Live feed web cam and audio work station under the stairs in the back of lobby of TBA Central at the Weiden and Kennedy Building.
I photographed the computer screen to show Edie showing me the drawing she created of me. We had a surreal moment together just then. She told me how she was still feeling that awkward feeling of camera shyness even through the computer. I told her I felt the same sort of awkward feeling when I was attempting to draw her. Drawing is not something I consider myself good at. She said she really liked my drawing of her and i was just glad it came out looking like a drawing of someone.
She faxed me the drawing she did of me and I pinned it to the wall near the workstation along with my drawing of her.
This experience reminded me of the time I was on Capitol Hill in Seattle sitting in a massage chair at an oxygen bar with purple air tubes up my nose in the walkway of a mall. I enjoyed it and recommend it to everyone – despite the feeling that you might be sitting there in public looking really strange and oddly exposed.
To see more TBA photography by Serena Davidson click here: Serena Davidson Photography
A beautiful work that stayed with me. Got me thinking and opened me up in that way that great performances can at their best. Reawakening me to the long view of life in a way that brings me more into the present. What can I say? I liked it.
After reading the other blog posts on this piece here – I must have walked away with a little something different than the other people posting so far.
To me it said: “Loss and pain interupt our plans and our joys. Playmates and dear friends can bring our deepest pains. In the end – perhaps just to get through it all – forget about societies expectations and ridicule. Live life while you have it and do what feels right for you.”
For these ladies – part of that is smoking a cigarette while dancing around alone in their underwear.
wedding day interupted by the death of a girlhood friends mother
young girls playground fun with glee
young girls playfulness and bullying
The scene where one woman does an impression of urinating into a skillet which then is cooked into a pancake by another woman. Two women feed the pancake to one another in a very funny way with ravenous appetite. Much sweet sharing and offering bites to the other that were dropped on the ground.
partially shedding the mask and some clothing, stretching out in the light
the stupor of loss and grief
growing old, taking the mask off
some times call for putting on your red dancing shoes
what appeared to me to be dancing alone …. together
the rhythm and repitition of this dancing in their underwear while smoking a cigarett reminded me of that line in an old song: “If that’s all there is…. then let’s keep dancing”
To see more TBA photography by Serena Davidson click here: Serena Davidson Photography
posted by laurabecker
so, last year’s catalog cover girl was the wonderer of “how heavy are my thoughts” and this year the poster it boy is the feathered one from “itching of the wings”, which makes it interesting that these two pieces were strangely similar.
a quasi-academic setting. a mix of live presenters and documented research. a query into the weight of existence which has no matter (e.g. life, desires, thoughts) and frivolity presented as weighty.
in a sense, i feel like last year’s piece was for beginners and this year they’ve upped the ante, because while ivana mueller’s piece was stimulating, it was charmingly simple enough to not actually be very heavily thought provoking, vivarium studio’s piece was much more complex and literally more layered to necessitate you having to think about it. and by thinking about it, you realize how charmingly frivolous it was considering the depth of its issues. the two stand out documentary film clips included a woman who had to interrupt the interview to take a phone call in which she discussed the mundane aspects of dealing with her father’s death, then cheerily asked “and how are you?”; and a man who had written a song about people liberating themselves from manipulation and creating a revolution to make the world not suck so much that he thought should be sung to a “cheerful tune”.
and while pondering man’s yearning to fly seems pretty light, the accompanying thought is of the tragic potential of man’s ability to fly on the eve of the fifth anniversary of september 11th.
thank you vivarium studio, thank you for providing another reminder of all the evidence that’s out there that art is therapeutic in tough times. thank you for your layers, your subtle puzzles and your soothing stories. thank you for providing another reminder to live and explore life seriously, but in a silly way. it gave me just the lift i needed.
Knowing that Yubiwa Hotel “explore what it means to be a modern Japanese woman” I approached CANDIES Girlish Hardcore wondering to what extent I, a modern American woman, would relate. Not unexpectedly, Yubiwa Hotel’s aesthetic is extremely feminine and very Japanese. By turns ridiculously cute, delicately harmonious, and over-the-top sexy, the performance was visually arresting from start to finish. The emotions communicated were as universal as the experience of childhood, and the surreal activities the performers engaged in together called to mind the behavior of girls everywhere.
The verbal parts of Girlish Hardcore were spoken in Japanese with English “subtitles” projected on a wall behind the performers. I had trouble watching the performance and reading the narration at the same time so I gave up on closely following the voiceover component of Girlish Hardcore. I suspect that the narrative may have been as bizarre and nonlinear as the performance itself and that, even if I understood Japanese and could hear and watch the show simultaneously, it still might not have made much sense in any traditional sort of way.
The performers seemed to be translating common female experiences into heavily stylized gestures. Doing an arty variation on basketball drills in virgin-white nightgowns, they reminded me of the thrill and horror that gym class can inspire at a certain age, slumber party games of Truth or Dare, and of the nervous conformity that grips girls just as they begin to make the transition into adulthood. As “girls” the performers play, bond, tussle and argue, switching costumes and identities with fluid ease. When they become “women” they cease to interact directly with one another. Instead they focus on staying in rhythm while each struggles in her own way through an absurdly complicated striptease. The difficulties each woman faced didn’t seem to have been scripted specifically, but were the natural outcome of a script that intentionally presented obstacles to keep the women from attaining the synchronous perfection that defines manufactured girl groups.
I watched, rapt, as one woman tried and failed to attach a sugar cone to her frog mask. She eventually threw down her shards of cone and joined the synchronized tap dancing of her successfully coned comrades in panda, rooster, pig, and rabbit masks, recovering with the grace of an Olympic ice skater after a botched triple axle. When it came time for all the women to unmask themselves and eat their “rhinoceros horns” she simply buried her face in her frog mask in a sensual pantomime of self-consumption.
In which our hero pledges undying love and demands marriage.
Also demands satisfaction.
As soon as I took my seat and saw all the candles on stage emulating the night sky I knew I was in for a treat. Where to start…Laurie (I use her first name to pretend we’re BFF, k?) was like a drunken frat boy at a nerd toga party, if frat boys were awesome and nerds in togas were the profundities you forget upon waking…..
Oh. my. god…..
There wasn’t any super-tidy theme to the show, but it seemed to center upon that fear that infected us all 5 years, 1 day, and a few hours ago. How, like her dog, who so confidently watched and sniffed the ground, realized there were vultures in the air coming to kill it, we now watch the skies not with dreams of reaching out farther, but by peeking out from under the covers.
