December 10, 2019

"We didn’t think about women and men. We never thought we’d make a living."

Said Laurie Anderson, talking about living as an artist in NYC in the 70s and 80s, quoted in "Margaret Atwood and Laurie Anderson talk art, age and more" (a very skimpy AP article).

Responding to Anderson's affiliation with the set of persons called "artists" and not "women," Atwood said: "I’m from Canada... there weren’t any other artists."

I'd like a full transcript of that conversation, but there's basically nothing in the AP article but those 2 quotes. So here's Laurie Anderson on Letterman in 1984:

29 comments:

Danno said...

What the hell is that video about? Had to hit the kill-switch after about 10 seconds.

Danno said...

A quick scan of the AP article tells me she was likely a NYC trustafarian, living off of her affluent mommy and daddy in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

rehajm said...

Was she the sharkey one or the yams up my grannie’s ass one?

Ann Althouse said...

She was a very important performance artist in the 80s and 90s, and in later years, she was married to Lou Reed.

stlcdr said...

I have a couple of her albums. Definitely not mainstream pop, but very enjoyable to listen to.

stlcdr said...

Oh, and the AP ‘skimpy’ articles are skimpy because they have no reporting skills, and only pack their articles when there’s dirt to throw at anyone not a liberal.

rehajm said...

So the yams one then...

Rory said...

"She was a very important performance artist in the 80s and 90s...."

Could benefit from the word "relatively."

amr said...

Anderson's vocal contributions to saxophonist Colin Stetson's album New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges are highlights of that album. Example: "A Dream of Water"

Paco Wové said...

"Could benefit from the word "relatively.""

Well,as performance artists go, I can't think of anybody else more notable. Almost broke into the mainstream for a bit in the mid-80's.

JML said...

One man’s performance art is another man’s crap.

rehajm said...

I now see the yams one was Karen Finley...

Ralph L said...

We enjoyed "Let X = X" in college c.1980. I think it was in an art magazine. It was relaxing after doing the antler dance to a jazz Rondo alla Turqua and slam dancing "Whip it Good."

Unknown said...

Anderson was great. Lots of excellent moments in Big Science, but my absoloute favorite is the lesser known song Hiawatha.

Kit Carson said...

unknown at 753a said:
Unknown said...
"Anderson was great. Lots of excellent moments in Big Science, but my absoloute favorite is the lesser known song Hiawatha."

so true. her live performance of Hiawatha just after opening hostilities of Desert Storm is one for the sages and the ages. almost impossible to find though. i heard it once on npr and (cassette)taped part of it. as far as i know i may have have one of the very few copies.

Laurie was great.

Oso Negro said...

O Superman! O Judge! Oh, Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.

Oso Negro said...

And Margaret Atwood certainly has a high opinion of herself. I guess decades of having your ass kissed will do that to a person.

Kit Carson said...

at Oso Negro... "and your military arms..."

Biff said...

I'll concede that Laurie Anderson has considerable vocal talent, but I guess I was never smart enough to appreciate her. She was very popular with some very wealthy, very artsy New Yorkers I knew in college. Thirty seconds of her are about all I can handle before I want to find something else to do. Urgently.

Paco Wové said..."Well, as performance artists go, I can't think of anybody else more notable." ...which says more about "performance art" than about Laurie Anderson, in my opinion.

mtrobertslaw said...

I'm told that sometime in the distant past art had to do with creating beauty. Maybe so. But today art is all about creativity period. And creativity is doing something or anything that nobody else has ever done. So now everybody and anybody can lay claim to being an artist.

Howard said...

According to Joseph Campbell art is about making connections with the transcendent. Beauty is one way. However many roads lead to Rome.

Kit Carson said...

Laurie Anderson had a touch of whimsy in her work. after all, life is strange. as Hunter Thompson put it: When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

I tend to agree with Oso Negro that Atwood is too full of herself: no other artists in Canada? Well, an exaggeration, but unfortunately, not completely off. She I suspect is over-rated, partly because she made it so big in the States--I think it's still true that nothing really counts more than that. In terms of writers she seems to be missing Robertson Davies, who had more of a British or old-Ontario orientation; and what about Atwood's buddy, also known in the U.S., Alice Munro?
I haven't read much of Atwood for a while, I tend to think the whole Handmaid's Tale thing is bullshit unless you are prepared to apply this lens to Africa and the Muslim world, but she does have a way with words. One line of hers was something like: it's part of the definition of a Canadian that it's easy to blend in in the States. Americans simply assume you're American unless you say otherwise, and then they probably won't care. Of course this applies much more to English Canadians than French; by the way, does Atwood know anything about French Canadians?
Her all-time greatest line was probably in testimony to a House of Commons committee, of all things. She opposed what was called Brian Mulroney's free trade with the U.S. Much of the debate, including her contribution, was bullshit. But she said something like: Canadians sometimes identify with the beaver, but we ought to avoid imitating the behaviour of the beaver in medieval iconography, which included chewing off its own testicles when in danger.

Darrell said...

I now see the yams [Yams Up My Granny's Ass] one was Karen Finley...

When you hear a Hindi pronounce the word "ashram" and don't really understand its meaning . . .

Le Stain du Poop said...

I got to "meet" her while I was doing roomservice in Albuquerque. The coolest dude though was Wayne Newton--believe it or not. He was a lot bigger than you might have expected and cool as an ice-cube.

gg6 said...

Wow, Laurie Anderson, how have I so totally forgotten her?! And seeing this youtube I am thunderstruck - she is the very original predecessor and source of the later and current St.Vincent!! Yet another example, 'there is nothing that comes from nothing'.

grimson said...

I'm only familiar with Anderson from the movies "Home of the Brave," and much more recently,
Heart of a Dog, but find her work very engaging. The latter is streaming on the Criterion Channel, for any Althousians that subscribe and are curious.

Danno said...

I have now searched her musical works on Spotify and found that she is shown as "similar" to a bunch of artists including Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and Brian Eno (Roxy Music), both of which I am familiar with from those times. I like them but her stuff seems too much for me. And it has nothing to do with sexism.

Clyde said...

Well, I'm sure that some people must have liked her music. I'm just not one of them. Bonus question: Would she have eaten the duct-taped banana off the wall like the other performance artist did the other day?