Performance Art: Laurie Anderson’s ‘Delusion’

photo: Rahav Segev

photo: Rahav Segev

Experimental performance artist Laurie Anderson brought her newest theatrical production Delusion to BAM, NYC this week. The piece was commissioned by the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and the Barbican Centre. Undoubtedly one of America’s most creative pioneers, Laurie takes her audience on a journey of spellbinding tales investigating the various states of dreaming.

Performance art it certainly is. Delusion was conceived as 26 short plays where Anderson explores the states beyond consciousness, different takes on sleep and where her subconscious takes her.  Starting off  playing keyboard and her trademark electronically enhanced violin she, discusses  how in her entire life her motivation was derived through the excitement of a reward. When, one day, her motivation disappears she decides to look within herself, her sleep, for motivation.

The result of this process is an introspective performance where Anderson, at times comically, takes the audience into her psyche. It is a wild ride of  jump cuts where audience members are allowed to enter the artist’s  subconscious as she lives through, for example, her mother’s death, or her appearances on talk shows.

To Laurie’s credit, her willingness to share personal feelings is inviting to the audience. The pain, exasperation, and happiness she expresses throughout the show lets the viewers feel as though it is meant to be known, and in a way puts the audience at ease. She talks the audience through her exciting states of dreaming and meditation.Delusion displays how the human spirit may triumph over difficult times by looking at oneself for guidance.

Anderson’s performance is  another milestone in her pioneering career of visual work.

“Our Lives are so messy” Laurie explains and adds: ” I’m enough of a member of average society that I think I have average delusions. I try to use some of those really as examples of almost how deluded you can be”

Naomie Ellenson

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