Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson

Letter Exchange with JFK

“Dear Senator Kennedy. I really admire the way you’re running your campaign. I’m running for president of my student council, can you send me some tips?” Find out what the soon-to-be president John F. Kennedy replied to a young Laurie Anderson’s letter.

Acclaimed musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson was “just a young twerp” running for student council when she was advised by Senator Kennedy to “find out what the people want and promise it.” In this video she discusses her relationship to the late president, his politics and views on poetry and art: that poetry is the soul of the country and art is what makes us who we are. Neither before nor since, says Anderson, has an American president recognized poetry or art as the engine of society.

Anderson’s exchange with JFK became integral to her on-going multimedia work ‘The Language of the Future’, an exploration of the artist’s memories of Jack Kennedy and the American narrative. The latest chapter, entitled ’Letters to Jack’, was presented at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington on the occasion of the forthcoming 100th birthday of President Kennedy.

Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) is an internationally renowned experimental performance artist, composer, musician and film director, based in New York. Initially trained as a sculptor, Anderson became widely known outside the art world with her single ‘O Superman’, which reached number two in the UK pop charts in 1981. She is considered a pioneer of electronic music and is praised for her unique spoken word albums and multimedia art pieces. Among her most recent work is the film ‘Heart of a Dog’ (2015). For more about Anderson see: www.laurieanderson.com/

Laurie Anderson was interviewed by Christian Lund at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in May 2016.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Klaus Elmer Madsen
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

  • Jørgen Leth & Alex Da Corte

    The Perfect Monster

    Watch the celebrated Danish poet and film director, Jørgen Leth (b. 1937), and a sparkling star on the art scene, Alex Da Corte (b. 1980), talk about the latter’s shot-for-shot remake of – and homage to – Leth’s iconic film ‘The Perfect Human’.

  • Riad Sattouf

    Advice to Young Cartoonists

    Watch the acclaimed cartoonist Riad Sattouf draw while sharing his advice for colleagues: “Be careful with advice, it’s not always good. Find your own way of expressing yourself, everything is acceptable, there’s no one good way to draw or not draw.”

  • Jean-Marc Bustamante

    The Notion of Landscape

    “I think art is not very useful, it’s a question of what you feel.” Watch the acclaimed French artist and photographer Jean-Marc Bustamante, who merges photography and painting, and whose starting point is always the concept of landscape.

  • John Giorno

    A Visit to the Poet

    “Poetry never dies. You can’t kill poetry.” We called on John Giorno – one of the most influential figures in contemporary performance poetry – in his legendary home on the Bowery in New York, to talk about the innate freedom and possibilities of poetry.

  • John Giorno

    Inside William Burroughs' Bunker

    Step inside ‘The Bunker’ in New York, the windowless former apartment of legendary writer William S. Burroughs, and let yourself be guided around – from Burroughs’ typewriter to his shooting target – by its current resident, iconic poet John Giorno.

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Colson Whitehead

    I Have to Know the Destination

    “I became a writer once I realised no one liked my stuff.” Watch Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey’s favourite author, Pulitzer Prize-winning Colson Whitehead, on how rejections of his first stab at a novel made him realize that he wanted to pursue writing.

  • 11 Artists

    First Encounter with Art

    “That was the beginning of my film and photography career – my first image ended up under the Russian soldier’s boot.” Watch Jonas Mekas, Laurie Anderson, Paul Auster, Gerhard Richter and 7 other acclaimed artists on how they began their career.