Feb 28, 2011

Laurie Anderson at ICA (London), 1990

"[...] thrills for me are discovering something while I'm working or talking to someone or suddenly realizing "oh I could see that upside down for a second" or you just suddenly get a totally different point of view of a very familiar situation. To me that's a kind of key of... if it's already familiar but I can look at it as if it's not at all."
(Laurie Anderson, 1990)

Listen to a gorgeous conversation between Laurie Anderson and Sarah Kent at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, UK. According to the British Library's archive, the recording was made back in November 1990, cca. a year after the release of 'Strange Angels' album, and towards the last month of the 'Empty Places' Tour which was running almost during the whole year in 1990. Consequently, it's no surprise that among the topics were the current tour and the album; Wim Wenders; learning to sing; having a lot of different voices; speed and avant-garde; senator Jesse Helms and 'Coolsville' - plus many many more. There's a particularly amusing part about Ken Nordine around 38 minutes into the record; Laurie did a hilarious imitation of his manner of speaking.

Feb 27, 2011

Filling the Garden with a Single Melody

The Singing Trees project in Basel, Switzerland is not going to be Laurie Anderson's first garden sound installation - in 2002, she filled the World Financial Center Winter Garden with an enormous sound cloud created by her violin/viola.

Read about the details of the project Sonic Garden website or listen to Laurie's introduction and an excerpt of the lovely melody directly by clicking to the following URL:

Metrópolis, 1986

"While I criticize technology I use several thousand Watts of power to say that."
(Laurie Anderson, 1986)

Caution: the following videos are recommended only for those who are inclined to bear overdubbing on the original (English) sound.

TVE's (Spanish national tv) cultural magazine Metrópolis has made this interview with Laurie Anderson around the time of the 'Home of the Brave' Tour. I originally found the video in the online archive of TVE but soon it proved to be simply crap - halfway into the video, vision and sound slip out of sync which gets really serious / annoying towards the end (cca. 15-20 secs). So I decided to synchronize the sound bit-by-bit back to the video. Sadly, the overall quality of the original video was quite poor (for example, at some points you can hear an opera aria seeping into the left channel, etc.), plus, I had to create a different sound intro as well. Now the result is on YouTube; you decide about its enjoyability.

In the interview Laurie discussed topics like American pop culture; being a social critic; Laurie's love-hate relationship with technology; the wide range of one-of-a-kind instruments used during the 'Home of the Brave' Tour (including, among others, the keyboard tie and the drum suit) and many more. She was also talking about the imagery of 'Blue Lagoon' and the Spanish lyrics of 'Smoke Rings'.

Feb 26, 2011

Hablar... Gone... Awry

"I looked out and every single person had gone..."
(Laurie Anderson on her worst concert experience)

... the quote above is taken from Laurie's adventure with Spanish language from the time when she was trying to get rid of one of her bad habits. Read the rest of the story at WorstGig, music journalist Jon Niccum's interview series on artists' worst concert experiences.

Laurie Anderson 101 - the Audio Edition

Two hours of Laurie Anderson's music - from two recent audio portraits from Europe:

1. First, a podcast from Spain, presented by Alex Kocic / UEMCOM Radio.

  • Transitory Life
  • Born, Never Asked
  • White Lily
  • Coolsville
  • Hiawatha
  • World Without End
  • Speak My Language
  • Washington Street
  • Beginning French
  • Strange Perfumes
  • O Superman
  • Bright Red
  • Only an Expert

2. The other one comes from Stockholm: Laurie Anderson's musical portrait as part three of Sveriges Radio P4's 'Poets, Dreamers and Visionaries' series. Along with Carin Kjellman's introduction (in beautiful melodic Swedish, of course):

  • O Superman
  • The Ouija Board
  • Love Among the Sailors
  • From the Air
  • Cartoon Song (from United States Live)
  • Baby Doll
  • Thinking of You
  • Big Science
  • Rotowhirl
  • My Eyes
  • The Dream Before
  • In Our Sleep
  • Strange Angels
  • The Beginning of Memory
  • The Lake
  • Flow

Detroit vs. Laurie

Reviews of Laurie Anderson's recent lecture at the Detroit Institute of Arts - one from each side:

Feb 25, 2011

The (Late) Night America Got Its Insanity Fix

A woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a wo... whatevs. Laurie Anderson is the master of confusion. Performing as her male alter-ego Fenway Bergamot on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night (February 24, 2011), (s)he stirred a tidal wave of WTF among the viewers of the show which, for a few hours, sent the term "Laurie Anderson" among America's top trending topics on Twitter.

