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Multimedia Artist Laurie Anderson to Headline Grad Symposium

Laurie Anderson will be the keynote speaker at the New England Graduate Media Symposium, Friday, March 25, at the Paramount Center. 

International multimedia artist Laurie Anderson, who has collaborated with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Phillip Glass, Andy Kaufman, and her husband, Lou Reed, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s New England Graduate Media Symposium, which will revolve around the theme of collaboration.

The symposium, “Assembling Bodies: Exchanges in Collaboration,” was organized by Emerson College MFA students but is open to graduate students across schools and disciplines, as well as the general public. It will take place on Friday, March 25, 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, at the Paramount Center. Anderson will speak from 6:00 to 7:00 pm, and then take questions from the audience.

“When we were thinking of someone for the symposium [to give the keynote], we were going through a list of people who work in collaboration with other artists, but we were also aware of the need to make the symposium something relevant to [Emerson College],” said organizer Anto Astudillo, who is studying for her MFA in the Department of Visual and Media Arts. “[Anderson] started as a musician…she actually invented her own instrument. Then she started to do a lot of work, multimedia work, she did film, she did installation.”

Astudillo and her co-organizer, Kimberly Forero-Arnias, also an MFA student, said originally they were thinking of making the symposium about exploring one or more art forms, such as dance, through film, but they decided the theme was too narrow for what they wanted to do with the event. Then Forero-Arnias suggested that collaboration is basically what the symposium itself is.

“Part of the idea of making collaboration the theme had to do with our desire to expand the event to more students, to more grad schools across the Boston area, to draw a larger audience to the event,” Forero-Arnias said. “The mission behind it is to bring people together to have a discussion about what it means to collaborate, and the various ways that one can think about collaboration.”

Anderson’s art spans genres, from music to performance art, to comics, to filmmaking. She began her career in New York in the late-1960s with a symphony of car horns. Last year, Anderson made the documentary Heart of a Dog, a reflection on the life and death of her dog, in 2015. She invented a tape-bow violin; had a song, “O Superman,” hit number two on the British pop charts; did voice acting for The Rugrats Movie; and was NASA’s first artist-in-residence.

The symposium also will feature four panels: “Sites,” “Objects,” “Ideas,” and “Assemblies.”

For a full schedule, more information, or to register for the event, visit the New England Graduate Media Symposium website.