T:BA:07 Day Four – Sunday, 09 September 2007
Good morning fellow PICA T:BA goers.
Yes, I’m sorry… I did not write this at the end of the day last night.
I was pooped!
What can I say, being an active audience participant and eating very little food can do that to you.
[Today, I’m going to be packing snacks! And WATER!]
So, I just cooked myself a five egg omelet with mushrooms and tomatoes, had a nice glass of orange juice… I am ready to start the day! [Yeah, I know, five eggs… oh, what about your cholesterol… don’t worry, I’m in great health… well atleast prior to the beginning of this mad dash from workshop to workshop, performance to performance…]
10:00a Guido va der Werve, Living Room
11:00a Sara Greenberger Rafferty Workshop, IPRC
12:30p Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, PNCA
4:30p Vanden Eynde & Vendendriessche, IFCC
6:30p Las Chicas del 3.5 Floppies, Imago
8:30p Reggie Watts, Someday
10:30p Mirah & Spetratone International, Wonder
I started the day yesterday meeting up with a photographer friend of mine visiting from Minneapolis, Minnesota. [Minne means “water” btw, it makes so much sense.] We had talked about the Pearl Bakery, but as I pulled up, I realized that one of the best little spots in town was right there, and there were some folks prepping the kitchen for the day… Blossoming Lotus. It is a wonderful vegan/vegetarian/raw café in the Yoga in the Pearl building on NW Davis, about a block East of the Gerding Armory.
Much like the interpretive works that we are all seeing at T:BA, my tofu scramble was of a similar nature. “Scramble” is a verb, and does not mean to cook, but to simply toss vigorously. Out came the ‘scramble’ as a delicious heap of spinach and carrots with a generous amount of marinated tofu nested within. The funky greens and ginger juice was just what I needed to perk up for the beginning of an exciting day.
At 10:00am we were going to go to see Guido va der Werve’s films at the Living Room Theatre, but they were closed. I did not even see any PICA posters in the window, so I am not sure if this was a typ-o or something, but I will have to ask around and get back to all of you about this.
Having an hour to dawdle, we strolled around in the warm sun for a bit and checked-out some of the dragon boat races on the Willamette River. I think someone put alum on the dragon heads, because they are much smaller then I remember.
Back over to the Independent Press Resource Center for a workshop with Sara Greenberger Rafferty. Well, it wasn’t really a workshop, it was more like a Show’n’Tell. Bummer, as I was looking forward to using some of the off-set printing presses that they have there and are available for the public to use with a very minimal donation. If you have not checked-out the IPRC before, I would highly recommend doing such. Plus, if you have some projects coming up, it is a great way to solicit an emerging print artist for an innovative commission! Yes, that’s right, you next business cards could be a limited edition work of art!
Sara Greenberger Rafferty showed us a number of pieces that she has created over the years, which were really fun. Small booklets, printed balloons, glassine envelopes, printed duct tape, the medium and methodologies went on and on.
“If you are an artist, they you have to be resourceful, by definition”, if not, then you are a parasite upon the community. [OK, so she did not slam the pseudo-artists this way, but I felt the implication needed to be clarified.] She was talking about coming up with an idea, and needing to figure-out how to make it happen. You might not know how to do it, but you find a way, no matter the obstacle.
This thought flowed perfectly with the next event, “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” a Noon:30 chat with artists Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Phil Busse [Northwest Institute for Social Change], Harrell Fletcher [artist and Portland State University professor], Beth Burns [p:EAR Executive Director], and Linda Kliewer [Pacific Northwest College of Art professor and artist]. Linda was the aggressor in the group while Phil rolled-over and played nice. Beth was the realist, making things happen, and not worrying about getting marks for it. Marc, the dreamer. And, Harrell, he is the “Visual Acquaintance” that I really need to start chatting with more!
