After seeing Another Day in America, Laurie Anderson’s witty and thought-provoking performance at the High Performance Rodeo, I could hardly wait to see the internationally renowned multimedia artist’s video installation, The Gray Rabbit.
The installation revolves around an unfortunate childhood accident. When Anderson was 12 years old, she jumped into a pool during summer vacation, missed the water and broke her back. While recovering in the hospital, she was read a story by a volunteer: The Gray Rabbit. The video installation explores how she has retold, remembered and forgotten elements of her own story over time.
The work occupies a large, dark space in the Glenbow. In its centre, on a rectangular section of floor, is a strange, glittering projection screen, around which viewers are arranged. At first, I too stood in line around the projections, staring downward at only a section of it. It was disappointing.
However, this exhibition is layered beyond the fragmented and confusing flickers of narrative projected on a given screen. It’s important to engage with the installation as a whole.
By focusing on more than one section of the six projections, I began to see small differences — sometimes the projectors function individually, while at other times they flow together, sharing imagery. The light shines on pieces of shredded text, small and almost illegible. From farther back, the paper topography becomes a complex landscape filled with glittering fragments. From either end, the length of the projection’s light trail appears path-like , as though you’re walking through Anderson’s memory.
Actively viewed, the installation is a curious and rewarding experience; Anderson does not really tell you a story, or even try to, but instead presents a landscape of her thoughts.