Super wicked creepy awesomeness - or just 'Another Day in America':

If you are interested what people thought about Fenway Bergamot, check these out:

  • Prefixmag's review of the performance
  • Tweets posted during and after the performance, collected by Mnemosyne (some seriously hilarious genuine reactions - explicit language!)

Feb 19, 2011

"Deals with the Spiritual Issues of Our Time"

"I don't actually believe in angels but I do believe that we are them."
(Laurie Anderson at Columbia University, 2011)

Listen to how Laurie Anderson navigated her way through the sometimes elusive / dim / intangible subjects of spirituality, faith and religion in a public conversation held at Columbia University on February 10, 2011 - thanks to the CU Institute for Religion, Culture & Public Life website, the conversation can be downloaded as a podcast:

It's almost impossible (and unnecessary) to list all the topics touched upon - just to name a few: Melville and the Biblical symbolism of Moby Dick; silence, pain and meditation; being a spy as an artist, Laurie's pentecostal missionary grandmother, Capitalist Realism, making freeform fiction out of Egyptian architecture; John Cage, NASA's poetic projects, pressure of technology; pitch and prayer; How to Be Idle, the School of Life, what is an artist, etc. etc. etc.

You can find a bunch of great reviews of the conversation on ircpl.org by Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti, Courtney Bender, Shelly Silver, María Cristina Fernández Hall, Kali Handelman and Nora Griffin.

Twitter's archive has also got a series of enthusiastic tweets from the event by keith_wilson and saletteg. :)

(FYI: all URLs open in a new window)

Feb 14, 2011

Art Comes from Anger, Art Comes from Love

Q: What is the obligation of art?

A: I don’t think it has one. I think it has to be anarchistic. [...] I don’t think anarchy needs to be angry. In fact, I think tender anarchy is a great goal. It is what makes things a little different from the clamor of cultural products being hyped and bought and sold.

Read Don't Panic Magazine's interview in which Laurie Anderson tells about the romanticism of being an artist in New York in the Seventies, and the difference between that era and consumerism, today's major art form.

Laurie at the Grammies

Laurie Anderson presenting the classical Grammies at the 53rd annual Pre-Grammy Awards Gala - introduction by Esperanza Spaulding - recorded from YouTube live video stream - all acceptance speeches got heartlessly cut off, sorry:

Feb 13, 2011

Oh well.

No Grammy for 'Flow' - too bad / so what / their loss (pick your favourite).

However, the awesomeness factor of the Pre-Grammy telecast (via YouTube) ran up high the moment the fourth presenter graced the stage

Laurie Anderson presenting classical Grammies
February 2011

wearing a pair of red socks and high-heeled killer red slippers - how cool is that!

Laurie Anderson
low profile, kicking a$$

- and gracefully doing her slightly awkward job of accepting all those classical music Grammies on behalf of the podium.

on behalf of the podium

Feb 12, 2011

Жыве Беларусъ!

Лори Андерсон's appeal for freedom of imprisoned Belarusian activist Aleksandr Atroshchankau - in January 2011, Laurie was also part of a benefit performance in support for Belarus Free Theater.

Feb 8, 2011

OO...... oO.. oo..... ooO ....o

Laurie Anderson playing... about the fish? Or just making them Delusional?

Feb 7, 2011

"What War Was That?"

"There were those who knew only the sound of their own voices.
There were those who knew the rules.
There were those who freed their bodies.
There were those who couldn't take it.
There were others on their own.
Who was it?
Who was it?"
(excerpt from Laurie Anderson's contribution to
Colin Stetson's new album)

LA: "He's a colossal player. [...] He's a really amazing player."

LR: "He is really astonishing - but honestly - how he can play for more than twenty minutes..."

LA: "... Without dying, yeah..."

LR: "... Without being killed. I mean, the horn is bigger than he is. And he's doing circular breathing."

