T:BA:07 Day Five – Monday, 10 September 2007
I love yoga. Have I mentioned that? I LOVE YOGA!!!
I started about a year ago. I was dating this woman that I met at Burningman, whom is a yoga teacher, and when I went to visit her the first time in San Francisco, I took my first yoga class. Well, since then, she came out of the closet, started a wonderful relationship with a woman, and we, needless to say, broke-up. But, I have continued with my yoga practice. And I love it!
Much like T:BA, I believe that all things in your life are there for a reason. They are opportunities to learn and grow. Nature Theatre of Oklahoma is one of those things for me. I hated them last year with a passion, and cringle this year a bit when I start seeing folks wearing their t-shirts; but I am looking forward to their workshop later in the week, so that I may learn.
Today, assuming that I finish this bLog speedily, take a shower, and get my butt downtown in time, I will be taking a workshop with a theatre group that I enjoyed last night, but did not impress me too much. But, in that, I might learn something…
Last night, I wanted to bLog before going to sleep.
It has a wonderful reflective and tidy sense to wrap up the day in word, and then lull off to dreams. But, as I was sitting in the Wonder Ballroom talking with some friends about their playa experience this year, and whether they feel that the Burn is ‘done’ or not; I realize, yep… I need to get some sleep. Sorry, getting up for my 7am yoga class trumped this bLog. That’s just the way it is.
OK, so what happened yesterday?
What inspired me? What was I thinking? What did I have as a snack? [Well, you probably do not care about my gastronomical adventures, but that’s all part of the journey…]
Oh, sorry, gotta get up and give the pup her morning milkbone. Oh, and now that I finished the bowl of cottage cheese, I need to have my bowl of pumpkin flax seed granola.
Btw, perhaps you have been wondering about this pup that I have mentioned time and again. Shelby is a 6yo Siberian Husky, and she ROCKS! If you have seen the red Siberian roaming around the Wonder Ballroom, Shelby is much like that, but BETTER! [Hey, she’s my pup, so I’m biased.]
Yadda, yadda, yadda,… Fredrick, would you get on task already…
10:00a Urban Honking Workshop, Gerding Armory
12:30p Illusion & Anti-Illusion, PNCA
Arnold Kemp / Regina Silveira
3:00p Sara Greenberger Rafferty Salon, Corberry Press
Space is a Place / Larry Donovan / Sara Greenberger Rafferty Exhibit
4:00p Ina Diane Archer, PSU: Autzen
6:30p tEEth, PCPA: Winningstad
8:30p Kassys, PSU: Lincoln
10:30p Cloud Eye Control / Anna Oxygen
Yesterday started with a presentation by Urban Honking. They are the folks that are hosting this bLog site for PICA Well, the funny thing is that I was a touch late for the talk, as I was writing the bLog from the day before, and their website was having some serious bandwidth problems. That basically means, that it was as slow as molasses, and then crashing out. A technical term for, “Hey, guys, time to spend some more money and upgrade your software and connection speed!”. Well, this became a topic of our discussion. “The life of the web”…
These three housemates thought it would be fun to start up a bLog site, and have some of their friends write articles. Over time, it has grown and taken on its own life, which is both wonderful and sometime difficult as the parent of the organism.
This is something that happened with Tribe.net. About a year ago, they were purchased by Pepsi, and the site was ‘corrupted’ with advertising. Then they were PG-13 filtered, but not to the extend of MySpace. Now they are getting back on their legs, and the community feels strong again. The owners of that site, after selling Tribe started a site called Zaadz. They started the site with the intention of a sustainable community. They learned from Tribe, and wanted to find a sustainable commercial method, much like Patagonia and some other environmentally conscious companies. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes not. This is what is happening with Burningman these days. It is also what could happen with Urban Honking if they are not more sagacious parents. They say that they do not want to go commercial, but they also do not want to have to pay for extra bandwidth out of their own pockets. After all, this is just a hobby for them, it is not their day job. I really question this. If you do not really care, then don’t do it. It is quite a bit of what we were discussing with Sara Greenberger Rafferty the day before. Be an artist, or get out of Hell’s Kitchen!
