HEART OF A DOG – This month’s must watch film now showing at the Film Forum NYC
HEART OF A DOG (HEART) is a personal essay by renowned performance artist Laurie Anderson 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, 8mm home movies and artwork culled from exhibitions past and present, Anderson creates a hypnotic, collage-like visual language out of the raw materials of her life and art, examining how stories are constructed and told — and how we use them to make sense of our lives.
Beginning with the dream sequence that opens the film, HEART creates a visual language out of the many linked stories comprising its 75-minute running time that is akin to dream logic. “The first story is told from the perspective of my dream self. The first words in the movie are ‘This is my dream body,'” says Anderson. “So the narrator says right away that these stories come from a different time and place.” But the film is as much about fractured stories as it is about the construction of stories.
Heart of a Dog fuses the raw materials of Anderson’s life and art into a greater narrative about love and loss, life and death, and the passage of time. She segues into her beloved dog Lolabelle’s journey into the afterlife — or the Bardo, as it is known in The Tibetan Book of the Dead — depicted in a series of charcoal drawings that were originally shown in the artist’s 2011 show “Forty-Nine Days in the Bardo” at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. The multimedia exhibition included some of the same themes in HEART, including love and death, the many levels of dreaming, and illusion.