing arts, by directing performances, plays or films, by conducting orchestras or recitals or who has designed a stage set, theater, concert hall, opera house or other artistic or architectural creation for use in the performing arts or through other fields of art such as architecture, painting, sculpture, poetry and literature. The recipient should by excelling in his or her field have served as a model and encouragement to all others who would follow in his or her path. It is [Lillian Gish's] desire, by establishing this prize, to give the recipients of the prize the recognition they deserve, to bring attention to their contributions to society and to encourage others to follow in their path".

In 2007, Laurie Anderson was the chosen one.

By clicking to the picture below, you can watch the video of the Gish prize ceremony honoring Laurie Anderson, along with appreciative words and performances from friends and fellow artists Marina Abramović and Philip Glass (among others). The video opens in a new window.

Laurie's acceptance speech starts at 36 minutes into the video. This article at CultureKiosque cites parts of her speech about untrue-but-good stories and NASA's ambitious long-time plans. At 47', there's an after-ceremony interview with the freshly honored Laurie Anderson.

Oct 28, 2010

Anderson Paints

"I have a very strong inner child."
(Laurie Anderson - as translated back from Portuguese)

Oct 27, 2010


I don't have any additional information on this photo, I stumbled upon it at random, photos from those heydays of casual collaborations around Europe seem to pop up so rarely (and, according to the description below, this one must have been pretty interesting), I just needed to share:

"1979 - Truus and Laurie Anderson collaborating at the Vleeshal in Vlissingen, The Netherlands,
at an incredible show organized by Michel Waisvisz that included cheese wheels dropped from planes and exploding manure littered seating for a finale"*
Photo by Dirk Stevesyns

* the source of the quote and the photo is this website

"Bafflingly Powerful Images"

Three random reviews of 'Homeland' from the recent past:

  • Making Contact - a lengthy description of Fenway Bergamot and a few words on the making process of 'Homeland' at Express Night Out

  • "akin to walking around with near-sightedness all your life and then being granted a pair of corrective lenses" - Emmanuel Hapsis at KQED Arts is thrilled by the album

Oct 26, 2010

More 'Delusion' Concert Photos

Laurie Anderson's 'Delusion' in Los Angeles, October 2010
Photo by Sung

... just found even more recent concert photos of 'Delusion', this time from UCLA, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA.

More Questions Than Answers

Jeff Moehlis gives quite a detailed description of Laurie Anderson’s Grand ‘Delusion’ in his review of the recent Santa Barbara performance, along with an extensive photo gallery of the event.

Laurie Anderson's 'Delusion' in Santa Barbara, October 2010
Photo by L. Paul Mann

Oct 24, 2010

Idiots Delight with Laurie Anderson

A "quiet, intimate, stimulating" chat between Laurie Anderson and radio host Vin Scelsa from 1995, along with the audio commentary by Vin Scelsa 11 years later. This is 'Idiot's Delight Redux' on WFUV Radio  (formerly on WXRK), nicely preserved in the radio station's internet archive. Back in April 1995, after the closing night of 'Nerve Bible' at the Neil Simon Theatre, Laurie went right into the studio for this conversation.

It's hilarious, it's neat, it's multilayered - a real gem; touching on such a wide range of subjects that it almost seems unuseful to list them here... Nevertheless, I mention just some of them: the pair of animal songs on Bright Red, how it felt to be a five-year-old, the story behind 'Duets on Ice', the Houdini-style photo shoot by Annie Leibowitz, Laurie Anderson as a cheerleader (!), what's worth risking your life for, John Cage, experimenting with silence on the radio, (unlike) Van Gogh, computer animation, 'Angel Fragments' ('Wings of Desire' soundtrack), and 'Hey ah', "another frozen north story" read by Laurie live from the Nerve Bible (originally appeared on United States Live). What more can I say - highly recommended.

Link kindly provided by Timeiswide - thank you, T.

Oct 21, 2010

The Hand in It

Laurie Anderson speaking about the importance of personality in a work of art in this video trailer for photographer Anderw Zuckerman's new album of musicians' portraits: MUSIC. (Andrew Zuckerman was the photographer of, amongst others, Fenway Bergamot's portrait that made it to the album cover of 'Homeland'. Judging from various discernible details, the video might have been made at the time of the shooting of this this photo.)