Well, we will have to see what happens with Urban Honking.
My prediction is that they will find some other hobby in a few years, and this will be a random memory for them. But, we will have to see…
Next was a Noon:30 chat with Melia Donovan, Larry Bamburg, and Kristan Kennedy entitled “Illusion & Anti-Illusion”. There was some interesting discussion about Melia’s work, and the feminine perspective, connections to traditional handicraft around the home, and her photographic intentions. The funny thing, is that I, much like a number of others in the audience, went to see Melia’s work, and did not see it. It is subtle, and I am going to have to search it out a bit more carefully as the week goes on.
I was a bit more interested in what Larry and Kristan started to discuss, “The process of making”. Larry talked about his ‘asinine’ process, one that completely frustrated Jörg Jakoby of PICA, which is where the beauty comes from. When you have an idea, you need to get it out of your head fast and furious. The longer you ‘think’ about it, the more that you gestate, the more that societal preconceptions and mediocrity will intervene. Larry wants to get it out, pure, raw, honest. And he did just that. Sure, there is no way to archive his work. The tape will yellow in a few weeks and then peel off. The plastic t-bars will eventually sag and collapse under the weight and torque of the kinetic elements… But, for now, it is a beautiful installation.
So, I posed the question to Larry and Kristan about blurred lines, about sculpture v. performance art. I do not have an answer, and neither did the two of them; but I am quite interested in this. My work has been going in this direction, and I would love to have some ideas and feedback to make the work more provocative.
I have been doing some larger scale sculptural installation / environments.
In the forty-foot square and up variety.
They have been quite fun and people have been enjoying them.
One group commissioned me to create a piece for them in the Crystal Ballroom. They liked it so much, they then commissioned me a second time for another piece during a First Thursday. Well, I have been wanting to take the ‘process of making’ into the presentation, so that the works whether they be temporary or permanent have a knowledge that they can convey with the audience both passively and actively.
The commission became a way of me creating a sculptural piece, and then Mizu Desierto [an accomplished Butoh dancer] was nested within, and started to respond to the piece. I then responded to her movement, and sculpted the piece more. For kicks, Noah Mickens was brought into the mix to act as percussionist and ‘play’ the steel. The piece was amazing. It was nothing that I imagined, and completely took on its own organic life for the two hours that we performed in front of a couple hundred unexpecting people.
Kinematic Space: http://www.fhzal.com/works/060706
I also made a proposal to PICA for last year’s T:BA for a progressive installation.
They piece was going to evolve over the course of all ten days, by each morning having a two-hour aerial installation performance in the atrium of Wieden + Kennedy.
Unfortunately, the piece required a minimum budget of $15,000; so it was scrapped, but I would still like to see something of the sort happen.
1,000 Vectors | 10 days: http://www.fhzal.com/works/060330
The big question, is how [from a curatorial / audience / patron standpoint] may it stay interesting.
I love Larry’s piece, but watching him tie monofilament for twenty hours would be just a touch better then watching grass grow. That epiphany moment when he turned a high-tech cookie sheet into a non-skid fan belt cylinder, was certainly a better fireworks display inside of his head, then outside. But, I don’t know. I remember back in graduate school, people used to love watching me whirl around creating maquettes. So, I do believe that there might be a way to make the process really interesting.
Please do comment, give me some ideas, start a dialogue.
This is something that I would like to learn more about, and will probably expand this little paragraph into something longer for submission to a journal or magazine.
Moving right along…
Sara Greenberger Rafferty had her book release at the Corberry Press, which was a good way to try and get more folks over there, as this year the location is a bit out-of-the-way, and therefore not drawing the attendance that it deserves. Go check out the work in the space, and the light pieces by Hap Tivity next door at Liz Leach’s temporary warehouse.