She talked about our dreams, about how they involve zombies and fighting with severed heads and how scientists tell us that sleep is when the body rests. And when people ask us how we slept we answer: fine. Why can’t we say “It was fucking horrifying.” Or write a blog about a mind-blowing show without some valley girl Valley Girl Intelligentsia?
I won’t paraphrase Laurie (Laurie, love your hair, girl!) anymore, it’s embarrassing.
Oh, also, the music. There was music. It was great, treated violin, nice ambient pads, and tastefully minimal percussion. The only way I can think of explaining her music at this show is by comparing it to her other music. This stuff seemed less flashy, with an understated confidence.
I gotta run to MusicFest NW.
When I arrived there was no where near enough seats for all the people who were there to see the show, so the staff-person offered to let me sit in the crow’s nest.
“ooh! Like a pirate?” I asked.
“Sort of,” she replied.
I was stoked.
Well, it wasn’t what I imagined, but at least I got to see the show.
Now I just have to figure it out.
I’ve always had a translation problem with Japanese entertainment. An old co-worker was always showing me these weird anime movies and I never understood them either. I did like this show though, and I’m glad I went. I feared that it would be shock theater from what I had heard, but everything worked really well. Even the scene in which a naked girl gives birth to / pees out pancake batter onto an electric griddle worked really well, (if my English teacher could read me now!) with the humorous eating scene balancing out the strangeness beautifully.
I tried googling Yubiwa, but all I came up with was a song on a soundtrack.
The write up says it deals with being a modern Japanese woman. Mostly what I identified seemed to be a theme dealing with loss and the fact that you will be lost, but the tidy box I was trying to gather those elements into kept getting torn apart.
It’s like, “my friend is dead, she was too polite to let any of us know. P.S. I’m wearing a chicken mask. I wish I could see the weather on the day I die. Guess I’ll do choreographed cabaret while smoking.”
All I know is that I did enjoy the show, and if anyone wants to point a few things out to me, I’ll be grateful!
Vivarium delivered an amazing story in true TBA fashion through acting, music, video, and bizarre machines.
Scout Niblett and her drummer at the works put on an awesome show. Also, The Shaking Hands rocked the same stage before she came on.
or: The Only Vacancy Now is in my Head
Last night as I waited in line for a performance, I heard a woman say that she’d been to see the Candies: Girlish Hardcore show (Yubiwa Hotel). When her friend asked how she’d liked it, she shook her head as though trying to dislodge fluff from her ears, and said, “I think I’m still trying to figure it out.” It could take her a while — I saw the matinee show today and I’m still scratching my head about it. Visually it was quite arresting: animal masks and floaty white nightgowns, matching red backpacks and big insect cushions. That strikes me as the “girlish” part. And there’s also a bit of “hardcore” in a highly memorable pancake griddle scene (I won’t spoil it by giving too much detail) and the burlesque-style cigarette dance at the end. But this isn’t a show that fits tidily into any definition, and Shirotama Hitsujiya’s artist statement in the program, though it answers questions, reads like something’s been lost in translation.
I instinctively liked these performers, and I like that they use non-traditional spaces to perform in (the TBA catalog gives warehouses, rooftop tennis courts and strip clubs as examples). All in all, I recommend the show, even if I’m still scratching my head about it. Go check it out and blog your interpretation — I’d love to hear what others thought.
posted by Laura Moulton
Two shows left: Saturday 9/9 at 7 p.m. and Sunday 9/10 at 2 p.m. Artists Rep Theatre, 2nd Stage
First there was the Extreme Guitar Orchestra:
Then, the parade:
All TBAs should have a procession. Brilliant. My favorite part of the parade was how unannounced it was—it just consumed the city traffic in its path, enveloping unsuspecting drivers first with a hipster marching band, then with dancing people in circus outfits, then with a pack of civilians walking their bikes, then with a 50ish marching band playing Louie Louie and other hits, followed by another group of slightly older civilians walking Scottie dogs and singing along. At the end of all this was a mass of blocked bike commuters now walking their bikes and Subaru drivers looking totally mystified. With no police escort and no traffic blocks volunteers stepped into green lights and held up traffic—but the whole time there was only one honk in protest. So Portland. The parade grew by consuming the unsuspecting commuters—and they became a part of the celebration for that brief moment. My favorite scene is this: the #15 bus somehow managed to wedge itself n between the two marching bands, which seemed entirely fitting since the #15 is my favorite Portland bus route, and there it stayed crawling slowly along for five blocks until it could turn.
As the parade reached the Hawthorne Bridge the cops finally arrived to block traffic. In the few minutes I was standing there six different parties stopped me to ask what was going on. I asked several, “did you know about PICA before this?” and all answered no. “Will you go to any TBA events now?” I asked, and one woman emphatically smiled “yes!!” Another women said “oh darn, I thought it was political, I wanted to get in on it.”
“Well,” I said, “you could get in on some time based art!” to which she responded with a smile, “maybe I will!”
Then I hustled down to the waterfront for Float. It was getting dark, and I was downriver from the bridge, so I could hardly see the floating sculpture. “It looks like a water skater,” remarked a man with his wife and teenager. And indeed it did. A space water skater. I could see the mini fleet of colorful kayaks, but the silver float itself was difficult to discern against the water. “Do you think he’s gonna make it?” a 40ish woman asks, with some concern. And then we waited, and waited, and waited. Two men, apparently close to the artist or at least familiar with TBA began to get bored. “Have him set his hair on fire or something,” one remarked. “He did, it wasn’t enough!” the other cried. Finally, faintly, we could hear some indistinguishable words. A PNCA student remarked, “it’s what everyone’s been talking about…I guess I just expected it to be bigger, more fanfare.” At one point a small cruise ship approached dead-on at high speed, and there were gasps from the audience and what looked like some frantic interception paddling from the kayakers. Then the ship stopped, and slowly circled, like an interested dog. A full, orange moon rose over Mt. Tabor.
I proceeded to the bridge to hear what was emitting from the float. Twenty or so kayaks with headlamps tended to float, while faint poetry was spoken through four giant megaphones protruding from the top of the space capsule-like structure. “Shanghai’d loves lost at sea” I heard, then, “yo ho, hold me close.” This generated giggles from the crowd. Honestly, it was just too dark, and the bridge was too far away, for me to see or hear anything properly. I wanted to be one of the people in a kayak. “He’s reciting Walt Whitman” someone in the crowd remarked, though I couldn’t be sure.
Freelance writer, enthusiast
When I first walked into the concrete floored laboratory Of All the People in the World, I felt I had walked into the underground warehouse of a top secret statistical analysis agency. Strewn across the floor, piles of rice on white papers visually represented people and events. The world’s prison population was piled next to people living in gated communities in the US (approximately equal in number). All the women in the senate ever was daintily scattered next to millionaires in the senate (the millionaires outnumbering the women).