Oct 18, 2010

A Bunch of Recent Conversations

Eat. Sleep. Read. Enjoy.

  • Dreams and 'Delusions' - Bob Goepfert's interview with "one of the most successful artists most people don’t know" on TroyRecord

  • The Sunday Conversation: Laurie Anderson - Irene Lacher's conversation with the "irrepressible globetrotter" in the LA Times; on 'Delusion', I in U / Eu em Tu, Bob Dylan, pushing buttons, playing music for dogs and more.

Laurie Anderson and Lolabelle
Photo by Carolyn Cole / L. A. Times

Babbleboxing in the Arctic...

What do Grigoriy Mikheev, icebergs and beatboxing have together? (On this blog?) You guessed it. Or, for the answer, listen to this fragment Shlomo's Babelbox podcast:

(You can listen to the whole podcast from Cape Farewell here.)

Oct 15, 2010

Smells Like Some Gaps in the Map...

  • Nov 5-14 2010: Estoril Film Festival (Portugal) - member of the jury along with Lou Reed
  • Nov 6 2010: East Sussex (UK) - Transitory Life
  • Nov 9 2010: Chorzow (Poland) - Transitory Life
  • Nov 11 2010: Bucharest (Romania) - Transitory Life
  • Nov 13 2010: Florence / Firence (Italy) - Delusion
  • Nov 25 2010: Bilbao (Spain) - Transitory Life
  • Dec 2 2010: Rome (Italy) - Delusion

... but hey! Laurie is coming to Europe this fall!!! Go and check out the dates and venues and ticket infos on Angelika's recently updated Spreken website and take a look at the Strange Angel on the Brooklyn Bridge! :)

Drum Dance 2010!

Last night Laurie appeared as a guest on Brazilian talk show 'Programa do Jô'. After a conversation rambling on subjects like Fenway Bergamot, the story of the Singing Table, working at McDonald's and NASA, she even did a new version of her drum dance, too - see it in the second video.

Oct 14, 2010

Dwarfed by Icebergs and the Possibility of a Disappearing Planet

Trailer of 'Burning Ice', Peter Gilbert's documentary on an arctic expedition exploring climate change in 2008 by a Russian ice-breaking ship with 40 scientists and artists of the widest range on board, offering breathtaking footage of icy landscape for those (count Mnemosyne in) who always wanted to get to the North:

Idiosyncratic and Ancestral

"Laurie Anderson created a category for herself, a category that could be defined as a state of permanent mutation."
Marcello Dantas, curator of Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil

Read Dharma/Arte blog's description of I in U / Eu em Tu, Laurie's retrospective art exhibition in São Paolo, featuring a photo of a renewed, round Handphone Table, plus another video recording of 'Duets on Ice' at the end of the article.

Oct 13, 2010

Deep, Deep, Deep Illusion

"I think the thing I love best about science is that it's always wrong... it's always changing."

"I'm somebody who believes - not knows, believes - that we're not even here. None of us are even in this room. Much of what we experience is a deep, deep illusion. I trust that more than anything, I have to say."
(Laurie Anderson in São Paolo, Brasil, October 2010)

Physical but Intangible

Fragments of 'Duets on Ice' by Laurie Anderson - the 2010 version:

A Book in Code

"The very key to [Eu em Tu / I in U] is a little book which is a book in code. I used to - and still do - write down a lot of dreams because I find that it's an interesting way to know this certain insane part of yourself, [where] you have the privilege of being quite crazy.

I write them down and I thought, well, I wonder really if there is a code to understand [the dreams]. So I put them in a code. I used a code that's similar to codes that were used in World War Two, encryption, and the way encryption was done was with poems.

The message is in a kind of poetry. I feel that language itself is a kind of coding system. It is very hard to really say what you actually mean - you have to go through so many formalities to try to get to [what you mean to say].

