Constructing Community: The Performance Art of Laurie Anderson

Chava Krivchenia

Abstract


The contemporary artist Laurie Anderson is a Renaissance woman who has taught, written monologues, recorded albums, produced movies, and travelled around the world playing electronic concerts as well as self-produced narrative performance art and orchestral pieces. Anderson has been  active since the 1960s, drawing inspiration from sources as varied as Moby Dick, John Cage, her Christian upbringing and her current Buddhist practice. This paper will discuss the evolution of Laurie Anderson’s work, influences, collaborators, predecessors, and will explain the significance of the interconnected web of human relation that her creations inhabit and permeate. Her performances such as United States, Letters to Jack, Home of the Brave, and Duets on Ice focus on personal stories that illuminate binaries of the shared and internal human experience. Bridging the gap between mainstream and avant-garde Anderson is able to address and reinforce the significance of community and human relation. Community is defined as two or more people who feel a sense of fellowship with one another, not necessarily caused by geographical, ethical, or political affiliation (although these elements do play a part.) Laurie Anderson’s ability to concisely express complex emotions that make-up the chemistry of community and relationship is a result of balancing and fluidly integrating all of the forces in her performances during the editing process, and prioritizing the power and spirituality of fellowship.  The paper analyzes the purpose of her work through scholarly sources, first-hand live and recorded observations of performances, and archival documentation. Anderson focuses on communication, multi- sensory stimulation and education in order to connect with people from all backgrounds in a genuine manner.


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