NOTE: The above video montage was not filmed at EMPAC, but rather at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last month. A different performance, but the same show.
“I want to tell you a story about a story.” So began Laurie Anderson’s one-woman performance of “Delusion” at EMPAC at RPI in Troy last week.
And the truth is that no matter how much cutting-edge, multimedia technology she incorporates in her shows, Anderson is at heart very much a storyteller. A 21st century storyteller, of course.
Anderson’s stories, however, rarely provide answers. Instead, they pose thought-provoking questions. Quoting hometown author Herman Melville, she asked, “What is a man if he outlives the lifetime of his God?”
But Anderson also had plenty of her own questions to ponder:
“How do we start? How do we begin again?”
“Why did you wait so long?”
“What are days for?”
“Dear old God, who are these people?”
“Why is it always raining in my dreams?”
“Who owns the moon?”
“How does it end?”
“Which way to face?”
“Which way do we go?”
“Why are we here? What are we doing here? Why do we live?”
“What are the very last things you say in your life? What are the last things you say before your turn into dirt?”
“And I only have one more question. Did you ever really love me?”
Developed in part during residencies at EMPAC and MASS MoCA as well as other places, the captivating, 90-minute “Delusion” is Anderson’s meditation on time and aging, loneliness as the human condition and the vagaries of memory and dreams.
With the quiet confidence and expert cadence of a stand-up comic, Anderson recounts images from her dreams: appearing on a talk show to talk about a book that she hasn’t written, a penguin, squeezing into a pair of child’s overalls, the digital storage of films in living plants, a huge cheese sculpture in the shape of a flight of stairs, rowing a boat toward a submerged island, giving birth to her pet dog Lollabelle…
But Anderson weaves together the seeming non sequiturs into a unified performance that is not so much a narrative as it is a moody, atmospheric exploration of dream logic.