(Laurie Anderson's and Lou Reed's appreciative words on Colin Stetson
- as heard on the radio)

Feb 5, 2011

More on Krems, Austria

"[...] I was asked by an art museum in Austria to do an installation project. The museum was in this really little town called Krems, about an hour from Vienna. And so I went to check it out. Krems is this sort of a perfect little Austrian town on the Danube filled with medieval churches and these elegant onion-domed towers and spires. The Kunsthalle there is connected to a twelfth century church where they do a lot of their larger exhibitions now. This building was a church for about six hundred years and since then it's been used for like a variety of different things like a kind of a flop house for pilgrims and indigents, and then a convent and then it was an all purpose kind of cultural institution - it's this huge structure and very resonant acoustics with really really long delays. The museum wanted me to design something, some sort of sound installation, whatever I wanted, especially for this particular space with its resonance.

At first I was trying to figure out how to get the church to talk, to make something about language, about language that was going up... [...]

Every day I would walk around this little town, and the weird thing about this place was that right in the middle of town there was this huge maximum security prison - tall gray walls and these enormous guard towers... And it was really strange because mostly prisons are built out on heaths or in some uninhabited wild faraway area. So, I'm looking around the town and thinking about what to do and I climbed to the top of the belltower of this church to try to get a better view of the way the town was laid out, just a bigger picture. I was up there in the belfry and I suddenly realized that I could look directly over at the guy with a machine gun in the guardtower and then directly down into the prison yard from the belltower.

So, I proposed making this thing for the church - for the cultural institution - called
Life. It would work like this: we'd make a three dimensional life-size cast of one of the prisoners and place it in the apse in this church. And then using a live video feed, the image of the prisoner would be projected from the prison to the church. So the video signal would travel in a straight line from the prison, up the guard tower, across the street to the church, down the bell tower into the apse, and finally mapping onto this three dimensional cast. So you could walk up to this three dimensional image and touch it and would be something that was kind of there and not there. (I suppose a one way system from that point of view.)

I wrote some things for the curators about why I wanted to do this, about my interest in telepresence and how cameras are changing different attitudes towards particularly the human body - incarceration vs. incarnation - and distinguish the prison and the church. And I said I thought it would raise some interesting questions about time, icons and cameras and the function of institutions. Now of course I was also pretty nervous about this idea as well. I mean it's one thing for a priest to deliver a sermon about evil incarnate in a church and it's really another thing to actually come in as a foreigner and teleport a prisoner into the apse.

Anyway, the curators at the Kunsthalle were enthusiastic about doing the project but a couple of weeks later they discovered that Austrian law forbids the representation of the prisoner's face, so once they're in prison they're like erased and that's part - a big part - of the punishment. I decided that without the face, the projection would be pointless, I mean,
Life from the Collar down is just not that gripping. I mean, humans have (to have) eyes or, in a way, they aren't really there. So I dropped this idea. [...]"

(excerpt from a lecture given by Laurie Anderson at New School in 2005,
as heard in this video)

(FYI: this project was the predecessor of Laurie Anderson's Dal Vivo (Life) project)

Feb 3, 2011

A Second and a Third Self

Excerpts of an interview made in Lublin, Poland during the KODY Festival last year:

Feb 2, 2011

Laurie in Austria!

Laurie Anderson will perform 'Transitory Life' on the weekend of May 5th-7th, 2011 as part of Donaufestival in Krems, Austria. For the time being, only early bird tickets are available for the whole weekend. Single tickets will be on sale after the 10th of March.

Feb 1, 2011

Happy to Be Geeking out

"I don't mind being a little off."
(Laurie Anderson)

Mainstream culture and social identity, audio drag and "the physical way", plus a bucket list - this is Laurie Anderson's random two (three, four...) cents to OUT Magazine.

Eerie Purple Clouds Moving around the Notes

At last - part three of Deirdre Mulrooney's Skype interview has arrived: "On 2011 projects, Lolobelle, and Inter-species Communication" (plus Laurie's violin, the evolution of 'Delusion'; Leonard Cohen and walking on the spine of a dinosaur).

Looks like a prolific year Laurie is looking forward to - just a couple of tags in advance: a new book! Short songs on violin! 3D movie installations! Interpreting the way fish move via violin playing for blind people! Walking in Ireland!

(Vulgo.ie has also put the transcript of the interview online oh, they removed it.)