Ann Carlson

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2015

Stanford, CA

Ann Carlson (Los Angeles, CA) makes multi-disciplinary work that defies description, scale, and category. Supported by the MAP Fund (2014), her spectacle, Doggie Hamlet focuses on human and non-human relationships, and is performed by five humans, a herding dog, and a flock of sheep. Social issues are the springboard of many of her projects, like in her site specific ritual for climate change, Green Movement (2008) a tongue in cheek performance featuring an ensemble clad in clear plastic dresses – stuffed with dollars bills – and a cow. Her many honors include a USA Artist Prudential Fellowship (2008) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2003). She has presented at the Bing Concert Hall (Stanford University) and The American Center in Paris, among others. She is collaborating with Minneapolis Children’s Theater on a work called Baby Animals (2016). She is currently Artist in Residence at The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, building a new version of Symphonic Body (2013), a performance/orchestral work made entirely of hand and body gestures.

  • Photo Credit: Todd Gilens
    Ann Carlson
  • Ann Carlson- Symphonic Body (Stanford, 2013): /76112904
    Video Credit: Tijana Petrovic
    Symphonic Body (Stanford, 2013)
  • Ann Carlson- Doggie Hamlet (Work in Progress): /111391694
    Video Credit: Peter Richards
    Doggie Hamlet (Work in Progress)
  • Photo Credit: Young Suk Suh
    Chicken: A Dance in Photography
  • Mary Ellen Strom
    Grass, Bird, Rodeo (1998)
  • Photo Credit: James Lyon
    Symphonic Body (Stanford, 2013)
  • Photo Credit: Sean Donovan
    Doggie Hamlet (Work in Progress)
  • Photo Credit: James Lyons
    Symphonic Body (Stanford, 2013)

Thinking back to the start of your career, what is the most useful advice you ever received?

Talking on a payphone in an empty hallway outside a huge studio, I was empty, scared and out of ideas. On the other end of the line, I got some useful advice. “Make work that delights you.” This redundantly obvious suggestion remains a radical challenge. To follow this advice is to look for the traces of delight, pleasure, or joy even as we stand amidst unspeakable violence, silence, sorrow, and extinction. “Make work that delights you.” In that invitation, I have found a palatable beckoning, a rigorously gentle, heartbreaking and goofy, and at times even brutal journey into the core of this delighted life. It’s from here that I work to “make work that delights you.”