France, USA | 2015 | 75 mins | English | Indian Premiere
Centring on Laurie Anderson’s beloved rat terrier, Lolabelle, who died in 2011, Heart of a Dog is a personal essay on love and loss that weaves together childhood memories, video diaries and musings on Buddhism. In the opening chapter, Anderson dreams of ‘giving birth’ to Lolabelle. Later, as her dog starts to go blind, Anderson arranges music and painting lessons for her, segueing into her journey into the afterlife—or the bardo, as it is known in Tibetan Buddhism. The film also explores a childhood ordeal during which Anderson broke her back and was confined to a children’s ward, and a meditation on the connections between post-9/11 surveillance culture in New York and the US government’s obsession with data collection. Largely shot on small digital cameras, Heart of a Dog also combines hand-drawn animation, 8mm film and artwork from Anderson’s art exhibitions past and present.
Born in Illinois, US, in 1947, Laurie Anderson holds degrees in art history and sculpture from Barnard College and Columbia University. She staged her first performance piece—a symphony played on car horns—in 1969. Anderson’s performing career took off in 1981 with the release of O Superman, followed by the concert film Home of the Brave (1986) and the live show Songs and Stories for Moby Dick (1999). In 2002, she became the first artist in residence at the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), culminating in her 2004 tour The End of the Moon. “The question at the centre of Heart of a Dog,” she says, “is what are stories? How are they made and how are they told? Throughout I was guided by the spirit of David Foster Wallace whose phrase ‘Every love story is a ghost story’ served as my mantra.”