One scientist in a brown labcoat brushed dust off the papers, while others stood behind a counter, busying themselves with calculations. My first impression was that it was a theatrical performance. Actors were playing the characters of statisticians, looking official in order to convince the audience of their authenticity.
As I continued around the room, I encountered a pile of rice with no label. A brisk statistician approached with a glue stick in one hand, and the label in the other. “Here it is,” she said, smiling, and glued it down. We discussed the Cuban population of Florida 2006 (about 1 million) compared to the population of Florida (about 17 million) and the significance of how many Cubans who emigrated to the U.S.A. 1961-1970 have stayed. “I think it’s an interesting comparison,” she said, and left to measure more rice.
It struck me then, that this performance transcends the level of ordinary theater. There is no fourth wall here. There is no need for the performers to create distance from the audience, or to have a false persona of officiality. They are doing meaningful work. The science is real, and the art is in the presentation.
posted by amber bell
warning: this following review contains spoilers if you are intending on viewing this performance:
I attended last nights opening performance of Philippe Quesne’s “The Itching of the Wings” at Lincoln Hall and will come up honest and say I was not impressed with what I saw. The show did open on an engaging note, fading in on one man casually reciting book titles in a soothing voice to pleasantly set the mood and tone of the show, however after about the first fifteen minutes the whole lot of the performance quietly faded out into a snooze-fest. After book-title-reciting-man got us in the audience relaxed in our seats, we were introduced to his wild-haired partner who would become the only other redeeming voice in the show. Imagine a quirky French Woody-Allen, circa say 1973′s Sleeper, dancing around on stage in an apparatus designed to project a wireframe image of his movements onto a wall. It was funny, I will admit, and I did enjoy laughing out loud watching his silly antics and contortions as he rolled around on the floor in an exhausting effort to gain lift from the stage, but this like just about everything else in the performance sadly did tend to grow old after awhile and I found myself impatiently waiting for the next act to begin… The inherent flaw in “The Itching of the Wings” is the authors lack of intent to guide my attention around the stage to focus in on specific parts of the performance that would better help me understand the point of the story unfolding in front of me. While the audio environment did indeed help this on some occasions, the production would have greatly benefited from the employment of a lighting engineer to cast our attention around the show. In short, there was way too much arbitrary and distracting movement on stage, e.g. people randomly milling around for no certain purpose what-so-ever, such as the following:
- dude with the faux hawk whose only purpose was to sit in different chairs reading magazines
- guy in birdman costume who kept coming out onto the stage to put on and take off the same set of clothes.
- some other guy who kept coming into the glass room to move furniture around
The best thing about this performance was the print campaign that falsely advertised the show. Yes, you know what I am talking about. That is, that clever image of the guy in a feather suit standing in front of a studio microphone, [you know, the one that's been advertised all over Portland for about a month now]. So where was this feathered man of fowl at our show?? Far from the center of attraction I will sadly inform you. You see, advertising does create audience expectations. I came here to see the birdman, front and center. If you are to put a firearm on the mantle my Dear Watson, it best be going off by the time I need to use the loo… [not while the credits are rolling lol!]
Well, I guess in the end they DID have a fog-machine… and as soon as you do ANYTHING in French it’s bound to sound artsy and cool right?
’til next time:
Posted by Storm Tharp
Yesterday, was so full of amazing things.
It may have been one of the best days of the year.
Who has been to the Visual Arts Exhibit at Corberry Press? INCREDIBLE!!
The opening reception begins at 4:00 today. If you can attend, please do.
It has already begun. Im late.
The collection of work is so strong that I cannot begin to to understand its meaning and effect without one or two more visits. I can express however, that it is the kind of dark and political show that I have been anticipating for what, 4 years? At least.
It has taken a while to find out how to say (what we need to) about how the world is behaving and what it means to live conscientiously. And what it means to live with and without spirit. Or not? The impulses in this exhibit seem to have known immediately what to do. The program did not need gestation. It just has taken this long to bring it to Portland. And for this I am so grateful.
(More on this later.)
As I was leaving the show, I encountered THE BIO FEEDBACK MACHINE and the TEMPLE of a HIGHER SOMETHING. Its a large environment parked outside of the back entrances of Corberry Press. I was skeptical – so I waited before I went in. Im happy that I did. The gut of that space is harsh and funny and exhilerating. I thought to myself – “am I going to die in here?” And kind of hoping that I would. As I moved through the accumulation I found some gross knick knackable sewage that I kind of hated and then looked up and started taking in the cosmic bankruptcy written on the wall. I paused on the words: “HIGHER SOMETHING.” – and I really started to love that space. As I walked away from the parking lot and the building I witnessed a young man crying on the sidewalk – and It didnt really surprise me.
There was a full-moon- simultaneity to what was going on yesterday. Not scientifically cosmic, but none the less, it did feel that way. And showed no signs of restraint as Laurie Anderson picked up where the crying boy left off and proceeded to blow my mind. There is little that I can say. It was accessible and yet quite profound. She tapped into much of the same territory that you felt at Corberry Press – with Harrell, and Kristan, and the fellows from Germany and Marina Abramovic and Matt Jackson. I was again witness to a rigorously crafted world reflecting the spirit of the individual while projecting outwardly into unknown and universal areas of beauty, war, power, asymmetry, patience, transcendence and in the case of Laurie Anderson – the moon.
It was awesome. – ST
“Put your government name on the top of the paper,” he says. Below that he asks us to put our date of birth and below that, today’s date. This is how it begins. This is the story of your life, laid out in a list: 20 Important Things That Changed My Life. I cheat a little and start with “birth.”
Steven Sapp, from the poetry/ theatre ensemble Universes, is leading us through the process he has done many times with his own group. He asks, before we begin, that we not bullshit as we write. We don’t.
Things that change your life can be painful, can be gut wrenching, can be pleasurable, frightening. We pick one and write a haikut. Each of us, 27 in all, read our haikus. No, we are not bullshitting. We are talking about orgasms and divorce and ghosts and the people inside of us and (oddly enough) cats.
“Now,” says Steven “Take that haiku and write a full piece.” We have five minutes.
We write, and as we go around the circle, reading our work aloud there are murmurs and smiles. The young man beside me starts his piece and bursts into loud and frantic Spanish, a young woman coaxes laughs with her thoughts on Brilliance, Max Roach explains drumming, a little girl finds the theatre, a cat dies and my parents divorce.
