Laurie Anderson’s Commencement Speech

Electronic musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson gave the commencement address for the School of Visual Arts 2012 commencement exercises.

It’s 30+ minutes long, but Anderson’s speech is often fascinating and provocative, like when she recontextualizes Karl Rove’s words as a manifesto for artists, when offers her take on the Maker movement, or when she looks at the role of beauty in science.

8 thoughts on “Laurie Anderson’s Commencement Speech

  1. 100 Years from now Karl Rove will still inspire artists. I do not know her political view but I believe it is a mistake for an artist to waste their energy to glorify the people they do not support or like. I do not like snakes for example so I would not have them as pets or make a song about them. If you compare a google search w.bush vs j. kerry caricatures or artists devoting their talent to one man versus the other, those artists, through their art make a man famous for 100s of years, the very man they do not like or wish history would forget them.

    Oh Superman!!!! 🙂

    1. Now all your friends who read that comment will be sending you snakes!

      Just hope they’re all plastic or rubber ones. If the snakes move, remember: “Red on yellow, kill a fellow; red on black venom lack.” (Or is it the other way around?)

      1. LOLOL!!! Yes snakes are not fun (for me). I grew up on a island with snakes on. Maybe that why I use that example… 😉

  2. The whole speech was good, and the pillow speaker bit at the end was killer. Laurie’s still got it going on.

  3. Laurie’s commentary somewhat mirrors Neil Gaiman’s similar speech. Its ever-harder and ever more important that we maintain a flexible inner core. If you become too cynical or rigid, your work will turn into mud. If you stay open-minded and take creative chances, some of them will yield the goods. The ones that do not will still aim you towards the next success. We are all the enemies of monsters like Karl Rove, because the nearest thing such people have to an inner life is seeking money and finding new ways to undermine their opponents, real or (often) trumped-up. They partially FEAR creativity because having so little themselves, they see any unknown or opposition as a threat. In short, they don’t like it because they CAN’T think of it. They have threadbare spirits. Rove exemplifies those who have sharp minds, but shoddy hearts. Oppose that kind of thinking all you can; it only paves the roads with dullness and needless damage. Every time you create ANY audio that wows SOMEone, you’re fighting the good fight for the right reason: to enrich rather than domineer. Another gold star for Laurie, amen.

    1. The same could be said of amazing artists wearing a T Shirt with the picture Che on it… He was not a big fan of Cuban artists when he was “in charge”.

  4. Laurie Anderson rules. I had the chance to hear her speak once before and she was similarly brilliant and extremely funny.

    I also got to hear Steve Jobs’ commencement address and thought it was excellent, but he never sang violin through a pillow speaker!

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