This is the second time I have seen Laurie Anderson perform. But when I see her, I feel as though I have known her for years. The reason is that her performance ethic is rich with the material that the avant-garde has been made of since the late sixties. Her work displays the crux of all that art which was based deeply in conceptualism. How her work developed out of that began in the same manner, which was verbal, refined to as close to the non-object as possible, and concerned with life situations such that the line between art and life was murky.
The growth of her visual, literary and technological intelligence allowed her to create a complete performance. The limits are essentially set forth on the stage in a physical sense. What will happen within these limits is totally limitless until Anderson enters into the stage and makes the stage an environment-- a place that has meaning, a place which is filled with her words, her music, her directing the thrust of the experience.
The experience disallows passivity. The experience incorporates the senses whose entertainment takes them to an unpredictable metaphysical level. The audience cannot know before Anderson begins how her narrative will unfold, how it will be incorporated with the brilliant manipulation of a multiplicity of media in electronics, tape overdubbing, cameras, slide projections, light changes and the breathtaking stroking of her violin.
The performance at MASS MoCA was entitled THE END OF THE MOON. It dealt with a far-reaching spectrum of subject matter, but revivified many of Anderson’s patterns of interest, such as time, space, travel and their characteristics. And most of all, in her interest with the present tense. Her performance reflected the currency of a global emotionalism, the significance of the perspective of humans in the universe, all so eloquently described in terms of stories that are replete with a balance of seriousness and humor and thoughts that bear deep contemplation, for they arise from contemplation about life---- Anderson’s absorption of, participation in and acute observation of her own.
We go to Laurie Anderson seeking a sense of what is happening around us. This is our focus. She provides a context for us to know and understand and think about what is happening around us. Perhaps, seeking her out is seeking a means to clear ourselves of confusion and adopt new viewpoints. We need to approach her performances with open minds, no expectations, no belief systems. Because space and time are her tools with which she constructs valuable lessons about knowledge and how to apply it. For this, we have to be forever grateful, and to this, we have to expose ourselves as often as possible.
Laurie Anderson is a living breathing beacon of light.