Laurie Anderson will conduct a performance in the Museo Reina Sofía to tie in with the publication of her latest book, All the Things I Lost in the Flood (Rizzoli, 2018), a survey of a career spanning more than forty years. She will explore themes such as loss, memory and narration, transforming and blending poetry, language and new technology, sound experimentation and observations on sculptures, operas and multimedia installations to articulate a hybrid space, where the limits of testimony, fiction and feeling become blurred. This one-off performance lecture by Anderson, the only one of its kind in Spain, includes multimedia screenings, interventions on code, voice and digital language, and reflections on past works – from operas to installations — and is based on this latest volume, which comprises every performance by the artist, in addition to some of her essays on language and narration.
The activity is framed inside the Museo Reina Sofía’s recent exploration of the correlations between live arts and visual arts, with this search giving rise to interventions in the Museo by pivotal musicians, choreographers and dancers in this these relationships — Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Joan La Barbara, Steve Paxton and Simone Forti — and to the display of the part of the Collection angled towards these reciprocal influences and effects. Thus, different rooms will bear witness to the way in which the body and time have been brought into contemporary art through dance, music and sound since 1960.
The performance by Laurie Anderson, one of the foremost artists of our time, constitutes another landmark in the Museo’s exploration. Her work stands at the advent of sound experimentation with language and multimedia performance, in the common space between experimental music and contemporary art, through two main ideas: the first, that all experience is mediated by technology and thus produced artificially — Anderson is a pioneer in the consideration of how society is dominated by virtual reality, where reality itself is merely another element. The second, that all artistic practice is a form of narration. Her work, which straddles music, performance, the visual arts and film, takes these mediums and experiments with story-telling, using language to create meaning. It advances and develops an interest in experimental fiction as a way of producing other presents.
Laurie Anderson (Glen Ellyn, Illinois, 1947) has explored performance, electronic music, the visual arts and film equally. She has released ten albums, among them Big Science (1982), Mister Heartbreak (1984), Home of the Brave (1986), a soundtrack to the film of the same name, Life On A String (2001) and Homeland (2010). O Superman, a minimal track with a vocal spoken through a vocoder, marked the start of post-modern culture, according to art critic Craig Owens, and reached number two in the British pop charts. She has also composed the music to films by Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme, choreographic works by Trisha Brown, Bill T. Jones and Molissa Fenley, and Far Side of the Moon, Robert Lepage’s stage production.
Anderson has toured internationally with spoken word and complex multimedia performances such as United States I-V (1983), Empty Places (1990), The Nerve Bible (1995) and Songs and Stories from Moby Dick (1999), based on Herman Melville’s novel. Her visual work has been the subject of solo and collective exhibitions in major European and American museums, and as a film-maker her productions include Home of the Brave (1984) and Heart of a Dog (2005), as well as a broad array of videos.
Moreover, she has received different awards and honours, for instance the Pratt Institute’s Legends Award in 2011, the Dorothy and Lilian Gish Prize for her contribution to the arts (2007), the Deutsche Schallplatten Award for the album Life On A String (2001) and numerous other distinctions from the National Endowment of Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2002 she became NASA’s first artist in residence for her tireless technology research.