M.I.A. stops touring, maybe forever

Did you hear the one about the blogosphere that cried retirement? There was this creative artist, see, who canceled her European tour by announcing her last show at McCarren Pool and then went to Bonnaroo, anyway. In Tennessee, more rumor-fodder for the HTML-happy: She proclaimed that her last show for a while—or maybe ever. "I’m glad I’m spending it with all my hippies," she exclaimed.

Three caveats to the ordeal: 1) M.I.A. claims to be "into writing new songs,” and explained her rejection of the European tour by announcing plans to "put out a new record instead," a follow-up to 2007's much-loved Kala. 2) M.I.A was exhausted, relating to New York Magazine, "I feel like physically I just have to stop for a second. It's too insane." 3) M.I.A. never liked touring that much, anyway: “I’m an artist and it’s really difficult when you become the art, and you’re like, ‘Look at me!’ every day," she explained. "I was never supposed to be like that. I’m eight things [painter, film director, musician, etc.], and I’ve figured out that you can get pleasure from being all of them, and that’s great. But I don’t want to be the thing. And that’s what touring is.”

M.I.A. did, after all, go to film school at London's prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and has claimed to be frustrated that her political messages about Sri Lankan violence and ethnic strife have largely fallen on deaf ears in the context of her music. Perhaps touring is something she really would like to avoid. Perhaps she would like to stop dancing in the spotlight (though pictures tend to suggest otherwise).

Or perhaps what's going on has more to do with circulating stories than definite decisions. Headlines reporting "last show ever" or "Last Gig Ever" seem unable to substantiate the claims entirely; no M.I.A. quotes include the crucial word "ever"—a point that comments in the NY Times ArtsBeat blog make often.

The possibility certainly exists that M.I.A.-as-a-live-show is forever gone. For now, however, the facts remain unclear, and missing-in-action puns will likely continue until she or her publicist clarify if this was the last show before a hiatus or a hermitage.

Related links:

MIA on MySpace
YouTube: M.I.A. - "Paper Planes"

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