On a trip last week to Seattle, I just north of the neighborhood where I was staying to pay a visit to the Henry Art Gallery. My destination with the gallery was James Turrell’s Light Reign, but before stopping there, I took in Collected Stories: Books by Laurie Anderson. (It’ll be there through February 3.)
“I have always loved books, reading them, buying them, turning their pages, walking down aisles full of them, carrying them, collecting them,” Anderson had written on a statement affixed to one wall. And the exhibit featured several: from stark pairings of images with minimal text to more lavishly illustrated works. As someone more familiar with Anderson’s music and live performances, this exhibit came as a kind of education, proving that her already-expansive body of work also extended into other dimensions.
There were echoes of her other work there, however — the cover of her album Homeland, for examples, or the words composed of distorted letters that punctuated the room, which had been developed for a future collaboration with Kronos Quartet. The concept of “books” included everything from what we traditionally think of when we hear the word to electronic editions (one served up on an iPad) and multimedia installations.
Despite her statement’s riff on “restless electronic words,” one element present throughout Collected Stories is Anderson’s early embrace of technology: a work for CD-ROM from 1996, for instance. Anderson’s occasionally oblique storytelling retains its power to haunt throughout numerous forms.