Last week, I stopped by the Fabric Workshop to check out Laurie Anderson’s multi-media installation, Forty Nine Days at the Bardo. Spread over two floors and dedicated/influenced by the recent death of her dog, Lolabelle, it’s an intense tribute and discussion on loss as well as the deep spiritual connection between pets and their owners. Consisting mainly of a series of 10’x14′ foot charcoal drawings detailing Lolabelle’s time in the Bardo (a forty-nine day period between death and rebirth, as mentioned in the Tibetan Book of the Dead), the scale of the work quickly engulfs the viewer, bringing you into this nether world of lucid dreams, bizarre illusions, touching realizations and ultimately, rebirth. The installation also features a sculpture of a violin, created from layers of mud, clay and the ashes of her dog. Now, I’m more of a cat person myslef but I did hear stories from the staff of more than a few dog lovers leaving the exhibit in tears, which speaks volumes more on the success of this installation than anything I could write.
I was most impressed by her Iron Mountain floor – an erily darkened space with a sparse collection of tiny clay figures, brought to life by video projections of people working, running and talking on them. They’re almost like holograms, and in the stillness of the room you get the feeling like you’re inside someone’s brain, browsing through a collection of their personal and intimate memories. Worth seeing in person for sure, as obviously a photograph or video won’t do something like this justice.
So don’t sleep on this one – the exhibit runs until November 19th at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia.
Laurie Anderson Forty-Nine Days in the Bardo at the Fabric Workshop and Museum from Canal Street Communications on Vimeo.