But how would one pull a performance from such a wide variety of experience and voice? Steve asks for someone’s favorite song. A man replies “Body and Soul.” He is asked to give us the melody, which he does. Then, Steve points to a woman and says, “Read your piece.” She begins. A minute later he asks me to add mine and the woman and I trade lines back in forth- “Body and Soul” being hummed softly in the background. Soon we are finding correlations, one line leads to another, augments, contrast- and it works. Strangely, it does work.
The time is up. Steve encourages our creativity and thanks us for not bullshitting. I’d like to thank him for the inspiration.
Universes will be performing tonight at the Works. I’ve seen the process and I can’t wait to see the result.
posted by P.A. Coleman
Softly glowing, solitary and set in a field of burning stars. We are weightless with Laurie Anderson. Like the Moon, she instills in us mystery and love and sadness and fear. Here in the dark we watch her move. She pulls us forward like a tide of human flesh. The glow that is cast leaves us pale and ghostly, grinning at each other as we exit the theatre- The real moon up there, so big, just now rising. You can’t help but look at it. “It’s the only one we have.”
Posted by P.A. Coleman
photo credit: Serena Davidson
“First up I’m English, so I have to apologize. I’m sorry for having to apologize but I can’t help it, it’s in my blood and my upbringing, I have been gifted with the extraordinary ability to be impossibly arrogant AND spend all my time apologizing.”
So began Stan’s Cafe Artistic Director James Yarker’s charming but scattershot lecture, Why be a professional artist? This hour-long speech combined practical guidance for aspiring art professionals with a brief history of Stan’s Cafe, while simultaneously satirizing the conventions of motivational speaking and affirming that a career as a professional artist is difficult but not impossible. Yarker originally created Why be a professional artist? for the graduating class of London’s Brunel University and he seemed to be aware that the TBA-specific version of the lecture could use a little finessing, commenting that, “On this occasion I am apologizing because I suspect this lecture may have got lost mid-Atlantic.”
Why be a professional artist? was most useful in providing background and context for Stan’s Cafe’s thoroughly engaging installation, Of All The People In All The World, in which statistical data is illustrated using grains of rice, one per person. Statistics are grouped together based on relationships both obvious (U.S. troops in Iraq with the population of Baghdad) and whimsical (number of people who eat at McDonald’s worldwide in the course of one day with the largest gathering of clowns ever). Individual grains of rice are used to represent influential individuals such as Rosa Parks, Condoleeza Rice (ha!) and Nikita Krushchev, while giant mounds represent such superorganisms as yesterday’s McDonald’s customers or the very slightly larger population of Spain.
photo credit: Serena Davidson
Rice symbolizes humanity effectively because it can be formed into homogenous mounds while individual grains are still clearly visible. Spelled out in rice, the world’s prison population juxtaposed with the equally large number of Americans living in gated communities has a visceral impact that printed numbers can’t begin to equal. After seeing the victims of the Holocaust, the number of people who died as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima and the number of people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa spelled out in rice, I steeled myself and approached the longest mound, fully expecting that the explanatory text would transform this pile of rice into the displaced dirt of yet another mass grave. But Stan’s Cafe was merciful. The statistic was shocking but funny and somehow comforting, illustrating exactly how much people “want to go where people know people are all the same.”
photo credit: Serena Davidson
Of All The People In All The World will evolve continuously throughout its run (Sept. 7 – Sept. 17). The smartly outfitted staff of Stan’s Cafe (pronounced kaff) are present throughout the installation and are open to suggestions for new statistics.
photo credit: Serena Davidson
See more here: Photography by Serena Davidson
The first full day of T:BA was an interesting and educational one.
It began with some ‘behind-the-scenes’ words from Mark and Kristan as they talked about the process of forming the T:BA festival within the context of both the Pacific Northwest and the international art world. Most of the conversation was quite informal, and was opened up to the participants to ask questions, and discuss ideas of forming and interaction.
From here, over to EcoTrust, to be diverted back to the Corberry Press building.
In the Corberry Press is an exhibition of photographs from Vietnam captured by Harrell Fletcher and a number of playful referential sculptures by Matthew Day Jackson. Isaac Peterson was in the space teaching an Art Appreciation 101 class, which a number of the people new to art were greatly appreciating.
3pm, back to PNCA for Stan’s Kaf [of the sausage, not biscotti type].
James Yarker, of Stan’s Cafe gave a wonderful, caveat-filled, talk about the process of planning and becoming a professional artist. I think his Father Pete would be proud!
I bit of a break, and off for some yummy thai food over on N.E. Alberta at Thai Noon.
Then, back downtown to try and find parking amidst the construction and temporarily closed meters around the PCPA.
Laurie Anderson kicked off the first of the performances last evening.
I have been looking forward to her show for months, and it was all LAURIE!
Perhaps it is her sexy voice, the way that she can leave a word hanging in the air for minutes, and playful reverberations of her amplified violin… but I just LOVE LAURIE!
Her performance was a bit more minimal then the techno raptures that I have seen her compose in the past, but it is heart felt and enveloping. The crowd laughed, roared and winced with each narrative cue. Her work can be appreciated from the pure beauty of sound through the depth of its socio-political perspective. At 59, all 63-inches of her are still kicking the butt of most 20-something artists out there!
For me, the evening ended with Vivarium Studio.
I had full intention of heading to the Works, but the slow pace of the show, lulled me and a few of my friends right off to sleep. Strangely though, amidst all of the random events of the show, I did start to feel hope that one of them might really begin to form some type of flight… but the show just never really got off of the ground.
Rested, and ready to start another full day of T:BA!
Architect | Sculptor | Advocate
There’s a song by local faves, The Helio Sequence, “Everyone Knows Everyone,” which riffs on the commonly-heard refrain about Portland’s size and the insularity of its locals. While it’s hard to cover any ground in Portland without seeing people you recognize, its also easy to get lonely sometimes when your closest friends are out of town and can’t make it out to events with you, leaving you feeling like everyone else knows everyone else. Just attending the last few nights of TBA, however, has reminded me about the best aspects of Portland’s tight-knit, some people might say incestual social circles.
Though this is only the second TBA I’ve been able to attend (and last year I only had one glorious, frenetic weekend) everywhere I go I keep bumping into friends from last year, from past jobs, from other PICA events, and from the broader art world. Whether it meant seeing a former volunteer buddy at TBA central or I running into a woman who I sat across from last year at the Ripe dinner, who’d never been to a PICA event and got so excited about it all that she bought a full pass for this year, I keep leaving events glad that I came alone and free to reconnect with other festival-goers. And each night, I end up with a few more good conversations had and a few more festival plans to meet up with old friends at the next show.
posted by patrick leonard
On Thursday night hordes of people followed the marching band through the streets to the Hawthorne bridge and stood there, waiting for the art that was promised. The evening darkened, lights from cars flashed by on the Marquam bridge, the moon rose. We squinted up the river, looking for the art. David Eckard was going to float from somewhere and do some type of performance in some location near us. A few Coast Guard boats trolled around, as well as a bunch of kayaks. Was that part of the performance? Bells went off, and the bridge was raised to send a sailboat by. Was that part of the art? A lunking tourboat bumbled its way past us, glittering with light. Was that the art?
