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Laurie Anderson INTERVIEW’d




Laurie Anderson is a cultural archeologist, explorer of ideas, of experiences, big and small. She takes it all in, and she takes it all on—everything from asking exactly who and what is America to how to teach tricks to a dog. Laurie puts together and takes apart concepts so deftly that in her hands even the most dissonant of ideas snap together like Legos. She is a sprite of some sort, a lithe spirit, moving between forms and media, between voices—hauntingly beautiful feminine vocals that call us to her and a deeper voice of authority, commanding our attention.

The first time I met her was in Washington, D.C., in the mid-’80s, after she’d played a show at the historic and conservative DAR Constitution Hall. I was with a friend who worked with her, and after the show, a small group of us were waiting outside for Laurie. She came out into the humid D.C. night and, under the glow of the crime lights, spotted a tree just outside of Constitution Hall. She looked up at the tree and asked us all if we thought it was okay if she climbed it—she thought it would be great to climb a tree in Washington, D.C. We all watched and stood by as Laurie tried to scale the tree—but it was a kind of small scrabbly tree, the kind the city plants to make they city “greener,” the kind they have to replace every few years. So after Laurie attempted the climb and then abandoned it for fear of harming the tree, we hopped into my car, a 1980 Honda Civic wagon, and headed for the after-party. Laurie was folded up in the space between the front seat and the back seat, kind of curled into a space that was between spaces, her head pressed into the sunroof. And as we were driving, I started telling her about how, when I was younger, I’d gone to a camp that had metal bunk beds, and I was always on the lower bunk, and at night if I sat up, my hair would get caught in the metal webbing under the top bunk, and after a few days there would be a lot of long brown hair just hanging down from the metal webbing … There was a long pause, and Laurie curiously asked, in classic Laurie Anderson tone, “Exactly what kind of camp was this?”

She’s often described as a multimedia artist—I’m not sure why, perhaps because it’s nonspecific with room for autonomy or—but there really is no word or set of words for who she is and what she does. Why does artist fall short? Poet? Sculptor? Musician? Philosopher? Inventor?

[ click to continue reading at INTERVIEW ]

Posted on November 3, 2015 by Editor

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