Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson

A Life of Storytelling

Listen to the story of how Laurie Anderson became the iconic multimedia artist she is today, why she prefers to keep things simple, and how she began telling stories as a child – and never stopped: “I try to make stories that really engage my mind.”

When Anderson started out as an artist, she was aware that you don’t necessarily need impressive or expensive gear in order to succeed: “I was trying to do something on the right scale – something that you can do yourself.” She began as a painter and sculptor and started playing the instruments she made, while making little films, which she would show to a small group of artists. This enticed her to try to get her films out into a wider audience in the mid 1970s by doing “these little shows” at different venues.

“Switch ‘the’ to ‘a’ and the world changes.” Anderson argues that you begin to get a sense of the mystery of the world by a simple device such as switching articles. In continuation of this, she likes playing with language, e.g. by inventing the text software ‘Erst’, where sounds from instruments trigger language: “It’s made for the part of you that never speaks. That is always just watching and not voicing or putting things into words.” She consequently realized that she was able to use words in this way as “everyone’s so used to multitasking.” However, she hopes that we get slower – before we implode: “Slow for me is deeper.” Furthermore, Anderson doesn’t aim to make anyone feel better through storytelling, but rather to create stories that engage her mind: “Secretly, I do think that stories can cure you … but you have to find out what’s wrong first.”

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

  • Peter Land

    Man Falling

    Meet an artist who uncompromisingly uses himself in his art. Inspired by his own fears and anxieties Peter Land makes disturbingly humorous work, but it was moral qualms that were behind his groundbreaking video of himself dancing naked.

  • Mika Rottenberg

    Girl Power From Another Century

    Meet the truly original video artist Mika Rottenberg! Here she shares the fascinating story behind her take on Orwell's 'Animal Farm' – a work in which a group of women with extremely long hair turn things around – and take fate into their own hands.

  • Vigdis Hjorth

    I am not a Pretty Postcard

    “Writing is the relationship between head, gut and hand.” Vigdis Hjorth is considered one of the strongest voices in contemporary Norwegian literature. She here shares why it is essential for her well-being to be able to express herself in writing.

  • Yona Friedman

    Architecture of Trial and Error

    “Don't forget that very important cities today started by immigration.” Meet the 94-year-old architect behind 'L’Architecture Mobile', Yona Friedman. He here shares the story of how his years as a refugee sparked his desire to make architecture adaptable.

  • Nástio Mosquito

    'Mama Africa' is a Construct

    In this short interview Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito discusses his provocative video work, in which he through three blazing speeches addresses the legacy of the western logic of ownership and debt, not least regarding a construct like ‘Africa’.

  • Nástio Mosquito

    What are You Willing to Die for?

    Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito has been dubbed “the future star of the art world.” He here talks about his invigorating multidisciplinary practice, which investigates universally human characteristics in a teasing, polemic and humorous way.

  • Marina Abramović

    Electricity Passing Through

    For more than 50 years trailblazing performance artist Marina Abramović has used her own body and energy as her main artistic material. In this powerful interview, the artist looks back on her radical practice: “It was like the first woman walking on the moon.”

  • The Story of Marina Abramović & Ulay

    Legendary couple in performance art – Marina Abramović and Ulay – lived together for 12 years and made pioneering work as a duo. In this extraordinary double interview the artists look back on their relationship – from their first meeting in 1975 until now.

  • 11 Artists

    on Photography

    “We are so oversaturated with images, so it’s about one question: Can I hold you - can I get you to look at an image for longer than a second?” Watch Catherine Opie, Wim Wenders, Jeff Wall and 8 other artists on the power and potential of photography.

  • Julie Nord

    The Power of Drawing

    “It’s the closest you get to silence – or skin. There’s so little between me as an artist and my material.” Artist Julie Nord here shares her attraction to the "no bullshit" of drawing. Visit her studio and take a peek at how she makes her surreal, fairy tale-like drawings.

  • Nina Saunders

    A Cultural Warrior

    Meet artist Nina Saunders who plays with the familiar by twisting it in surprising ways. She here discusses her humorous yet disturbing work – made from discarded upholstered furniture and stuffed animals – which comments on our world.

  • Erica Jong

    Sexuality and Creativity

    “The urge to create and the urge to copulate are very close.” Watch the iconic feminist writer Erica Jong speak candidly of being fuelled creatively by desire, her experiences as a female writer and what she has come to realize about men.