Finally a strange watercraft bobbed up from the distance, vaguely lit. The kayaks gathered and paddled formations around the vessel. Distant sound emitted from the craft. Every so often, we could catch a phrase or two from the bridge. This must be the art.
This and other photos from TBA opening night: Serena Davidson Photography
The air turned colder, and the sky darker. We peered at the water, waiting for a crescendo. A rumour spread through the dwindling crowd that fire was supposed to be part of the performance. We hung there in suspense, anticipating the bright and stunning finale. It did not come. Cold and irritated, we went off to look for more art.
posted by amber bell
By Storm Tharp
There was a moment while listening to Jon King and the Extreme Guitar
Orchestra that a stylistic reminiscence overcame my already transfixed
mind. It has to do with how certain kinds of music sound like where
they come from. In very simplistic terms: how I associate country
music with cowboy boots or Billie Holiday with photographs of her
singing in dimly lit rooms, and the album “De Ja Vu” with the canyons
of Los Angeles, where I have rarely traveled – but somehow know.
With John King, I would wander out of the meditative state and found
myself thinking about Kim Gordon and Laurie Anderson. Other times I
found myself thinking about the titles in “Koyaanisqatsi” and what
those things have in common. But in that one moment that I first
mentioned, the music became more clear, and I devoted my attention.
With my eyes opened but blurred, I began to think about everybody in
that square. And with each multiple chord and repitition, I found
that the music was in fact about us – about last night. And about
every single brick that we sat upon and the dirt that those bricks sat
upon – and I found myself very lost and contented by this notion.
The 1st day sagged, but I stand renewed.
Um….(awkward) am I the first blogger to point out that David’s “float” completely failed on the fire tip? My first witness to TBA was the extreme guitar performance. I loved the idea, but the execution left a bit to be desired. It seemed to my ears that the performance was intentionally dissonant, but maybe the players just weren’t doing well, it’s hard to tell. My crew and I were excited about “float”, so we decided to go in advance and hang by the river. We had a great time hanging out, but I have to say, float was a disappointment. The structure appeared late, and so it was too dark to get a clear image, and also it completely failed to produce fire. Am I putting too much emphasis on fire? Can you ever put enough? Also, the viewing platform (busy bridge) made hearing the content of his speech all but impossible. The consensus of those around me seemed to be that of a let down, which is sad considering it was the big kick-off for TBA.
So I left yesterday feeling underwhelmed (except for scoring 175,000 points at the installation in Portland Art Center, seriously, if you can beat that, pick up the gauntlet…)
But last night. LAURIE!!! I won’t give anything away so I won’t have a lot of details, but the simplicity and elegance of this woman’s performance will stun you. I left bewildered, trying to sort out and keep all of the awesome! Laurie Anderson has renewed me in the best way, and I am full of love and faith… and 175,000 points.
Vivarium: An indoor enclosure where small animals and plants are raised and observed under natural conditions.
As the audience filed into the theater, we briefly became the small animals being observed (I won’t say too much here — go see the show). Quesne likes the word “vivarium” because it “implies an artificial setting — the theater — wherein the recreation of a ‘natural’ order takes place.” And mixing up this natural order results in a new context in which anything can happen. So for a moment, it was a mixture of actors, audience members, a table of odds and ends, a mattress on the floor in one corner with a man lounging on it, and so on. Add to that a philosopher discussing Plato’s Phaedrus (when love arises, wings grow), a dentist whose passion is constructing winged creatures, projections of various kinds of flight, (both literal and figurative–all entertaining to watch, and some of them lovely), a tai chi practitioner who’s given up drugs, and a guest appearance by Portland’s own punk band, Worms, and you start to get an idea of Quesne’s complex and compelling “The Itching of the Wings.”
Part self-conscious meditation, part tongue-in-cheek presentation, Quesne’s piece is a rich study that utilizes video and audio clips (bird sounds, anyone?), interviews with interesting characters, great stories told by the actors, a flying skeleton and a birdman in a feather suit who dances a jaunty jig. Hard to resist. Especially since it manages to be a dense, layered work of substance without taking itself too seriously. Elements of the show (like disparate voices and parts merging into a common narrative, compelling story-telling, etc.) reminded me of last year’s Lone Twin show. Don’t miss “The Itching of the Wings.”
posted by L. Moulton
Shows run Saturday 9/9 and Sunday 9/10: Portland State University, Lincoln Hall, 9 p.m.
In high school English class I thought I understood poetry: cleverly hiding what you really mean.
Now, instead, what I want is art that that offers meaning with blunt clarity.
What changed was my understanding of metaphor.
Without any metaphor we have just the facts of the world, which are as blunt as you can get. But on their own these everyday facts just stream by without giving us pause. The performance at PNCA by Stan’s Cafe takes the most boring kinds of facts, population statistics, and makes people notice and care.
They pull this off using the simplest devices; open-ended combinations of facts, and rice. This performance is a successful experiment in pushing the level of metaphor as low as it can go. The result is a point where ordinary life and metaphor are at their most potent.
posted by Publicwondering
At one point, as the drum corps rolled into the Works while I watched the people in white slowly (slowly) make their butoh was across the courtyard, I thought- Why can’t every day of my life be like this? The answer is because it is Time Based Art and in ten days it will be gone, leaving behind a white-hot ember of inspiration.
photo: Serena Davidson
There is something about the first day that is simply perfect. For instance, at the visual art criticism workshop, Isaac Peterson reminds us that art is the act of one human being communicating to another human being. The important part is to be able to make that personal human connection and work deeper into the piece as you see fit. He tells us repeatedly that our own perspective is the most important. Not something you often hear in reference to art criticism. Perfect.
Then, suddenly among hundreds of people in my living room, John King leads a large group of electric guitarists through the shifting “Aurora.” There are moments of dissonance, moments of harmony, moments when harmonics ping through the ensemble like a piano being plucked, driving moments when the audience nods it’s head to a hard rhythm that comes from nowhere. Later, Randy Bemrose- one of the guitarists and a member of Junkface- tells me that the composition sounded the way it did because the guitarists were given several options in the score to play when and where they liked. Sonic alchemy. Perfect.