I had heard Sara talk about her book the day before in her workshop, so I felt is was redundant; plus there was a cast and crew screening of a film about the fire circus that I was part of for a number of years. So, I headed over to the Clinton Street theatre for that instead.
Back home for a moment, another slice of lasagna [as I baked one and a banana cake to help facilitate healthy eating during this chaotic week before it began].
I had intention of seeing Ina Diane Archer’s work at PSU’s Autzen gallery, but I wanted to relax for a moment and spent some time with my pup, as she has not been getting the attention that she usually receives with me running around this a mad PICA patron.
TEEth had their premiere of “Normal and Happy” last night at PCPA’s Winningstad theatre. Besides the fact this is my favorite performance space in town, I have been looking forward to seeing another work by Angelle Herbert and Phillip Kraft [www.rubberteeth.com] for a while. The couple tends to create one piece a year, expending all of their energy and capital in the investment. You can feel that. There is nothing held back. They believe in that fully, and give of themselves to such an extent that they could end up in an asylum, ICU or poor house if the work is not accepted as they hope. But, don’t worry, it is GREAT!!! If they ever had financial concerns, I imagine [or atleast hope] that it will now be a thing of the past. I can only hope that patrons and underwriters see this work, recognize their mature talent, see the potential for decades of exploration, and write them a blank check for that future journey.
The work of Angelle Herbert and Phillip Kraft defies explanation. That is why it is so profound, though-provoking, fresh and inspirational for me. Taylor Mac abhors comparison, and I would agree here, as any comparison with water down the intensity and truth behind the work that is tEEth, or place them at odds with other amazingly talented artists.
But, since the show is sold-out, it might not be possible for everyone to take it in.
I can only hope that somehow, someone decides to let them perform a few more times, as three shows is just not enough for the entire world to see… But, in that, it is also brilliant. If the world wants to see their work, they are going to have to be commissioned for more work in other locations around the world!
[Hint, Hint, Hint… Baryshnikov Arts Center give them a call, and set them up for a residency!]
OK, so I’ll tell you a bit, but I also want people to camp out to try and get in, so I do not want to put in any spoilers…
Frame of reference:
If you grew-up seeing Mel Stuart’s cinematic version of Ronald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” , beheaded chicken in the tunnel and all, you are walking the right path. Tim Burton did a re-make in 2005, but Hollywood flinched. Tim could have beautifully delivered the vision of Dahl, but they were terrified that the public would not accept it, and they would not make back their money. This is a shame, and something that has plagued Burton’s career. Angelle Herbert and Phillip Kraft do not flinch. They do not pull-back, they do not hesitate, they do not back-down. Their work is completely uncompromising. Like Donna Uchizono, they challenge their dancers to move their bodies in manners that are completely bizarre, like Takashi Shimizu in his horrific films. Angelle Herbert and Phillip Kraft have become known for their use of facial expressions and Clockwork Orange-like voluntary body deformations of mouth and eyes.
Knowing a number of the dancers, it was quite strange trying to figure out whom they were on stage. The cast has been very secretive about the work, even under extreme pressure since the partial release at On the Boards in Seattle, when they received great acclaim. Angelle Herbert and Phillip Kraft have a way of making amazingly beautiful people incredible ugly, or should I say twisted. Watching two beautiful dancers within a kaleidoscope of movement, transform into gawking tongue smacking chicken hawks is quite intense. And I love it!
Toward the beginning of the piece is a duet by Jim McGinn and Alenka Loesh. I consider Jim to be one of Portland best dancers, and certainly one of the community members that Baryshnikov is concerned about getting drawn in Paris to leave a vacuum here where he once was. But, he deserves it. Jim dances four to six hours each and every day, uncompromisingly. He loves his art, and he does not waver. This is why he was a natural selection for Angelle Herbert and Phillip Kraft. Alenka Loesh has a world renowned presence, and we are lucky that she has been residing in Portland for the last few years. I had the delight of collaborating with her about a year ago on a piece called ePheMere with Mizu Desierto. Alenka’s strength come from the diversity of her background. She has explored her inner-gypsy and toured the world, dancing with any company that inspired her. ePheMere was primarily in the school of Butoh, and you can see it in tEEth. Alenka’s toes are as expressive, if not more, than most’s hands. There is a moment, when she is inverted, wrapping her prehensile toes around Jim’s face, with such expression that I was deeply moved. The piece continues with her climbing on him, as he continues to move and contort, as if she was a tree climbing kangaroo. I would love to see what she could do if we had not lost our tails as evolved homosapiens!
