The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) presents its 14th annual Eva Holtby Lecture on Contemporary Culture on Thursday, January 16, 2020 featuring avant-garde American artist Laurie Anderson. In this rare public talk and performance, Anderson will provide an intimate look at her work through her own words.

Best known for her multimedia art presentations and innovative use of technology, Anderson is a writer, director, visual artist and vocalist who has created ground-breaking works that span the worlds of art, theatre, experimental music, and science. For the Holtby Lecture, Anderson mines her 40-year career in All the Things I Lost in the Flood, which is based on the book of the same name. Her presentation will be followed by a book signing and reception.

“Laurie Anderson is an iconic, singular artist whose work is equally adept at deconstructing, disarming and delighting,” says Josh Basseches, Director & CEO, ROM. “Her practice embodies both the Eva Holtby Lecture’s purpose to provocatively push boundaries and the ROM’s transdisciplinary approach to exploring art, culture and nature.”

Royal Ontario Museum – Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery, Level 1

Doors Open: 6:30 pm, Lecture: 7:00 – 8:00 pm, Reception to follow lecture.

Lecture includes post-event reception with 1 host drink. ASL Interpretation will be provided.

The Holtby Lecture will complement Anderson’s new virtual reality experience To the Moon, an immersive art installation co-created with new-media artist Hsin-Chien Huang, running January 11 to 25, 2020. To the Moon commemorates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing (marked in 2018) and is inspired by Anderson’s experience as the first artist in residence at NASA. Tickets are limited and can be purchased separately here. To the Moon is presented in partnership with The Royal Conservatory of Music’s 21C Music Festival.

To the Moon uses images and tropes from Greek mythology, literature, science, sci-fi space movies and politics to create an imaginary and dark new moon. During the 15-minute VR experience, the viewer is shot out from Earth, walks on the surface of the moon, glides through space debris, flies through DNA skeletons and is lifted up the side and then tossed off of a lunar mountain. To the Moon is divided into scenes and allows the participant the choice of where and how to look. Scenes include:

Constellations: Featuring life forms that are becoming extinct, such as the a polar bear, and honeybee, this scene emphasizes the transitory as opposed to the fixed
DNA Museum: Viewers can fly through the skeletons of dinosaurs – made of DNA symbols – which morph into a Cadillac in a play on the history of fossil fuels
Technology Wasteland: The moon is imagined as a dystopic dumping ground for plastics and nuclear waste and viewers glide through this toxic scene with long scaly tentacles instead of arms
Stone Rose: Inspired by the rose in Le Petit Prince, is a fossil rose adrift in the universe as planets swirl around it
Snow Mountain: The viewer loses control and is swept to the top of a mountain. Inspired by the plot line of many space adventure movies, the viewer’s virtual body dramatically tumbles away into deep space.
Donkey Ride: The viewer trots along on the back of a donkey through the lunar landscape, eventually floating up and away into a universe of stars that begins to explode like fireworks

Anderson will also be part of the The Royal Conservatory’s 21C Music Festival, where she will be performing The Art of Falling, a sold-out show at Koerner Hall on Saturday, January 18.  In this concert, she will perform the Canadian premiere of solo works and collaborations with her long time musical partner, cellist Rubin Kodheli. As Anderson puts it: “The Art of Falling is an extended improvisation for viola, cello, and electronics. Hypnotic stories, politics, and dreams weave in and out of the music. My ambition with The Art of Falling is to make a piece that is one long sentence.”

21C Music Festival
Laurie Anderson: The Art of Falling, Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 8:00pm
Laurie Anderson, voice, viola & electronics, Rubin Kodheli, cello

Music on Film: Heart of a Dog  D: Laurie Anderson | 75 min | 2015 | USA

Grammy Award–winning composer and creative pioneer Laurie Anderson joins us in  person for a screening of her acclaimed 2015 documentary. Centered on the passing of Anderson’s beloved dog Lolabelle, and dedicated to Anderson’s late husband, Lou Reed, Heart of a Dog magically weaves together childhood memories, video diaries, and philosophical musings in a sweeping and heartfelt personal essay on the nature of love, loss, and the meaning of life.

Screening and Q&A of her documentary at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (506 Bloor Street West Toronto) on Sunday, January 19 as part of the continuing Music on Film series, presented by the The Royal Conservatory. Inspiring music docs from around the world come together with curated performances and special guest discussions. Anderson will participate in a post-screening discussion led by Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts at The Royal Conservatory.

About: Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most renowned and daring creative pioneers. Best known for her multimedia presentations, innovative use of technology and first-person style, she is a writer, director, visual artist and vocalist who has created groundbreaking works that span the worlds of art, theater, and experimental music.

Her recording career, launched by “O Superman” in 1981, includes many records released by Warner Records among them “Big Science” (1982), the soundtrack to her feature film “Home of the Brave”(1986) “Strange Angels” (1989) “Life on a String” (2001) “Homeland” (2008) and “Landfall” (2018) released on Nonesuch which recently won a Grammy Award in 2019 for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.

In 2002, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA which culminated in her 2004 solo performance “The End of the Moon”, the second in a series of three “story” performances along with “Happiness” (2001) and “Dirtday” (2012) all of which toured extensively internationally.

Anderson has published eight books. Her most recent release – “All The Things I Lost In The Flood” (Rizzoli) – is a series of essays about pictures, language and codes. Anderson’s films include numerous music videos and installation works as well as “Home of the Brave” 1986 (included in Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) “Carmen” (1992), the high definition “Hidden Inside Mountains” (2005) and Arte-commissioned “Heart of a Dog” (2015) which was chosen as an official selection of the 2015 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.

In 2017 Anderson joined four other artists in Mass MoCA’s Building 6 inaugurating a fifteen year rotating exhibition of work. Anderson will show pieces from her archive as well as new work. Included in the first exhibition cycle are her virtual reality collaborations with Hsin-Chien Huang “Chalkroom” and “Aloft”. “Chalkroom” has been featured in film festivals all over the world including the Venice Film Festival where it won the award for “Best VR Experience” under its Italian title “La Camera Insabbiata”. Along with their work “Aloft” and “To the Moon” it was presented at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight as “Go Where You Look!” Anderson will have a major exhibition of her work at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC in 2020 and will be working with Hsin-Chien Huang on a major new piece for the Manchester International Festival.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.