Eight Online and In-Person Public Programs February–July Will Include Artist Talks, Performances and Film Screenings

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present a selection of free public programs in conjunction with “Laurie Anderson: The Weather” (on view through July 31), the largest U.S. exhibition of artwork by groundbreaking multimedia artist, performer, musician and writer Laurie Anderson. From late February through July, the Hirshhorn will organize performances by Anderson, artist talks and film screenings to animate the range of her creative practice.

Programs will be held at the Hirshhorn, at partnering Washington, D.C., venues and online, offering opportunities for in-person and virtual viewership and expanding the museum’s global reach to bring audiences closer to Anderson’s work. This series of programs marks the Hirshhorn’s most extensive programmatic collaboration with an artist to date and will involve thought leaders and creative minds from across disciplines.

“I’m so happy to be working with the Hirshhorn and grateful to be able to expand the exhibition into music, performance and events,” Anderson said. “In many ways, my subject has always been America, and it’s been exciting to get a chance to present my stories in the most symbolic center of power: the nation’s capital¬—especially in these watershed times. It’s an honor to work with other artists and institutions and join in the larger conversation about what it means to be a person in our complex and rapidly shifting world.”

This series is part of the Hirshhorn’s diverse range of public engagement, which explores how art, music, performance and technology shape 21st-century culture. These programs illustrate the Hirshhorn’s commitment to providing free access to the most significant artists of the present time through hybrid in-person and online programming. To find information on upcoming programs, visit hirshhorn.si.edu/events.

The public can sign up for the Hirshhorn Highlights email newsletter for the full schedule and first release of times for all programs.

(Online) On Process with Laurie Anderson
Wednesday, Feb. 23; 6 p.m. ET
Free; registration required for Zoom. Livestream also available on YouTube and Facebook Live

Anderson will join Marina Isgro, the Hirshhorn’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Secretarial Scholar and associate curator of media and performance art, for a candid conversation about the artist’s process and the evolution of some of her largest projects to date, many of them featured in “Laurie Anderson: The Weather.” By the time an artwork goes on view, it is considered “finished” and ready for the world to see. Yet viewers often do not perceive what the work went through to reach its final state. What was the initial idea? What did the first draft look like? How and why did it evolve into what it looks like now? When is an artwork complete? Does it live up to the artist’s vision? What was it like to produce a major exhibition during a global pandemic? Anderson has a constantly changing relationship with process in its many forms—from drawing sketches of video installations to improvising large-scale wall paintings to generating and editing language with artificial intelligence.

(Online) Screening: Laurie Anderson’s “Personal Service Announcements”
From Monday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m. ET, through Sunday, July 31
Free; available on hirshhorn.si.edu

For a limited time only, all six of Anderson’s “Personal Service Announcements” (PSAs) videos will be available to view on the Hirshhorn website. The critically acclaimed musician and artist has spent decades making masterpieces out of doing the unexpected. In 1989, when Anderson released her fourth studio album, Strange Angels, Warner Bros. Records asked her to make a music video. Uninspired by the invitation, Anderson instead created a series of videos designed to air on commercial music television channels such as VH-1 and MTV. These videos are now known as the “Personal Service Announcements” and, by the artist’s own admission, did not have much to do with the songs on the album. Instead, the artist’s PSAs addressed important issues of the time, as Anderson monologues about topics as wide-ranging as women’s salaries, military spending, the national debt and the national anthem.

Featured “Personal Service Announcements”:

  • “Personal Service Announcement: Jerry Rigging” (0:48 min.)
  • “Personal Service Announcement: Military Research” (1:10 min.)
  • “Personal Service Announcement: National Anthem” (1:48 min.)
  • “Personal Service Announcement: National Debt” (2:10 min.)
  • “Personal Service Announcement: TV Lunch” (0:58 min.)
  • “Personal Service Announcement: Women and Money” (1:51 min.)

(Online) O Superwomen: Artist Talk with Rada Akbar and Laurie Anderson
Tuesday, March 8; 5 p.m. ET
Free; registration required for Zoom. Live stream also available on YouTube and Facebook Live

Anderson will join Afghan conceptual artist Rada Akbar on International Women’s Day to discuss their upcoming collaboration, “A Fashion Show for Spirits,” in addition to exploring issues of women and power, perception and photography in Akbar’s ongoing project “Abarzanan,” which translates to “Superwomen” in Dari Persian, and Anderson’s “Fully Automated Nikon” (1973), currently on view in “Laurie Anderson: The Weather.”

(In Person) “I Have Something to Say”: Advocating for Human Rights through Artmaking with Laurie Anderson and Mohammed el Gharani
Wednesday, May 4
Oprah Winfrey Theater, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Anderson and Mohammed el Gharani, who was detained at Guantánamo Bay from 2002 to 2009, will participate in a conversation exploring human rights and incarceration moderated by activist and film producer Kweku Mandela. The pair collaborated on the monumental video installation “Habeas Corpus” (2015), in which el Gharani, projected on a 14-foot sculpture modeled after the Lincoln Memorial, shares his recollections of Guantánamo and reflections on unlawful imprisonment. “Habeas Corpus” is currently on view in “Laurie Anderson: The Weather.” The in-person program will be recorded for online broadcast. This program is co-presented by the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community MuseumHirshhorn Museum and Sculpture GardenNational Museum of African American History and Culture and National Museum of African Art.

