Apr 30, 2011

Scenes from 'Delusion'

Detail of Laurie Anderson's 'Delusion' postcard set
Photo by Darek J.

Click to the picture above for a photo gallery of the 'Delusion' postcard set: scenes from the performance selected, captioned and signed by Laurie Anderson. Photos taken and kindly provided for the blog by Darek. Thanks a lot!

Apr 29, 2011

Storytelling in the North

October 2008: while passing along the shores of Canada on board of Grigory Mikheev (an arctic research vessel), Laurie Anderson tells a story of an old Cree Indian man singing the forgotten song of his fathers':

FYI: This video is an excerpt of the documentary film titled 'Burning Ice', directed by Peter Gilbert.

The whole film is available for free at Snagfilms.


Cooking hot dogs via electrocution?

Er, sounds familiar.

The Charlie Rose Interview, 2003

"She does everything. She writes. She paints. She does photography. She sculpts. There's nothing she can't do. She is the absolute perfect person to go up there because she could come back to you and could put it in any kind of media you wanted."

(Lou Reed on Laurie Anderson's artistry-in-residence at NASA)

In May 2003 Laurie Anderson and Lolabelle joined Lou Reed at Charlie Rose's interview table (apparently to everybody's satisfaction). Their conversation rambled from 'NYC Man' (Lou Reed's then-recently released retrospective song collection), through Andy Warhol, to the aspects of the relationship between Lou and Laurie.

(FYI: This video had been hosted by Google and was 'rescued' to YouTube since Google has recently gave up video hosting.)

Current State of Mind of an Universalkünstlerin*

"Today I'm working on a short little poem that I've been thinking about, I have a drawing to finish, and I have a little projection work. This is the kind of hell my life is: doesn't one piece relate to the other one that much. I mean maybe that's great but sometimes it feels little disconnecting. On the other hand, that's just the way things are."

"Do I think art can change the world? I don't have any idea. Politicians can change politics - so can artists? I don't know. I'm a little bit pessimistic at the moment, to tell you the truth."

"The triumph of capitalism, here it is. Okay. One thing to do: get famous, get rich. That's the game. Good luck and see you later." - That's really harsh, and it's in every field in many ways. Artists are the same thing: we are encouraged to compete rather than to cooperate. And that's not a kind of world I dream of living in."

"I'm a journalist at heart. I like to try to see how things really work-- not make it up, not fantasize. That's a very hard thing to tell a story that is true. It's easy to find a good punchline. But everybody knows that most punchlines smell a little bad... they're clever, okay, but if you really try to tell a story: our lives are so messy. They don't have good punchlines, they don't have ways that they end very neatly. I think a lot of people, myself included, would like to find a way to see the world really clearly, not to somebody's punchline or somebody's story but really how do other people do it."

(Four examples of Laurie Anderson's current state of mind, mid April 2011)

Laurie Anderson @ Canal Street, April 2011
Photo by Christian Lehner

Austrian radio FM4 has recently aired Christian Lehner's interview with Laurie Anderson on the occasion of Laurie's upcoming live appearance at the Donaufestival in Krems-an-der-Donau, Austria: on the 5th of May 2011 she will perform 'Transitory Life', a retrospective collection of her past stories.

The conversation touched on subjects like New York City in the 1970s vs. 2010s, record charts, art and politics, the making process of the 'Homeland' album, the linguistics behind its title, the current state of mind of New York City, last year's concert for dogs in Sydney and the origins of 'O Superman' and 'Another Day in America'.

The Laurie Anderson Spezialstunde** was part of 'New York State of Mind', FM4's interview series "on individuals who set up the Big Apple a little crown". More info on the conversation with the Universalkünstlerin (basically the German translation of the interview) and some photos of the session can be found here.

You can listen to the whole programme in FM4's online archive until the 4th of May:

(FYI: don't worry if you missed the programme in the online archive: stay tuned for a stripped-down-and-cut-and-edited version of the interview here.)

* universal artist
** special hour

Apr 28, 2011

Mabou Mines Benefit

Speaking about recent public appearances: Laurie Anderson invited Fenway Bergamot to perform at the Mabou Mines Benefit at Paula Cooper Gallery:

FYI: This is a resized and cut version of the original video by Andy Horwitz, which can be found here.

When the Avant-garde Met Exploration

Read Galfromdownunder's review of a recent public conversation between Laurie Anderson and David Rothenberg at the Explorer's Club.

By the way, David Rothenberg is the guy who made 'Why Birds Sing' (2007), a BBC documentary that featured some enchanting and heartwarming (although, as far as I remember, mildly scientific) theories about birds' singing. Laurie was one of the interviewees, and in this excerpt she tells about her spellbinding concert experience with an owl:

Talking Stick Returned Reproduced

Ha! Looks like the U. S. Government doesn't consider Laurie's batonlike MIDI instrument as a threat to state security* anymore: [a replica of] the Talking Stick is part of I in U / Eu em tu, the retrospective exhibition of Laurie Anderson's oeuvre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

The Talking Stick in Rio
photo by Alexandra Lima

For more great photos and a description of the exhbition, click to Alexandra Lima's blog (the original Portuguese text is translated into English via Googe Translator).

* FYI: the Talking Stick, originally designed for Laurie's Moby Dick adaptation in 1998, was confiscated by the FBI during a zealous safety measure in 1999.

Apr 26, 2011

The Charlie Rose Interview, 2004

"... But the real reason I wanted to walk to Paris [from Milan] was because I was trying to think about how to be free - 'cause that's really the only thing I care about now... Learn to be free from my prejudices, my patterns, my ideas of what I think is 'good' or 'bad' - just trying to not react to them automatically, and to open my eyes and see what I'm really seeing, not just what I think I'm going to see or what I think should be seen."

