Sunday, October 4, 2015


Laurie Anderson in 2014.

Laurie Anderson's latest performance/media art piece is typically Manhattan and typically glossy. "Habeas Corpus" presents the holographic  broadcast image of a released Guantanamo terrorist suspect, whom I shall not name in imitation of the Oregon officials who do not want to inflate the image of a mass murderer. The outstanding provenance of this man is his dubious distinction of being the youngest Guantanamo detainee, imprisoned there from ages 14-22.

In an age of religious extremism, religious war, mass migration and deteriorating human ecology, Anderson's idea has to be seen as a vain attempt to shift focus on this one individual among the 7 billion of us. Why this choice? It seems to me that Anderson subscribes to the current 'we are all victims' ideology which fuels the contemporary cult of equivocation as resistance to hard reasoning and realistic assessment of the human condition.

The simple fact is that Laurie Anderson is as much part of the cult of celebrity as anyone. Like most performers, she seeks relevance to gain attention. But her purpose is indeed attention for Laurie Anderson. Using this controversial subject, an accused terrorist, is great fodder for that attention in post-911 Manhattan, where the international elite play at being enlightened at the expense of the millions each of them exploits through corporate capitalism.

Focus on the individual, the anecdotal perhaps, is no way out of the current environmental and ethical crisis of our age. Yes, it may be one way of understanding the issues more deeply, but not to the tune of millions of dollars wasted on lighting and special effects in Manhattan. I find this latest venture of Laurie Anderson very disappointing. She has slipped from cutting edge to vain exhibitionism.

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