This is one of my favorite things that Laurie Anderson said at UC Berkeley on Saturday afternoon. She was answering a question that a member of the audience had asked. He had inquired about the kind of feedback that she received about her work; were people ever confused? Did people misread her work? --- Her answer was great. "Sometimes," she said, "people don't like it at all. They get it and they don't like it." She went on to explain that she didn't really care. That she was coming from the culture of the New York art world where: the less someone understands it the better. She mentioned that when her hit single from 1981, "O Superman," topped the charts, her peers were the opposite of impressed. Being famous was not the goal, being cheered by the masses meant that you were doing something wrong. "I'm a snob," she said.
I'm not usually a fan of snobbery but whatever her angle was really worked. It was liberating to hear that one didn't have to make art that everyone could understand. It helped that she didn't seem like a snob at all. She just seemed like someone with a lot of confidence and integrity. She was polite and respectful to everyone, even the wacko types who asked her weird personal questions (which she maneuvered artfully).
A few other favorite Laurie Andersonisms from Saturday:
- a hint for something to do when feeling blocked: set out to make the absolute worst piece of art that you can imagine. She says that this is helpful because it shows your limitations, the places that you are labeling for yourself as "off limits". (it also probably helps just to get you going. It must be easier to attempt making the worst art ever, than the best -- heck, I do it all the time without even trying!).
- she doesn't think that art has to change the world or make it a better place. She explains that it's not bad if art does this, and certainly it does from time to time. However, it shouldn't be the burden of artists to fix everything. She says that we should all be doing that.
- she doesn't like blogging. She refers to it as "mesearch" and says that she doesn't care that much about other people's personal lives.