And I’ve never seen the bridge like this- Hundreds of people lined along it, looking south. Waiting. Soon it’s there, like a tremendous water skipper, David Eckard riding atop the thing.
photo: Serena Davidson
“I carve a notch into my wooden leg for every sailor who broke my heart.” he says from his gilded megaphones.
photo: Serena Davidson
Somehow the rumor has spread that he was planning on lighting himself on fire. He doesn’t. But after the disappointment that nothing was aflame and seeing onlookers silhouetted against the river in the evening light- the bizarre “Float” passing by- there was a sense of perfection.
photo: Serena Davidson
Then as I soak in the madness and beauty of our community, I wonder- Why can’t every day be as perfect as this?
Posted by P.A. Coleman
To see more photos click here: Serena Davidson Photography Blog
Formal Analysis and Emotional Reaction
One of the quieter Thursday events that began TBA was an art criticism workshop led by Isaac Peterson, stalwart blogger/writer for Port. This was the first time I’d met Isaac, who moved to Portland a year ago and began teaching art history at PNCA, and he seemed a human embodiment of his Port writing—enthusiastic, tangential, opinionated and wordy. Isaac was the first to admit to the twenty-odd audience members that his writing typically inspires impassioned letters of refute. He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head over the state of his prose. His is but one opinion in a town with too few art critics (mostly male, at that) who receive a large amount of backlash.
That noted, Isaac’s workshop framed some important questions which arise in the midst of an art whirlwind. What do we make of a performance or installation? After nights of sensory stimulation, how do we begin to piece together the larger picture?
Isaac paced the room and flipped through slides of DaVinci, Caravaggio and Gentileschi, pointing out mistaken scholarship (the Mona Lisa was a vampire), feminist versus sensualist Baroque interpretations and other culturally driven readings of work. He suggested that since meaning changes with time, begin interpreting a piece using personal experience or inserting yourself into the work. As the audience queried him about the technique of approaching art (as if it was some wild animal being observed along the river banks!) it became clear that there’s no wrong way to begin.
“Art is the process by which the individual becomes re-sensitized,” Isaac said. Agreed, as long as we pay particular attention to the technique the artist is using and how that deliberately manipulates us as an audience. A collection of guitars in a public square. A drum corps. A parade that collects passers-by as it winds through downtown, a tedious floating poem pulled forward by a power boat. Unique pieces onto themselves, but part of a greater picture.
Isaac Peterson concludes his two-day workshop today with group critiques of Matthew Day Jackson’s Paradise Now, to be included on the TBA Blog.
How Do You Know Your Reverse Lights Are Working?
Brad Adkins was planning to show us how to make our fingers disappear. But as he was waiting for the bus, he saw something that changed his mind. A lone woman drove up to the stop sign, shifted into reverse and backed down the street. Van Halen blared through her open windows: “Runnin’ from the devil … runnin’ from the devil …” At 2:00, four of us gathered at TBA Central to recreate that moment: Brad, Brian Libby (on assignment for The Oregonian), Ann Hutchins (my mother, visiting from Florida), and myself. We walked to the only car at our disposal, my husband’s BMW, which was parked in front of the old funeral home on the other side of 405. I took the drivers seat while Brad, Brian and Mom buckled up (at my request) and slumped down in their seats (at Brad’s request) to simulate the passenger-less car he’d seen in the morning. While I backed the car down the empty block, Brian sang the Van Halen song along with his iPOD. The rest of us joined in on the refrain. When I saw a car approaching in the rear view mirror, I pulled over to the curb. A Volvo stopped alongside us, and the driver rolled down his window. “Did you know you don’t have any reverse lights?”
I have to say, the excitement of standing on the Hawthorne bridge packed with people chattering and peering into the dim distance and waiting, waiting for some art to float down the river was probably my favorite part of last night’s TBA festivities. Well, that and the sound of Mark Russell yelling, “Hit it!” (or something to that effect) as a rag-tag crowd of TBA devotees followed the cadence of the Last Regiment Syncopated Drummers’ truly kick ass beat through downtown and over the river. My heart thrills to the sight and sound of a marching band leading a parade, but usually parades are either sad bedraggled processions or insufferable bombardments of the cute and the cheerful… this, my friends, was a parade in the service of art, and the excitement was palpable as we danced and stumbled through downtown streets, as cars stopped and PICA volunteers dashed madly to and fro to make sure they stopped.
With all that anticipation, maybe it’s inevitable that the moment when Float arrived was a bit of an anticlimax. We watched and waited for something to happen as the bridge was raised, as a face-off between Float and a large boat filled with curious people (and at least one man with binoculars who was looking, tellingly, at the people on the bridge and not at the floating sculpture) seemed inevitable. For one fleeting moment I thought the boat was part of the performance, and would begin to shoot cannons of neon confetti at David Eckard as a declaration of war… but alas, the Prancing Dolphin or whatever it was called was what it appeared to be.
I couldn’t help thinking how incredible it would have been if the promise of David Eckard’s floating spectacle had paid off: if streams of fire had leapt from the sides, if music and a strange voice reciting Walt Whitman had boomed and echoed from the speakers, instead of trickling to our straining ears, and if each canoe was equipped with a Vegas-style showgirl, as the canoes themselves performed a choreographed canoe-dance routine. But I know how easy it is to make suggestions, and how hard it is to execute them, so I’ll just applaud the idea and applaud PICA for kicking TBA off with a spirit of celebration and anticipation. No one seemed disappointed as we made our way down from the bridge and over to the Works. It was a beautiful night, and for the first time since last year’s TBA I felt like I was in a city filled with artists and thinkers and dreamers (our state motto in action: thanks, PICA!) all eager to take in what TBA offers and talk about it afterwards over a beer and some slow motion butoh.
- Faith Helma
posted by laurabecker
last year i chose not to attend tba’s opening night festivities for the simple reason “i don’t do crowds”. then the next day and every day since then i’ve been kicking myself for not going. i could just tell who had gone and who hadn’t. some kind of metaphorical peace pipe had been passed around that night and everyone who was there stayed in that state for the festival. i could tell who was in that state, and i cursed that i wasn’t. as kirsten mentions, it must’ve been pretty extreme.
so, this year, i took a deep breath and dove in. i drove my car underneath the east side of the hawthorne bridge, took a quick jaunt over to pioneer square and rolled in just as victoria, mayor potter, and mark russell said their words. the square wasn’t THAT full, and i ran into a buddy, so my phobia wasn’t even an issue. then john king and his guitar orchestra took center stage. kirsten’s comments pretty much describe the same impression i had. but what i also enjoyed was looking at each guitarist enjoy what they were playing, even if it wasn’t their taste, especially some of those young guys that you can tell just love to rock it to the “extreme” sometimes. they were the ones literally rocking, back and forth, with john, to the beat. a beat that i’m sure not everyone in that crowd could hear. i mean, avant garde guitar is an acquired taste. if i hadn’t been on a steady diet of sonic youth for the past fifteen years or so, i might not be able to feel that beat and rock back and forth to it either. but even though not everyone in the square may have found the melody in the music, they all clapped during and at the end – the audience sincerely applauded the show.
and then there were the drummers. oh those drummers. mmm….those drummers and their beat. you sure couldn’t miss that beat and seriously, when they start and just keep going, everyone follows them, you just can’t not follow them (someone said to me last night they are just like the pied piper) and seriously, it’s like they give out happy pills to everyone around them. (oh hey, this year’s “peace pipe”!)