The discussion cycled around some ideas about how to make change, or should that even matter, if you are doing what you are doing and it might just happen to create change in the doing… Personally, I believe you just have to do what you love. Don’t have a crappy job. QUIT! Don’t create works that you are not proud of, MAKE THEM BETTER! Don’t complain about not having money, education on your resume, blah, blah, blah,… MAKE IT HAPPEN! Don’t use excuses, don’t hide behind labels and stereotypes, DO WHAT YOU LOVE! TODAY! [tomorrow it might be too late]
That should give you something to chew on for a while…
Humm, chew on… I’m hungry… oh, perfect, a moment to grab some food before heading to the next event… I, unfortunately, grabbed a veggie burrito at Cha Cha Cha. I’m not a huge fan of the place, but it seemed right at the moment. But, the problem with burrito, and the hot sauce that I love to slather upon them is 1) they make me sleepy, and 2) my tummy can sometime rumble afterwards. It is one of those moment when you go, hum perhaps I shouldn’t do this, and then two performances later, you go, yep, I shouldn’t have do that. Sorry for the little tummy symphony.
I was going to get a “Haircut by Children”, but my reservation got blotched, and I was not on the list. Bummer #2 of the day. [Well, they also did not have my name on Sarah’s workshop sheet, so I hope this is not going to be a trend.] Make that Bummer #3 of the day.
Don’t dispair, there are many other fun things, such as the lecture with Donna Uchizono and Mikhail Baryshnikov! Oh, this is a good… make that GREAT day!
If you read my piece from yesterday, you know that I consider Baryshnikov to be a DemiG-d. Well, after all, he is! It was a nice chat, and quite personable. Donna, with all of her talent, is wonderfully insecure about how a piece will be received, even though all people around her laud her vision and success. [One of the problems with the insincerity of the critical arts community, they could love you one minute, and then hate you the next.] Baryshnikov countered this with his modesty. He spoke about himself, and other dancers, as simply being the medium through which a talented choreographer [such as Donna Uchizono] painted her work. Donna does not draw or paint with traditional media, instead, she makes use of the arms, legs, torso, head, and any other body part and/or accoutrement to create a focused and blurred image upon the stage. [Much like Baryshnikov’s recent photographic studies.] Baryshnikov spoke beautifully about Donna’s vision, and how she helps dancers to move off of their center, to challenge their bodies to do what they are not typically going to do, and find a new balance, a new flow, and new silky rhythm. I experienced this in her workshop. At the end of the piece, my legs were a bit twisted, and she asked us to lift our dance partner with our leg, which was already out of balance. I’m not a professional dancer, but it was a hint, a flavor of how she inspires greatness and beauty from dancers whom are as talented as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Levi Gonzalez, Hristoula Harakas, Jodi Melnick, Carla Rudiger and Rebecca Serrell.
The two of them, joined by Mark Russell, spoke about creating community, especially in the difficulties of our contemporary society, politics and economy. It is difficult to find a community, to nuture that community with intimate and collaborative efforts, and then to try and keep that energy together when there are ‘better’ opportunities elsewhere. They are all concerned that NYC is on the path to becoming Disney World. Great for tourists, but nothing for artists.
Baryshnikov has a short run of a Samuel Beckett play in December and January, but after that, he has no plans. Tonight just might be the last time that he ever dances upon a stage, or there might be twenty more performances this year. It all depends upon what inspires him, and what he is offered. He is looking for, and actively asking for, inspiration! Step up, challenge him, he want to meet you and hear about your vision. But, don’t expect that he is necessarily going to do it. He will only work with people that inspire him and that he respects. “Life is too short” afterall.
Check-out the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Who knows, perhaps you will be chosen to have a residency at this amazing facilitiy in one of the best Cities in the world. [Well, second to Portland, of course… uh huh… right.]
From here I dashed over to the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center for the Vanden Eynde & Vendendriessche performance [aka Charlotte, as no one seems to be able to pronounce their full names]. Yes, this is the ‘naked people’ show. Get over it, so they are not wearing any clothing. Neither are you, under all of those layers…
The piece started with Kurt and Charlotte laying vertically upon each other. The skin become transposed into a scrim for video to be cast. It was a very smart idea. By having their nakedness there, but minimized by flesh just being a canvas for other attentions, the crowd was able to get comfortable. After all, not all of us go to Burningman or the nude beach on Sauvie Island regularly, and we are a puritanical culture that is ashamed of our imperfect anatomy. Well, they do rely upon the shock-factor of their exposed epidermis to impress the audience, as I did not find it to be as amazing of a show as people have been clamoring. But, then again, I sometime seem to like things differently then the rest of the crowd.
