Vivid Sydney Festival 2010 – Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson was born June 5, 1947, in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

She graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Art History from Barnard College in 1969. In 1972 she received an M.F.A. in sculpture from Columbia University. During the mid 1970s she toured extensively, presenting her work in alternative performance spaces throughout the United States and building a dedicated following.

Laurie Anderson is one of today’s premier performance artists. Known primarily for her multimedia presentations she has cast herself in roles as varied as visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, electronics whiz, vocalist, and instrumentalist.

She is an American experimental performance artist and musician who plays violin and keyboards and sings in a variety of experimental music and art rock styles.


Click on this photo to view the opening night media video Q&A at the Sydney Opera House

As well as co-curating the Vivid Festival 2010,  Anderson ( the legendary rocker Lou Reed’s performance-artist wife ) , will play a ”greatest hits style show” at the Vivid Festival called Transitory Life.

Transitory Life is a solo retrospective performance by Laurie Anderson drawing on her life’s work. The collection of songs and stories includes pieces from Anderson’s acclaimed solo shows The Speed of Darkness, Happiness, The End of the Moon and Homeland.

In an intimate evening of voice, electronics and violin, Anderson spins offbeat adventure stories with her characteristic wit and poignancy. The evening also features her solo violin pieces, which have become increasingly complex and symphonic. It promises to be a uniquely personal and compelling opportunity to experience Anderson’s world-renowned performance work.


click on the photo to view the Fenway Bergamot video clip

To mark next month’s release of  Homeland, Anderson’s first studio album in nearly a decade, she’s releasing short clips of her butch character Fenway Bergamot each week on the NoneSuch website.


Complete with suit jacket, tie, waistcoat, drawn-on moustache and voice-altering microphone, the first ‘Bergamot’ clip shows him remembering the early days of the 2008 US financial meltdown. Here, he invokes a classic film trope to warn listeners of the impending doom, exclaiming: “There’s trouble out at the mine!”

Wednesday 2nd June @ S.O.H

Laurie Anderson is Fenway Bergamot – a Q & A session

Fenway Bergamot is Laurie Anderson’s male alter-ego. He is a historian and social commentator who has been working in the fields of film and live performance since 1979. He has been featured on numerous recordings and appeared in several of Laurie Anderson’s performances. His personal interests are social issues and Marcel Proust.

Be part of a Q&A with Fenway on Wednesday and ask away!


Throughout the 1970s, Anderson did a variety of different performance-art activities. She became widely known outside the art world in 1981 when her single “O Superman” reached number two on the UK pop charts.

Superman launched Anderson’s recording career in 1980, rising to number two on the British pop charts and subsequently appearing on Big Science, the first of her seven albums on the Warner Brothers label.

Other record releases include Mister Heartbreak, United States Live, Strange Angels, Bright Red, and the soundtrack to her feature film Home of the Brave.

In 2001, Anderson released her first record for Nonesuch Records, entitled Life on a String, which was followed by Live in New York, recorded at Town Hall in New York City in September 2001, and released in May 2002.

Anderson has toured the United States and internationally numerous times with shows ranging from simple spoken word performances to elaborate multimedia events.

Major works include United States I-V (1983), Empty Places (1990), The Nerve Bible (1995), and Songs and Stories for Moby Dick, a multimedia stage performance based on the novel by Herman Melville. Songs and Stories for Moby Dick toured internationally throughout 1999 and 2000.

In the fall of 2001, Anderson toured the United States and Europe with a band, performing music from Life on a String. She has also presented many solo works, including Happiness, which premiered in 2001 and toured internationally through Spring 2003.

Anderson has published six books. Text from Anderson’s solo performances appears in the book Extreme Exposure, edited by Jo Bonney. She has also written the entry for New York for the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Laurie Anderson’s visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe. In 2003, The Musée Art Contemporain of Lyon in France produced a touring retrospective of her work, entitled The Record of the Time: Sound in the Work of Laurie Anderson. This retrospective included installation, audio, instruments, video and art objects and spans Anderson’s career from the 1970’s to her most current works. It continued to tour internationally from 2003 to 2005. As a visual artist, Anderson is represented by the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York where her exhibition, The Waters Reglitterized, opened in September 2005.