As I still do not want to spoil the show, I will stay a bit vague now. There are fifteen dancers in the performance. They each are magnificent in their own right, and even stronger as teams of one, one, two, two, four, and five.
[Ernest Adams, Renee Adams, Jessica Burton, Suniti Dernovsek, Gina Frabotta, Jonathan Krebs, Alenka Loesh, Carla Mann, Jim McGinn, Laura Nash, Estelle Olivares, Bonni Stover, Nicole Stettler with Malina Rodriguez, Paloma Soledad and Vanessa Vogel.]
There is one other part, that I ask you to watch, as I am trying to figure it out myself…
Angelle moved through the looking glass, stretching forth as ghostly apparition, transmutated form, and I just don’t know how! Lycra does not stretch that far, and I have looked for sheet of rubber for performances myself and could not find them anywhere in Portland… So, if you figure it out, please do let me know.
A few last things of interest, Paloma Soledad [costume designer] had been associated with Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” film before leaving LA for Portland a couple of years back. She also worked with them on beNUMBed two years back, which is an amazing performance in and of itself at the IFCC.
Oh, and if you go on the last right, I hear they might be giving out jello shots. Come thirsty.
Well, I left feeling quite Happy after the tEEth performance.
I would have gone home, and dreamed or taken in a nice meal with friends quite contently.
Marc Bamuti Joseph, Reggie Watts, Donna Uchizono; it has been a great T:BA this year. But tEEth eclipsed them fully for me. I will continue my support and advocacy for them, as I truly and honestly LOVE their vision, execution, and innocence.
Never change Angelle Phillip!
The beauty and bane of going to all of T:BA, is something when having a moment of content bliss, you still have to jettison yourself over to the next venue for the next performance.
So, I did…
Next on the docket was Kassys. It is a play that started off with about twenty minutes of us as an audience just chatting away, no fully realizing that the play had begun. The work was about real life, or as much as real life may be portrayed in theatre about real life about theatre about real… ok, you get the point. There is a philosophical feed-back loop here.
The ‘play’ aspect of the play was not to very interesting to me. They were exploring the full extent of “awkwardness”, and they did it quite masterfully. But, the problem, for me, with plays is that they are 1) false, and 2) they depend so very heavily upon well-crafted prose. Not all play writes do a great job.
But, the second aspect of the play was when the ‘play’ was done, and they all went off to their ‘normal’ lives. It was witty, and I enjoyed how they explored actors needing to vent and cope with the emotional state they need to conjure for a performance.
I went over to the Wonder Ballroom feeling reasonably perky. It was, after all, only a seven event day, quite light compared to the day prior.
Cloud Eye Control / Anna Oxygen was performing.
It was a good show, and I enjoyed it.
But, the audience was just dumb-struck. Perhaps they were sleep deprived, as I know I was becoming, but it was not really THAT innovative!
For any of you that have been going to PICA’s performances for a while, you might remember Miranda July’s “Swan Tool” back in 2000 at the Scottish Rites Center in Goose Hollow. THAT was innovative, fresh, new, unprecedented. AND, she had to invent that technology. Anna, sorry, but your art school piece was just another one of the cool things that come out of Cal Arts MFA programs. I liked it, and I look forward to seeing your next vision, but you are going to have to try harder to woo me.
Fredrick H. Zal
Architect | Sculptor | Advocate
an.architecture and industrial design studio
advocating dialogue in the fine + applied arts