The line of poetry I used to encrypt these dreams was one of my favourite poems, a line from George Herbert, who is a 17th century English metaphysical love-poet. He wrote a poem to music:
"Now I in you / without a body move". And it was just the way music comes into your body and moves around - but not in a tangible way. In a very physical way, but not a tangible way.

I love this poem because it's how I feel about images and music and words - that they have ways that they can invade you that you can't quite describe so well. But it's the physicality of it that I like as an artist."

(Laurie Anderson in São Paolo, Brasil, October 2010)

Oct 7, 2010

"No Oreos Today. Have a Chipwich"

... The line above is an excerpt from the lyrics of 'The Laurie Anderson Song', a dead-on spoof on guesswho, done by the cast members of the comedy sketch tv series 'The State'. The track appears on their new album, 'Comedy for Gracious Living' (actually the album had been recorded back in 1996 but has been shelved since then until very recently). Here you can listen to a fragment of the song (see track 8), which sounds IMHO simply hysterical. :)

Masses of Beautiful Imagery

So she said to me, "I want you to listen to the music." She put me in front of these big windows overlooking the Hudson River, and she said, "I want you to think about clouds."
(Yolanda Cuomo on designing cover art for Laurie Anderson)

Today's random goodness is an interview with Yolanda Cuomo, designer of album covers for 'Bright Red' and 'The Ugly One with the Jewels', the 'In Our Sleep' single and the poster for the 'Moby Dick' performances. She told ArtDesignCafé about the fascinating process of co-operating with Laurie Anderson on her visual image in the 90s. At the end of the article, you can find Laurie's portrait that was created on the basis of Yolanda Cuomo's draft above.

Oct 6, 2010


Read FreeWilliamsburg's interview with Laurie Anderson on what 'Delusion' actually is about, and the importance to set your priorities right. It seems her words have set some minor resentment in certain readers (see the comments under the article)...

Oct 5, 2010

"I like to do things that I don't know how to do for fun."

WKCR's (Columbia University's radio station) 'Arts and Answers' show featured a recent interview with Laurie Anderson on September 30, 2010. Unfortunately I missed the show by one day but Annie Minoff, the programme's host was kind enough to provide me with the stream which I am proudly presenting here, on Files on a String. Thank you, Annie!

Annie Minoff talked with Laurie Anderson in her studio about 'Delusion' and "the sensation she calls mental drift", Laurie's wunderhund Lolabelle who has just finished her Christmas record, various manifestations of one mother, Fenway Bergamot's "different ways", the "insane third of everyone's lives" (i. e. dreams), Laurie's retrospective performance called 'Transitory Life', audience personalites and many more.

Oct 3, 2010

A True Renaissance Woman

It's about starting time of the last performance of 'Delusion' at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (yes, it's going to be a matinee).


In times like this, Mnemosyne tends to doubt that she was born in the right continent but as those moments of imprudence fade away, others come, connected to certain mountains and ancient Arab prophets... (nevertheless, the picture is not as clear as it could be, since in this story both the 'prophet' and the 'mountain' move - but it's just life's imperfection. And stories are fun either way!)


In the meantime, here's Tim Needles' interview with Laurie Anderson; made on the occasion of the New York premiere of 'Delusion'. Without going into details, Mnemosyne gives you some keywords in advance, like Laurie's new (unwritten) book, Jung's Red Bookold and rotting leaves, group personality - and let's not forget about Spalding Gray.

At the Shrink's

Timeiswide, major contributor of Laurie Anderson-related goodness on dimeadozen, was kind enough to allow Mnemosyne to feature a previously 'unpublished' piece here, among Files on a String: an excerpt from a previous big touring retrospective, entitled The Record of the TimeSound in the Work of Laurie Anderson. This recording was made in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2003. The story can be read in Stories from the Nerve Bible: a Twenty-Year Retrospective (page 84 - thanks, Timeiswide), it basically deals with the insolubly different perspectives every human individual has.

FYI: It's worth comparing this version with the original which was made 26 (or 28) years earlier and an excerpt of it can be found in the Catalogue of Netherlands Media Art Institute.

I in U

A preview video of Laurie Anderson's forthcoming retrospective exhibition in São Paolo, Brasil: Eu em Tu. That is: I in U.