Strongly recommend the current exhibition at the Barbican, Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s. As always the Barbican programme is consistent and I felt very enthusiastic about Laurie Anderson’s work.
With high rates of unemployment and crime and a sharp decrease in municipal services, the city was facing an economic crisis and the downtown artists responded by playing a role in transforming their own community. Guide from the Barbican
The exhibition, curated by Lydia Yee, brings together around 160 works by Anderson, Brown and Matta-Clark, many rarely seen, with some presented for the first time outside New York. Featuring sculptures, drawings, photographs, films, live performances and mixed media works, as well as posters, documentation and other ephemera, the exhibition focuses on the intersections between their practices and explores their mutual concerns — performance, the urban environment and an emphasis on process and experimentation. Barbican Website
The electric Chair (1977/78), the Headphone table (1978) and the At the shrink’s (1977) are amazing examples of Anderson’s investigations into sound. The first is a large size installation that moves and creates sounds.An electric keyboard is pressed in the same keys, and two kitchen like light bulbs are programmed to turn on and off, creating a melody with that familiar sound. A chair is dragged through out the platform and the sound is recorded and projected on to us. The headphone table is a simples smart way of making sound go through the body through vibration. At the shrink’s is a small fake hologram projected onto a small sculpture. Again, a simple smart way to explore the medium.
I enjoyed going through the different rooms watching how Anderson explored different mediums and that evolved. I had a similar feeling as when I left the Nam June Paik exhibition, that was the feeling of having seen someone’s lifetime work, and their personality in the way they dealt and explored new technologies and in the way that they expanded their area of intervention to an overall creativeness.