– but what are they leading us all too? what is everyone looking at in the water? why is that thing going so slow? are they raising the bridge? but what is he gonna “do”??? –
that’s what you could hear standing on the hawthorne bridge as david eckard somberly floated towards us. he was a beacon to the boats in the water, orating from his pulpit. his last words -
“how far do i have to go before i am truly on my way back home”
but no time to be sad people! cue the drums! lead us to the secret late-night haven of the works, where we will discuss what we’ve seen with strangers like they were old friends. where we will remember that tba has no room for rules or expectations. cause only when you let go of expectations, only when you let it all sway you, only then can you truly hear the beat.
ps – i seriously thought about titling this post “guitarrific”
posted by laurabecker
but, last night’s activity wasn’t MY opening to TBA.
my opening occurred around 3pm yesterday when i went downstairs to get the mail at work (in the w+k building) and discovered a girl sitting at a computer talking to the screen and laughing.
she finished what she was doing, took a drawing she had created and thumb tacked it to the wall, and i sat down and took her place.
“hey” the girl on the computer screen said.
“hey” i replied
and then she drew my portrait. from her desk in her studio in oakland, ca. and we chatted as i tried not to move and i loved it.
she sent my portrait through her fax machine, where it went to pica’s offices, and then she said “how do you want me?”
“what?” i replied
“how do you want me for your portrait of me” she repeated.
“see the paper and pencils there – now it’s your turn, you have to draw me”
“OOhhh I see. cool” except not really cool since I can’t draw at all, but that’s not the point, obviously. I loved it. there I was doing what she had just done – looking at her, looking down, shading, shaping, erasing, drawing again. i wasn’t even that disappointed with the results. i gave her a quick peek at my attempt and she laughed and seemed to like it. then i thumb tacked it to the wall and went upstairs to open the mail.
that was it, no huge epiphany or big bang, just two girls drawing each other from two different states.
so, even though i totally planned on the big bang opening, things just don’t always turn out how you expect. and that’s what makes it better.
We arrived just a bit early, the distant sounds of the LRSD drum corps bleeding from atop the Hawthorne bridge as we dodged through the alleys and side-streets of the eastside industrial district. Sliding past the machine shops and loading bays, surplus furniture warehouses and design firms, the pounding beat was hot on our tails, urging us on to the blue-flooded underbelly of Portland’s oldest bridge. Welcome to The Works @ AudioCinema.
While it probably doesn’t top last year’s Boora-designed scaffolding-and-orange-construction-fencing complex, this year’s Works provides an oh-so-Portland experience: park your bike, grab a local microbrew, find your friends, and then hang out under a bridge to watch some performance art. In this case, it was the measured kinesthetics of Portland’s Slomo as they emerged from the AudioCinema warehouse.
Inside, the air was hot and thick, hazy with the after effects of an overzealous smoke machine operator. It was Brede Rørstad’s turn to take the TBA stage, conducting his Music Population Orchestra through three pieces: “Five Remixes of a Forgotten Theme,” “Here We Are in the Stone Age,” and “Confidently Unsure.” Brede has been bringing chamber music to the streets of Portland over the last year, leading the MPO in various incarnations. He pulled out all the stops for Thursday night’s performance, crowding a Polyphonic Spree-like gaggle of musicians onto the tiny stage. For me, the highlight of the night was undoubtedly the third part of “Confidently Unsure,” featuring Alphonse Swinehart’s human beatboxing and Camelia Nine’s mighty soprano alongside the full orchestra.
If you didn’t make it for the opening night of TBA, the MPO will be playing at Lewis & Clark’s Evans Auditorium on September 14th. You’ve got no excuse to miss it.
While John King created a nice atmosphere in Pioneer Square tonight, it was hard to find the “Extreme” in Extreme Guitar Orchestra, especially given the bar for extremity set by STREB in last year’s public opening performance. As it turns out, thirty-five guitarists don’t actually take up that much space, or sound that much more impressive than say, five or six guitarists. The musicians, dressed in plain clothes, blended nicely with the audience seated around them. At any given moment, it seemed likely a group of bystanders (or by-sitters) might whip out their guitars and join in. They didn’t. Were this an unadvertised stunt it might have worked better. The music filling the square felt natural, like it should always be a backdrop for the last days of summer. The performance didn’t demand my full attention, and as I drifted in and out of conversation, the guitarists just kept on strumming. Nice, but not the spectacular kick-off I’ve learned to expect from TBA.
But then! Bum-bum…bum-bum…bum-da-ba-da-bum-bum! The Last Regiment Syncopated Drummers burst through the doors of the Visitors Center underneath Starbucks, and lead the delightfully surprised crowd through downtown streets, and over the Hawthorne Bridge. LRSD is one bad-ass drum corps! And that was just the beginning! As LRSD started the movement out of the square, they were followed-up by the Get A Life Marching Band, a group of “High stepping, out of shape” adults (many seniors) decked-out with glowstick batons, gold sequined leg warmers, matching shirts with slogans on the back such as, “I’m in shape—round!” and everything you would ever want in a marching band. Golden oldies have never sounded so good.
As we approached the bridge I was struck with an invigorating and strange sensation. A sensation I had never quite felt before, and that came from marching in support of something being created. Rather than marching in protest and in insistence that actions be stopped, we were demonstrating the creation of art. We were demonstrating community. We were demonstrating joy. We followed the drumming because it was the easiest thing to do. We marched politely, and without litter or vulgar signage. We disrupted traffic and took over the south side of the bridge, but drivers were more confused than irritated. I saw a police officer smiling at us.
We paused on the bridge in anticipation of David Eckard’s floating approach. Though his water-bug craft was impressive and the lights from his canoeing escorts beautiful as the sun set, it was unfortunately impossible to hear what was coming out of his signature megaphones. His act of speaking to the crowd, though, did add to the demonstration flavor of the parade. (Later that night as I was biking home along the East Bank Esplanade, I was passed by a biker adorned with several blinky lights and–no joke–an oar sticking out of his pannier. I’m not completely sure what to make of that, but it instantly made Float much more appealing.)
