I often don’t understand. I recently had this experience again at DC’s Hirshhorn Museum https://hirshhorn.si.edu/about-us/ when we visited the huge Laurie Anderson exhibit, https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/laurie-anderson-the-weather/ that will be displayed until July 31, 2022.
The museum describes Anderson as a “groundbreaking multimedia artist, performer, musician, and writer.” While I’m not qualified to judge, the description seems accurate. She’s going to be performing live at the museum next year, at times yet to be published, and, to my surprise, I think I want to see her. This woman has designed new musical instruments! Hirshhorn describes her thus:
As a Grammy Award-winning musician, performer, writer, and artist, Anderson has an international reputation as an artist who combines the traditions of the avant-garde with popular culture. Anderson’s theatrical works combine a variety of media, including performance, music, poetry, sculpture, opera, anthropological investigations, and linguistic games, to elicit emotional reactions. As a visual artist, Anderson has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum, SoHo, and extensively in Europe, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. She has also released seven albums for Warner Brothers, including Big Science, featuring the song “O Superman,” which rose to No. 2 on the British pop charts. She is currently Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University.
Her particular style/mode of artistic expression is not one to which I have been drawn in the past, but the two expressions below got my attention and I am something of a convert:
These photos are but a tiny portion of the full exhibit that includes many forms of multi-media, including video of Anderson dancing with electronic devices strapped to her body that make drum sounds when slapped.
You probably should read this before visiting the exhibit, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/06/magazine/laurie-anderson.html, but visit you should. I am still thinking about what I saw. Such stimulation of a distracted mind (you know, the destruction of our democracy) must mean something important is going on. Note that when the Hirshhorn first proposed a retrospective on Anderson’s long career (74 now), she refused and proposed an all-new show.