Laurie Anderson: Whirlwind
September 19 – November 7, 1998

Curated by Claudia Gould, Director

Laurie Anderson: Whirlwind was the inaugural exhibition of Artists Space’s 25th Anniversary season, occupying both the Main Gallery and the Project Space. In 1973, Vito Acconci had selected Laurie Anderson to exhibit at Artists Space. 25 years later, the trans-disciplinary artist returned to the space with 14 works in different media, including audio and video installation, sculpture, and performance.

Anderson had been for over two decades experimenting with voice, performance, and installation, and had established herself as a pioneer in the field, not only through the crossing of disciplines, but also by pushing boundaries and thinking about new forms of engaging with the different materials. The piece that gave name to the exhibition, Whirlwind, had been completed two years prior and was comprised by a disk, 48 speakers, electronics, and a computer program. The artists stated that Whirlwind was a result of her frustration with stereo. Instead of only being able to divide between left and right, this installation permitted an up and down movement, as well as in and out. By turning the head, the listener experienced a complete change of perspective.

Another sound installation was Small Handphone Table, where the audience would sit at a table and put their elbows on it with their hands covering their ears. In that position, the visitor was able to listen to the piece transmitted by the table. Most of the works included were performance ephemera turned into sculpture—usually modified instruments, many of which reproduced prerecorded sound.

Digital Violin, 1984
Control violin linked to Synclavier computer
Designed by Max Matthews

Illustration of how Drum Suit works, 1983

Laurie Anderson performing Drum Dance (Home of the Brave, 1984)

Whirlwind, 1996
Disk, 48 speakers, electronics, computer program

Small Handphone Table, 1978
Wood, electronics, drivers, e-prom chips, photograph
To listen, roll up your sleeves and put your elbows on the contact points and your hands tightly over your ears.

Download interview with Laurie Anderson

Download exhibition press release

Exhibition billboard, entrance 38 Greene Street, 3rd floor

Laurie Anderson and Claudia Gould during installation