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Laurie Anderson at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

The first large-scale exhibition in Ireland by the celebrated American performance artist, musician, visual artist, poet and writer Laurie Anderson opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Thursday 17 February. 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 Anderson’s 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 will be opened by the composer and pianist Kevin Volans at 6.00pm on Wednesday 16 February, when Anderson will perform 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 Anderson’s work, as despite the multifaceted nature of her art and her use of sophisticated technology, she sees herself as essentially a storyteller. She says: “A 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 I’ve done with sound; there are several threads: the violin, the voice, words, sonic spaces and alter egos”. It is Anderson’s 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 Table, 1977, visitors are invited to perceive sound through the bones in their arms, reflecting the artist’s 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 Anderson’s 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 Anderson’s work. In At the Shrink’s, 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 character’s experience while seeing the psychiatrist.   Some years later, while working on a filter to lower her voice to the register of a man’s, Anderson was prompted by the thought of what this “man” 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 Anderson’s 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.

Laurie Anderson: The Record of the Time is curated by Thierry Raspail, Director, and Isabelle Bertolotti, exhibition Curator, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, and has been shown at the Museum Kunst-Palast, Dûsseldorf, and at PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan. The exhibition at IMMA has been organised by Karen Sweeney, Acting Curator: Exhibitions, at the Museum.

Artist’s Talk

On Thursday 17 February at 4.00pm, in the Baroque Chapel at IMMA, Laurie Anderson will discuss her practice, focussing particularly on her most recent projects. Admission is free, but booking is essential on Tel: +353 1 612 9900 or the automatic booking line +353 1 612 9948; Email: simona.lecce@imma.ie.


A fully-illustrated catalogue, with essays by Thierry Raspail and Laurie Anderson, accompanies the exhibition.


The exhibition continues until 2 May 2005.


Admission is free.


Opening hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10.00am-5.30pm
                           Sundays & Bank Holidays 12 noon- 5.30pm
                           Closed  Monday and 25 March 

For further information and images please contact Patrice Molloy or Daniela Sabatini at Tel: +353 1 612 9900: Email: press@imma.ie 


26 January 2005                                                                    

Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland
Tel: +353-1-6129900, Email:
info@imma.ie