Artist/Composer/Bad Ass: Laurie Anderson's Dallas Visit Has Been Postponed

Laurie Anderson is known best for her chart-topping song "O Superman," an avant garde phenomenon that oddly crossed-over into popular consumption in 1981. It even scored her a seven-album recording deal with Warner Brothers, back when those kinds of offers mattered.

But she's far more than a one-hit wonder. Anderson's 1983 performance piece America, an eight-hour opus of video, spoken word, violin, hand-crafted electronics and commentary as told through the bizarro world counterculture lens, is a masterwork of contemporary performance art.

Her labors in experimental composition rose from that freaky, jazzy intersection of people who made important shit in 1970s New York: John Cage, Andy Warhol, Philip Glass and other big minds were dear friends and collaborators.

She's an early adopter of technology and incorporates each new push into her work, then uses the stuff to comment on our methods of communication and interact with her audiences. Whether bending film projections, creating fake holograms, wiring mouthpieces or electrifying door jams, she merges body, conceptual, performance and multimedia arts into a fluid look at who we are and how we wound up this way.

Her book Night Life is a stunning documentation of an eight month stint of hyperactive dreaming, penned during waking fits in various hotel rooms. It's an equal parts astounding/depressing read as you realized that Anderson's most mundane vision holds more humor and beauty than anything you've ever conjured. It's dedicated to her late husband, Lou Reed.

So naturally, you'd hoped to see Laurie Anderson this March at the Kessler as part of WordSpace's visiting artist series. The show has been postponed. Wordspace has announced a new date, October 23, 2014. Set your Google Calendar for the new ticket sale date, August 23, 2014.

Hey, while you're at it, set a reminder for March 13: That's the day Wordspace releases tickets for another glorious eccentric, John Waters. You'll find tickets on Prekindle.

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The first time I visited Laurie Anderson was during her "Walk Normal" tour, celebrating of course "Home of the Brave", her live recording.  Waiting in the lobby of the Memorial Auditorium theater, I was the only person in my group who hadn't popped acid, but I did have plenty of those "paper cup tall boys", enough in fact to get righteously drunk as Anderson indeed performed beautifully.  I had a chip on my shoulder back then: who would have known I suffered from a serious emotionally-presenting but physical and hereditary illness called Bipolar?  My contingent of dosers were roaring laughter at every move the exquisite performance artist commanded the audience.  I stepped-out to buy myself more beer, ended up totally alone at the counter, bought a "Walk Normal" tee-shirt, only to stumble as a police officer, watching my own performance art routine in the mezzanine, chuckled and reminded me what the tee-shirt advised me in gold lettering on a black-as-night background: Walk Normal, Gordon Hilgers. 

The second time, however, was a much more conscious experience for me.  The only problem, of course, is that, there in the balcony of McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus, I simply was not "dressed correctly" to even bear any semblance of all the "artistes" looking down upon the Anderson performance of, well, "Strange Angels".  Unfashionably dressed "all wrong", I sat in the balcony in bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, surely an embarrassment as I walked down the stairs and made a snide remark about all the black in the audience.  Fashion resistance: That is the role of artists everywhere.  The fashionable ones, all sunshine, no night, are blips on the sonar of a yellowish submarine here in The People's Republic of Antarctica. 

"Strange Angels" was not Laurie Anderson's first foray into the popular song, yet the album remains a stunning commentary on both the first Bush administration, the Persian Gulf War to come, and of course, big Dallas artists on the crack-cocaine of performance art.  All fashion, no clothing. 

Long an admirer of Anderson, having listened to her very first recording, a quite rare vinyl recording she shares with the likes of the Beat king, William Burroughs and others, I most appreciate Anderson's admirable sense of humor: Who but Laurie Anderson would play a violin while standing on a block of ice on the streets of Manhattan? 

I know a few conceptual artists who indeed score highly in my world.  I'll never forget, for example, when 500 X had a huge show in the Eighties all about political art.  One of my best friends, a conceptual artist who was quite ornery in the Eighties, having provided art-comers a booth in front of Dallas's first "Art Walk" in which he, going by the name Vladimir, offered people a free juice bag and a photo with the artist for only a dollar.  He is still an urban guerrilla, and indeed, once he was left-out of the Great Big Political Art Show at 500 X, Mark Bartos rented a flatbed truck, made a huge ICBM out of paper mache, backed the flatbed trailer carrying the paper missile right to the steel door of the gallery and parked it, the tip of the paper missile pointing directly at the door.  His dual show a few years later with another, much shorter artist made me laugh outloud at the opening because there it was, the Shroud of Turin, Bartos version: Bartos and Manuel's painted silhouettes head-to-head, one outline of the body at least six-foot-four, the other outline of the body on the shroud perhaps five-foot-three. 

Given the way Dallas continually ignores its better artists--it's always "we hate you when you're here, but when you leave and make it big, you're the biggest Dallas hero ever!"--and poets and performers, I do not blame Anderson putting the delay on playing performance of Dallas, a city with an arts district that even includes condominiums, condos way to expensive for the actual artists. 

Yeah, man: sheer poetry, that Dallas. 


By the way, this freebee comment was typed-out by a human being, not a freaked-out sculpture garden.  Indeed, I can smell the "odor" from the Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing plant down the hill from downtown. 

Nothing like clouds of burning feathers to keep the uber-rich Silverbacks happy, is there? 


Dunno. So, in essence, Anderson sucked great big donkey balls?

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