September 27, 2010 / 7:07 PM / 8 years ago

Laurie Anderson says museums losing cachet to Web

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Laurie Anderson sees a new online trend in the art world that has galleries and museums in a tailspin: the power of the Web to distribute art.

The performance artist and voice of America’s cultural fringe says websites such as YouTube are now recognized as a means to put art in front of mass audiences, challenging traditional routes such as physical museums, art galleries and theaters.

“If you want to make a movie or work of art, you don’t need to get past that just make it, put it up and there it is, in the world, just as if it were hanging on the wall at MoMA,” she told Reuters, referencing New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

Anderson, whose new show “Delusion” opened in New York City last week, recently helped judge a competition mounted by the Guggenheim museum and YouTube for creative online videos.

Cultural institutions are “now kind of panicking,” she said. “They are going to be in the situation of record companies.”

But Anderson was unsure if free distribution offered online is a positive or negative for fine arts, music or film — creative arenas she has mixed skillfully into her shows.

“Do we really need those people (institutions) to tell us what is good? I don’t know,” she said. “In some ways it’s this wilder system of good things being sorted out by the market...but it’s probably in the long run pretty hellish.”


Her new 90-minute show “Delusion,” which is playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music after appearing at Vancouver’s Winter Olympics, addresses numerous topics — from contradictory thoughts on her mother’s death to a tale of an Icelandic farmer’s dreams of a dance hall to the inadequacies of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“‘Delusion’ is the ‘yes and no’ of a lot of things, and I try and reflect some complexity” of life, said Anderson. “I try to represent the mental drift of how your mind is roving from topic to topic.”

The show is compiled of 20 stories that mix Anderson’s experimental spoken word, music and video projections. She said the idea of addressing dreams came to her when she realized on her 63rd birthday she had been asleep for roughly two decades.

“I thought, what have I been doing for 20 years?” she said. “Where my mind goes when it’s awake and where it goes when asleep are sort of similar places, I don’t make this big distinction.”

Reviews have been mixed. The New York Times said Anderson’s score brought “color and shape” to the production, which includes a segment of “raucous, thick-textured techno,” while the New York Post said it marked “the evolution of Anderson from high-tech musician to high-tech spoken-word artist.”

Meanwhile, the performance artist, who has been married to veteran rocker Lou Reed for about two years, said the pair have no new plans to record together.

Additional reporting by Edith Honan, editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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