When Laurie Anderson played Chicago in the early 80s, her solo show Americans on the Move was a giant affair whose huge video projections and amplified electronic score almost overwhelmed her. Today, in The End of the Moon, her only companions onstage are a violin and a laptop. But there's still something oracular about this performance poet and musician, now 58. Part of it is her trademark delivery, with its drawn-out vowels and sibilant consonants, part of it her big subjects--here what's true, what's beautiful, and what will become of outer space. The subject of The End of the Moon might have been an invitation to the grandiose: many of the stories come from Anderson's experience in 2003 as NASA's first artist in residence. But what makes her pieces work is the opposition between the huge and the tiny, the macrocosm and the microcosm. Her tales are loosely connected, almost random, and filled with both self-deprecating humor and sly jabs at our culture. Sometimes it seems you're listening to a witty friend over lunch, and other times overhearing the whispered proclamations of a sibyl. Her music, punctuating the stories, makes the experience more dreamlike, whether her digitized strings are winding up into seemingly uncontrollable hysteria or commenting in humorous pizzicati. Sun-Mon 11/20-11/21, 7 PM, Art Institute of Chicago, Fullerton Hall, 111 S. Michigan, 312-575-8000, $50-$65.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Daniel Colish.