(Online) Meditation and Mindfulness: “Songs from the Bardo” Friday, May 6; noon ET
Free; but registration is required for Zoom

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, in collaboration with the Hirshhorn Museum and Smithsonian Folkways, will present a 30-minute online sound meditation featuring Buddhist-inspired music by Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal and Jesse Paris Smith from their album Songs from the Bardo (2019). A conversation about the album will follow the meditation practice. This one-time program is part of a series of free, 30-minute online meditation sessions hosted by the National Museum of Asian Art three times every week and led by Washington-based meditation teachers. All are welcome, and no previous meditation experience is required.

(In Person) Laurie Anderson Presents “Lou Reed’s Drones” Friday, June 3; 4 p.m. ET
Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden
Advance Hirshhorn Insider passes available Friday, May 13, noon ET (space is limited)
General passes available Monday, May 16, noon ET

For one time only, Anderson presents a drone-based sonic experience as part of the yearlong celebration of what would be Lou Reed’s 80th birthday. Anderson and special guests will perform live throughout the afternoon alongside an installation of guitars from her late husband’s collection that will be curated by Reed’s former guitar technician Stewart Hurwood. Reed’s instruments are arranged with a group of amplifiers to create an enveloping drone of harmonics that shifts as the sound waves and the audience move through the garden. This performance will be presented as part of Sound Scene, an annual sound festival coordinated in partnership with DC Listening Lounge.

(In Person) Film Double Feature: Laurie Anderson’s “Home of the Brave” and “Heart of a Dog”
Thursday, June 23; 6 p.m.
Hirshhorn Museum Ring Auditorium
Free; advance registration required
Advance Hirshhorn Insider passes available Friday, May 6, noon ET (space is limited)
General passes available Monday, May 9, noon ET

In honor of Anderson’s broad achievement in filmmaking, the Hirshhorn will present an evening screening that combines a concert film and an introspective meditation on life and storytelling.

  • 6 p.m.: Home of the Brave (90 min.)

Viewers can experience the premiere of a newly remastered and never-before-seen version of Anderson’s dynamic concert film Home of the Brave (1986), directed by the artist herself. Filmed during her first world tour, promoting 1984’s Mister Heartbreak, the film includes songs from the album, selections from her 1983 “United States” show and other music, with visuals blending film, animation, dance and electronics.

  • 7:45 p.m.: “Heart of a Dog” (75 min.)

“Hello, little bonehead. I’ll love you forever.” So begins “Heart of a Dog,” Anderson’s wry, wondrous and unforgettable cinematic journey through love, death and language. Centering on Anderson’s beloved rat terrier Lolabelle, who died in 2011, “Heart of a Dog” is a personal essay that weaves together childhood memories; video diaries; philosophical musings on data collection, surveillance culture and the Buddhist conception of the afterlife; and heartfelt tributes to the artists, writers, musicians and thinkers who inspire her. Fusing her own witty, inquisitive narration with original violin compositions, hand-drawn animation, 8 mm home movies and artwork culled from exhibitions past and present, Anderson creates a hypnotic, collagelike visual language out of the raw materials of her life and art, examining how stories are constructed and told—and how people use them to make sense of their lives.

(In Person) Laurie Anderson Presents “Quartet for Sol” Saturday, July 23; 5 p.m. ET
Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden
Advance Hirshhorn Insider passes available Friday, May 13, noon ET (space is limited)
General passes available Monday, May 16, noon ET, pending availability

The final performance presented in conjunction with “Laurie Anderson: The Weather” will activate the Hirshhorn’s outdoor Sculpture Garden. Anderson will introduce a presentation of “Quartet for Sol,” a musical tribute that she composed based on conceptual artist Sol LeWitt’s number series drawings. LeWitt taught Anderson at the School of Visual Arts and remained a mentor throughout her career. “Quartet for Sol,” composed between 1972 and 1974 and arranged in 2016, will be performed by celebrated cellist Rubin Kodheli, with performers to be announced. Kodheli and Anderson will perform a duet to open the event.

About the Artist

A Grammy Award-winning musician, performer, writer and artist, Anderson has an international reputation as an artist who combines the traditions of the avant-garde with popular culture. Anderson’s theatrical works fuse a variety of media, including performance, music, poetry, sculpture, opera, anthropological investigations and linguistic games, to elicit emotional reactions. As a visual artist, Anderson has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum, SoHo and extensively in Europe, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. She has also released seven albums for Warner Bros., including Big Science, featuring the song “O Superman,” which rose to No. 2 on the British pop charts. In 1999, Anderson staged “Songs and Stories from Moby Dick,” an interpretation of Herman Melville’s 1851 novel.

About the Exhibition

The largest-ever U.S. exhibition of artworks by the groundbreaking American multimedia artist, “Laurie Anderson: The Weather” debuts more than 50 works spanning the entire second floor of the Hirshhorn Museum, including 10 major new artworks interspersed with select key works from throughout Anderson’s prolific career. This dynamic exhibition showcases the artist’s boundless creative process, featuring her work in video, performance, installation, painting and other media. The exhibition will be accompanied by a robust calendar of public programs—the most expansive in the museum’s history—with the artist. “Laurie Anderson: The Weather” runs through July 31.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. The Hirshhorn Museum is open Thursday‒Sunday, 10 a.m.‒5:30 p.m. The outdoor sculpture garden is open daily 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.