Laurie Anderson, Happiness

Review in Issue 15-2 | Summer 2003

Calling a performance Happiness says it all really. Laurie Anderson is good, pure and simple. She bore a resemblance to a very peaceful hedgehog, standing alone and brave on the huge Barbican stage surrounded not by her usual gadgetry and technological wizardry but by space, big empty space. She told us stories so full of profound philosophy my eyes were brimming throughout most of the performance.

The stories ranged from descriptions of her time spent with an Amish family, mostly sitting round a kitchen table listening to the rain, her observations culminating with a child’s trading of a kiss to his grandmother in exchange for a move to the sitting room; her experiences working in McDonald’s in her neighbourhood in New York City unnoticed by her friends and neighbours; her travels on a canoe trip with a bunch of peace junkies constricting her with rules and regulations; her experience of breaking her back and having stories about Peter Rabbit thrust upon her as a child.

She made more than passing references to the current horrors in Baghdad and the events of 9/11 in such a way that her personal pain in response became our own. It is impossible to retell the stories that Anderson tells. It is in the telling, in her own unique telling underscored with soft rhythm which creates what she is. Her power lies in her pauses, her free spirit, her Buddhism… The woman is a genius.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-2
p. 27