"I'm trying not to have a goal, but just to think about how it feels to pay attention."
(Laurie Anderson, 2004)

As part of my Google video rescue project, I'm happy to include here my personal favourite interview with Laurie Anderson: as Charlie Rose's guest in May 2004, she talked about (among others) her Japanese garden project, the importance of freedom, her method of 'working', the walking project / audio diary that later evolved into 'Nothing in My Pockets', and she gave a short demonstration of the Pillow Speaker. Plus, at that time she was still being NASA's resident artist. Sigh.

UPDATED: The 'Click' Interview

In today's edition of BBC World Service programme 'Click', Laurie Anderson talks to Colin Grant about adopting and adapting cutting-edge technology in her art, and how she can't bear the compression of mp3. Listen to the conversation in BBC's online archive (please let me know if it gets removed from there so that I upload it to the blog) - Laurie's part starts at 11:06:

UPDATE: here you can read an extraction / loose transcript of the interview.

Apr 16, 2011

For Japan with Love: the Concert

Relief! Japan Society published their record of the performance by John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed (this time supported by a Japanese drummer) at the benefit concert for Japan:

(Hint: enjoy it in its full HD glory on YouTube.)

Apr 15, 2011

No Words Needed

'Duets on Ice' in Rio de Janeiro, March 2011: a video by Marcello Dantas and Raphael Lupo:

Apr 14, 2011

For Japan with Love: the Interview

"Our set was improvised. You never really know what's gonna happen when you improvise. But I felt like there was definitely a spirit there, that kind-of took over. I don't know if it's conscious or choice-- I don't think those are the right words-- but something definitely magical happened."

John Zorn on the trio of himelf, Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed
April 2011

In the following video by Japan Society NYC, Lou Reed, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass are discussing their musical selections for the benefit concert for Japan, plus sharing some of their fondest Japan-related memories. Watch and learn about Lou Reed's first computer calculator watch and why Laurie's Japanese s-s-sucks:

Apr 9, 2011

A Fearless Afternoon of Non-Rock*

The trio of Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed and John Zorn got together again for another freeform improvisation as part of a 12-hour-long benefit concert marathon for Japan at the Japan Society in NYC. The result is a one-of-a-kind blend of three strong identities from three different musical worlds; this time supported by a huge Japanese drum (and drummer).

"Lou Reed w/Laurie Anderson & John Zorn just slowly melted my face off & fed it back to me in hole where my face used to be!! I love it!"

(I'm afraid this randomly shot screen capture turns out to be the only visual proof of the event... the (record of the) web stream proved to be a disaster for numerous reasons, sorry.)

I needed to chop the audio into two parts since at one point the sound engineers of the web stream thought that the static white noise / guitar feedback generated by Lou's instrument was an error so they turned the volume down in the 14th minute into the concert. (Anyway, the audio files needed to be edited at several points since the webcast kept breaking - in the end I simply cut those short gaps off... a butcher's job. :( I hope it still sounds flawless though.)

* a paraphrase of Lou Reed's words on their trio before their performance at the Montréal Jazz Festival in Canada, 2010

Apr 8, 2011

In One of Those Abstract Trances :)

"My sKiRt is ShorT, mY HAir BIG,LauRie'S tIe is Hooked UP tO A SynClAvieR and The 5 Blind Boys ( of whom ThEre ARe Only 3) siNG LAAINGUIDGE, IS A VIRUS! fun to see this again."
(Joy Askew on the 'Language Is a Virus' video from 'Home of the Brave'
Facebook, 2011)

'Moby Dick' Questions and Answers

Dallas, TX, 1999: the creators and performers of 'Songs and Stories from Moby Dick' talk about the making process of the piece and provide a clinical demonstration of the Talking Stick, a huge batonlike MIDI instrument Laurie created as a support for her love letter of Melville's book:

The 'Moby Dick' crew:

Anthony Turner - Standing Man
Price Waldman - The Cook, Second Mate, Running Man
Tom Nelis - Ahab, Noah, Explorer
Miles Green - Falling Man
Skúli Sverrisson - bass, pepared bass, samples, percussion
Laurie Anderson - Pip, The Whale, narration + visual design, music and lyrics

Thank You, B.

Thanks for the story about your father's horse.

Two of many
Uppsala, April 2010

Apr 4, 2011

What about That Dress?

"Not a story my people tell."

"One of the things that people have remarked on having seen [the 'Home of the Brave' concert film] was "now what about that dress?" Well, it is a chain metal dress that weighed about 70 pounds - that I were in 'Langue d'amour' - I could hardly hoist myself up onto this platform to walk back and forth and tell the story, so I had to wear sneakers, too. Well, if I had worn heels - what you really should wear with a dress like that - I would have been pile driving the spikes into the beam and just completely destroying this thing.

The song 'Langue d'amour' is of course about a woman and a snake, so I tried to be both narrators in that song: the gloves were supposedly the head and tail of this long snake who keeps slithering around.


I felt that since this was a story about the Garden of Eden - and this was a woman's story if there ever was one, I mean she initiated this action, Adam really just kinda stood around - so I figured since she was the main person in that story, she should tell it, so that's why I departed from my usual - as they say, androgynous - look to something more appropriate to that story."

(Laurie Anderson, 'Home of the Brave' promo interview, 1986)

Apr 3, 2011

Setting the Stage for 'Delusion'

By clicking to Laurie's projection above, you can browse through Seth Litroff's photo gallery from January 2010 when Laurie Anderson visited Bergen Community College (Paramus, NJ) for rehearsing for 'Delusion' which was to be premiered some weeks later at the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.