UMS Staff Picks: Laurie Anderson’s Delusion selected by Jim Leija, Public Relations Manager
By Stephanie NormannTweet
SN: Laurie Anderson’s daring and thought-provoking use of technology in her pieces has earned her worldwide recognition – just what kind of an artist is she and how can audience members expect to see her multi-media approach come to life in Delusion?
JL: As a student and practitioner of performance art, I’ve studied and admired the legendary Laurie Anderson for a long time. Anderson is an artistic pioneer, blending visual imagery, text, and electronic music (even inventing several unique electronic instruments) to create theatrical events that twist our perception of reality. A lot of her text reminds me of that of the late monologist Spalding Gray (who was a collaborator of Anderson’s): slightly offbeat and neurotic, strangely funny, and astutely observant. When you’re watching Laurie Anderson perform, you almost feel like you’re in a dream – quirky, bizarre, trancelike, too real, or not real enough. Anderson has an incredible talent for taking bits and pieces of our hyper-commercial, hyper-politicized society and spinning them into moments of hyper-realistic cyber-techno poetry that challenge authority, bend reality, and demand that we see the world differently. Audiences can expect to be surprised and challenged by the way Anderson transforms herself through what she’s called “audio drag”: sometimes she’s the cool, calm, collected self-help guru, sometimes she’s the evil robot of our worst sci-fi futuristic nightmares, and other times she’s a domineering patriarch. Never one to mince words, Anderson has recently explored highly charged issues like homelessness, terrorism, the war in Iraq, the collapse of Wall Street, and the oil spill in the gulf. I am most excited by contemporary artists like Anderson who are willing to tackle tough issues in ways that might leave audiences feeling a little uncomfortable and a little uncertain about how they should respond. I like to feel challenged by performance and to be shaken out of everyday complacency. I expect that in Delusion we’ll experience many of the Laurie Anderson “ingredients” that I’ve mentioned, and we’ll be transported into Anderson’s unusual, but compelling universe.
SN: Have you seen a performance by Laurie Anderson before?
JL: I’ve actually never seen Laurie Anderson perform live! I’ve only experienced her work through video and audio recordings. I’m looking forward to finally seeing her perform in-the-flesh after admiring and studying her work for so long.
SN: What other events are on your “must see” list for the 10/11 season?
JL: When I was working on my MFA in Art & Design, I experimented with sound installation and the ways in which an artist can use sound to change how people experience a particular place. I’m looking forward to Susurrus to see how David Leddy uses sound and narrative to recreate the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in a new and exciting way. I just have a feeling that Susurrus is going to be really magical.
Carolina Chocolate Drops is an absolute must. I saw the group when they first played at The Ark three years ago, and I still think back to that concert as one of the best I’ve seen in recent years. The CCD is so masterful at blending amazing bluegrass musicianship with educational tidbits about Black string music. I learned a lot, and I slapped my knee to the beat a lot, and I plan to do the same when they take the stage at the Michigan Theater.
SN: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
JL: For me, the summer is all about vegetable gardening, going to the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, and cooking up a storm. I grow everything from tomatoes to eggplant to kale and herbs in my backyard garden, and my partner and I get a farm share from Tantre Farm in Chelsea. We love to see just how “local” we can be, especially during the summer months when so much amazing, fresh food is available in Ann Arbor.
SN: What have you been listening to on your iPod?
JL: The performance artist in me is listening to a lot of Lady Gaga. The chef in me is catching up on Splendid Table podcasts. The hipster in me is jamming to OK Go (can you believe that video with the Rube Goldberg machine?!).
Have you seen a live performance by Laurie Anderson before? We’d love to hear about your favorite performance artist!