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"Laurie Anderson: The Record of the Time"
2005-02-17 until 2005-05-02
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Laurie Anderson: The Record of the Time, sub-titled Sound in the Work of Laurie Anderson, comprises over 80 works, including installation, audio, video and art objects. Spanning Andersonís career from the 1970s to her recent work, it sets out the different stages which led from her first creation to her latest audio piece. The exhibition was opened by the composer and pianist Kevin Volans at Wednesday 16 February, when Anderson performed a version of Duets on Ice. In this, pre-recorded violin pieces are played, continuously, through a speaker inside the violin, as the instrument is simultaneously played live. As the pre-recorded pieces have no beginning or end, a timing device is introduced in the form of a pair of skates embedded in blocks of ice, which the artist wears as she plays, signalling that in a full performance the concert would eventually end when the ice melts.
The elements of narrative and duration implicit in Duets on Ice are central to Andersonís work, as despite the multifaceted nature of her art and her use of sophisticated technology, she sees herself as essentially a storyteller. She says: ďA typical large-scale-work will include film or video, animation, digital processing, music, electronics and stories. But it is the stories that are the constant thread. The work exhibited in The Record of the Time is primarily the work Iíve done with sound; there are several threads: the violin, the voice, words, sonic spaces and alter egosĒ. It is Andersonís ability to combine modern technology, imaginative pictorial images, innovative music and trenchant narratives which has made her a leading figure in the world of multimedia art.
In one of the earliest works in the show, Handphone Telephone, 1977, visitors are invited to perceive sound through the bones in their arms, reflecting the artistís experience when she was inspired to create the work, as she rested her head on her hands while using an electric typewriter. Another audio-visual experience is presented in Tape Bow Violin, 1977, and Neon Violin, 1983, which make use of the instrument which has virtually become Andersonís second voice and which she has altered and electronically manipulated in every conceivable way. In The Parrot, 1996, we hear the voice of an electronic parrot, speaking in freeform and representing the way thoughts drift through the mind without the filters of logic or politeness.
The alter ego is also a recurring presence in Andersonís work. In At the Shrinkís, 1975/77, we see a tiny clay model representing the artist onto which a super 8mm film is projected, while a soundtrack tells of the characterís experience while seeing the psychiatrist. Some years later, while working on a filter to lower her voice to the register of a manís, Anderson was prompted by the thought of what this ďmanĒ might look like to produce - with the aid of an ADO and a moustache - a three-feet-high male clone of herself in the form of The Clone, 1986.
Laurie Andersonís debut as a performance artist dates from 1972, when she presented a concert for car horns in Rochester, Vermont. From the mid-70s she continued her work with music and sound and in 1981 had a number-one hit on the London charts with O Superman. Throughout the 1980s the artist presented more large-scale performances, working with film directors and musicians such as Brian Eno, Wim Wenders and Peter Gabriel, and in 1985 she made the acclaimed concert film Home of the Brave. In the early 1990s, her work assumed a more political side and she produced several works on the subjects of violence, conflict and censorship.