As a composer, Anderson has contributed music to films by Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme; dance pieces by Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Molissa Fenley, and a score for Robert LePage’s theater production, Far Side of the Moon. She has created pieces for National Public Radio, The BBC, and Expo ‘92 in Seville.

In 1997 she curated the two-week Meltdown Festival at Royal Festival Hall in London. Her most recent orchestra work Songs for A.E. premiered at Carnegie Hall in February 2000 performed by the American Composers Orchestra and later toured Europe with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies.

It is difficult to write about a performance artist and portray exactly what she does. Her medium is experimentation, and it is not meant to be easily categorized. For example, in one of her most memorable of performances, Laurie Anderson stood on a block of ice, playing her violin while wearing her ice skates. When the ice melted, the performance ended. That gives you a clue…but still doesn’t cover it.

Recognized worldwide as a groundbreaking leader in the use of technology in the arts, Anderson collaborated with Interval Research Corporation, a research and development laboratory founded by Paul Allen and David Liddle, in the exploration of new creative tools, including the Talking Stick. She created the introduction sequence for the first segment of the PBS special Art 21, a series about Art in the 21st century.

Her awards include the 2001 Tenco Prize for Songwriting in San Remo, Italy and the 2001 Deutsche Schallplatten prize for Life On A String as well as grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 2002, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA out of which she developed her solo performance “The End of the Moon” which premiered in 2004 and toured internationally through 2006. Other recent projects include a commission to create a series of audio-visual installations and a high definition film,

Hidden Inside Mountains, for the World Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan and a series of programs for French radio called “Rien dans les Poches/Nothing in my Pockets”. Her score for Trisha Brown’s acclaimed piece “O Composite” premiered at the Opera Garnier in Paris in December 2004. Anderson was also part of the team that created the opening ceremony for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Currently she is working on a series of documented walks, a new album for Nonesuch Records, “Homeland”, and an accompanying touring performance.

Laurie Anderson’s latest extravaganza at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The End of the Moon, was the result of her year as NASA’s first artist-in-residence. Nothing this post-punk counterculture sibyl has dreamed up has been more whimsically lyrical, friendly, or wise. We’re still pondering her observations on the nesting habits of gay penguins.

No wonder NASA chose Laurie Anderson as its first artist-in-residence. An intrepid multimedia pioneer long obsessed with our ever-changing romance with technology and how we think about ourselves in relation to the rest of the planet, Anderson weaves stories, music, songs, and words into epic portraits of American culture. The End of the Moon, the second in a series of intentionally low-tech solo works featuring her remarkable music for violin and electronics, marks Anderson’s fifth BAM production. A decidedly more contemplative sister to her first solo effort, the extraordinary, sharply observed Happiness, The End of the Moon turns to the incisive power of words to convey how we feel about ourselves at this complex juncture. Drawing from her NASA-inspired travels and research, impression-packed journals, dreams, and theories, Anderson takes us on a music-theater journey that examines, among many other compelling themes, 21st-century perceptions of beauty and time, and the stories we exchange to help us along the way



Called “America’s multi-mediatrix” by Wired magazine and a “modern renaissance artist and agent provocateur” by Philadelphia Daily News, Laurie Anderson (born 1947 in Chicago, Illinois) is—in her work as a performance artist as well as musician, poet, writer, and visual artist—one of the most important artists of the later 20th century.


“And there was a beautiful view / But nobody could see.  / Cause everybody on the island / Was saying: Look at me! Look at me! ….  Laurie Anderson…. Language Is A Virus

Laurie Anderson was awarded the 2007 Gish Prize for her “outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”

Anderson lives in New York City.

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