Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's a 'Delusion'

By Adam Warner

“I’ve been asleep for 20 years,” says Laurie Anderson. “What have I been doing all that time?”

Anderson, the legendary experimental artist, seeks to capture the mysterious world of dreams in her mind-bending new show, “Delusion.”

Combining such diverse subjects as ghost ships, punctuation, Icelandic elves, dead relatives, the Swiss super collider, the decline of the American empire, the mystic who started the Russian space program, and her Swedish-Irish heritage, “Delusion” takes elements from throughout Anderson’s 30-year canon.

“Almost every artist could say that dreams are their inspiration,” said Anderson. “How does that affect then, as you’re cooking up these images at night, your waking self?”

Anderson accomplishes this mighty, multi-topic task by cutting “Delusion” into 20 short plays, and forcing viewers into an ethereal show where they never knows what is real and what is illusion.

“I’m trying to make a kind of trance-like situation with images and sounds, so that your mind can float and do the kind of jump cutting that this piece requires you to do,” Anderson said.

In “Delusion,” Anderson plays everything from jazz to folk with her electronically enhanced violin, which is accompanied by Tibetan temple horns, Arabic strings, and virtuoso musicians, not to mention Anderson’s crafty animation and film sequences projected on furniture. She also alternates between her own voice and that of a male alter ego, Fenway Bergamot (naturally).

It’s more hallucinogenic than dropping acid while listening to Iron Butterfly. But of course — it’s Laurie Anderson, an artist who has worked in the visual, musical, lyrical, photographic, electronics and oral spheres for three decades. On top of this, she’s invented several instruments and released various studio albums.

Her previous works are the stuff of cult fandom — “United States: Parts I-IV,” “Empty Places,” “The Nerve Bible,” and “Songs and Stories from Moby Dick” — but few artists can claim, as Anderson can, to have been an “artist in residence” for NASA. That role culminated in her piece, “The End of the Moon,” which had a two-week run at BAM in 2005.

Weird science, indeed.

Laurie Anderson’s “Delusions” at BAM Harvey Theater [651 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100]. Sept. 21-25; Sept. 28-30; Oct. 1-2 at 7:30 pm. Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 at 3pm. $20-$60. For info, visit www.bam.org.


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