Listen to me though, and do not just close down when I am a bit negative about a work. There is usually a reason [or something a complete lack of inspiration and hence the reason] why I am critical of works. This is how we discuss, how we grow, how we learn to challenge ourselves and others. It was sad when I chatted after the show with a patron couple, and the husband became disinterested when I said that I did not like it. There were part, which I will elaborate about in a moment, but as a whole, it could use some work, well if they want to be ‘cutting edge’, which does still remain my hope for T:BA performances.
So, back to being nice and supportive…
Charlotte and Kurt began as a scrim, then the quietly transitioned into a loving entwining. A film was projected upon Kurt’s back, as to simulate the hands on Charlotte massaging him. The beauty was the depth with which she was able to deliver this Shiatzu, as the projected image was of clay, as if his back could be sculpted and carved with such love, attention and passion. It was a beautiful moment, and I would recommend for people to see the performance if for just this two-minute sequence. Next Charlotte stood and became screen for image. The first three seconds, when her mouth, nape of neck, sternum, navel and vagina became the location of black-spot finger pulls, was wonderful. Then next few minutes of people pulling socks ‘out of her’ was excessive. Then there was the tying of string upon her nipples and around Kurt’s penis and testicles with a little dance number. You know that it was dispassionate after four years of them doing this, as Kurt did not respond. Perhaps they need to study Shibari a bit and try this again. Then there was the wrapping of their heads in packing tape as Siamese twins. The dance was quite beautiful, and I did enjoy it, but it was timid, without risk.
There are some great ideas, but after four years of touring this performance, it might be time to try something fresh.
Still with me, then let’s hop over to the Imago theater for Las Chicas del 3.5 Floppies. It was a nice play. Afterall, how could you go wrong with everyday dialogue, a smack headed Virgin Mary glowing over a migrant box of stolen bibles, sloppy chatroom hook-ups and a dirty rag mopped linoleum floor.
I needed to be WOWed!
Luckily, Reggie Watts responded to my request.
I got to the Someday Lounge on time, but they are typically a slow venue to seat and start, which I forgot. But, they did have a lite dinner menu, so I was able to order a three-cheese lasagna. YUM! Expecting microwave bar food, I was delighted with the balsamic dressed salad and the warmed ramekin of yummy cheese, sauce, pasta and tomato.
I think that crowd might have been a bit drunk.
The bar was hopping, and the ice cubes were sitting dry at the bottom of glasses by the time Reggie fumbled up onto the stage.
With every move, every word, the crowd was bauling out with laughter.
I agree, he was funny, cute, delightful, but GOLLY he was not that good.
OK, so he then got a lot better!
I was drawn in, much like with Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Taylor Mac.
What I witnessed was like Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister raking Jesse Helms over his presumptive hot coals over the Mapplethorpe / NEA debate in the early 90’s. Dee Snyder has a Ph.D. in literature, and Helm assumed that he was going to be an idiot, a push-over. Not the case.
I do not know about Reggie’s educational path, but he is certainly as smart, insightful and inventive.
Do go see him perform!
You will be delighted!
[Oh, a side note, as there are so many folks doing the sampling thing this year, perhaps the powers that be will look into Zoë Keating for a cello performance next year. www.zoekeating.com She has a twelve-channel sampling feedback loop, which is pretty great! Her bright red dreadlocks are a nice touch too.]
Oh, I’m starting to get tired…
The Wonder Ballroom… I can make it…
Mirah & Spetratone International were there to coo and woo us into a graceful restful sleep. Thank you, it was a wonderful musical and stop-animation close to the evening. The Works this year has completely departed from the end of the day rave that it used to be in Kristy days. I miss it, but since I do not seem to have the 59yo energy of Baryshnikov all days, I suppose that jamming to the Lifesavas only on the first night was just fine. Actually, it was a perfect way to end a perfect day.
Things I loved, things I could have skipped, but all things that I took in, openly, without preconception…
Fredrick H. Zal
Architect | Sculptor | Advocate
Atelier Z
an.architecture and industrial design studio
advocating dialogue in the fine + applied arts