The best part of the parade came as the bands started up again and wound down the east side underneath the mess of bridges to the industrial streets along the waterfront. Underneath the bridge was one giant shower for the drums to sing in. It was loud enough to set off a series of Audi car alarms as we passed.
As we finally approached the WORKS, a few people in the crowd around me finally wondered aloud, “what’s this all about?”
“It’s an art thing or something,” someone else responded. “And there’s a free party inside. Come on.”
Yes, PICA does still know how to get a party started.
posted by: Kirsten Collins
Before this year’s TBA kicked off with a blustery strum from John King’s guitar, Guest Artistic Director Mark Russell said a few words about the importance of bridges in this years festival. For the rest of the evening, his words seemed to have a particular resonance with the events selected. In King’s Extreme Guitar Orchestra, it was clear that part of this bridging, in fact, most of it, occurs within the performers and audiences. Just scanning the thirty-odd performers on the steps of the square, you saw delegates from more age groups, musical tastes, and styles than you would see at any other Portland event. Eckard’s poetic diatribe attempted to bridge the opposing banks of the Willamette with language and history. And the parade across the bridge, well, bridged the two sides of the river, finally bringing the active art scene of the Eastside into the fold. But the connectivity that TBA brings does not just end by crossing the rivers – the excitement surrounding this festival extends even to the westside suburbs. House-sitting for family near Beaverton hasn’t only meant an extra long haul to get in to the events, it has also meant that I’ve seen TBA posters gracing suburban libraries and grocery stores. This is the entire city’s event, and that city includes a lot of people who all are pretty stoked about the chance to overwhelm themselves with ten days of performance.
posted by patrick leonard
Portlanders, you know, bridging stuff …
The opening night has set a lovely tempo for this year’s T:BA festival.
Victoria, Tom and Mark said a few words, and then the festivities were kicked off with a wonderfully amplified horde of guitars orchestrated by John King. When the piece began, I was expecting something of the Knitting Factory variety, that random Portlanders would be musically sparring against each other… but the music followed a strong cadence set by the composer. Something that the very diverse crowd attending a free public event could appreciate.
Kicking up the tempo, a handful of marching bands [sans March Fourth] drew the crowd to the Hawthorne bridge to await the slowly setting sun and the beginning of David Eckard’s somber call to the River. From the distance of the bridge above the waters, and the churning engine of a private yacht, it was difficult to appreciate the intricate and personal beauty typified in Eckard’s work. [Please take a look at his site, if you are not already familiar with his genius: http://www.davideckard.com He is an artist that you will want to spend more time in the future appreciating!] As David’s echoes to our collective societal conscious began to be heard upon the bridge, the Marching Bands unfortunately drew off the crowd to the awaiting liqueur; leaving about fifty of us on deck to appreciate the rest of his intent.
Within the WORKS, Music Population Orchestra created a scintillating flurry of sound; while the crowd prepared for ten days of excitement, or atleast waited for their name to be called out for the hamburger they ordered half an hour earlier… Luckily, SloMo [a Portland butoh troupe] was there to engage the crowd in the between space.
Mark stated that this year’s festival is dedicated to Portland, and tonight’s artistry certainly showed its Portland roots with strength and beauty!
Look forward to seeing you at all of the events in the next few days…
Architect | Sculptor | Advocate
At first there are just a few people on the Hawthorne Bridge, loitering here and there against the railing, looking off into the water below. There are plenty of boats: canoes, kayaks, and a green motorboat with “sheriff” stenciled on the side. But so far, no music-playing, artist-powered boat on blue barrels. I’m standing with my 2 1/2-year-old son, who has insisted on wearing his lion suit, when a man approaches and crouches down beside us. He tells us he’s an artist, that he doesn’t speak English very well, and he pets my son’s mane appreciatively. I see his PICA badge and ask when he’ll perform. He pages through my TBA catalog and stops at Vivarium Studio/Philippe Quesne. “Ziss one,” he says. “Ah,” I say, “are you Philippe Quesnes?”(referring to the artist described on page 21 in the catalog). “No,” he answers. “I am ziss man,” and points to the photo of a man covered completely in feathers. He kisses my son and then me tenderly on the tops of our heads and disappears into the crowd..
And that’s why I love the TBA festival. Right about the time Rudolphe Auté (aforementioned feathered artist) disappears, the March Fourth marching band arrives complete with shimmying Sissyboys in mini-skirts and platform boots, a geriatric dance team in sequins, twirling batons, and a whole lot of Portland people following along behind, feeling the energy. By the time David Eckard floats up on his installation/welded barrel boat/music-&-poetry-playing-barge, the moon is full and the bridges and cityscape are lit. What a perfect start to the Time-Based Art Festival.
posted by: L. Moulton
The Vivarium Studio/Philippe Quesne performances are: Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9 p.m. (PSU, Lincoln Hall).
My little copy of the TBA catalogue has become dog-eared from browsing and now lays open flat in some places. I carry it like a little prayer book to work and dinners, sticking purple tabs on the events of special interest. I leave it out where people will see it. I re-read passages.
This 188 page catalogue is serving me well; as a tactile type I love a hard copy. But to get down to the actual art of scheduling your appearances at shows, a yearly performance piece in itself, may I suggest the well-designed online PICA event page. http://pica.org/tba/tba06/default.aspx
A simple registration allows one to select events for their customized calendar, accessed by a line of dates headlining the page. This is a practical method for those who wish to be ubiquitous. The designers of this website seem to understand that visual people must organize themselves through visual means. Don’t overlook the “print my schedule” option to create your own future-frayed event book.
David Eckard’s “Float”
The wait’s almost over. It would be impossible to overstate how much I’ve been anticipating David Eckard’s piece “Float.” You should know by now that Eckard employs sometimes ultilitarian, sometimes baroque sculpture in performance that has components of work, duration, and lately text. But that will sound dry in comparison to the vision of Eckard in white coveralls atop his “Podium” that he’d wheeled into place, unfolded, set up (including hanging white swag) and mounted to deliver a quasi-populist-political speech (complete with politician-appropriate hand gestures) at various locations on the streets of Portland at TBA 04 (has it been that long?). When he finished, he’d fold it up and roll it quietly away. The Podium itself now stands in the Portland Art Museum as part of the 2006 Oregon Biennial.
For Gallery Homeland’s Scratching the Surface, Eckard recently constructed metal armature around his body lit with candles for his piece “Widow’s Walk,” performed on the Eastbank Esplanade. This sense of drama harkens back to his epic Tournament (lumens) performed (and installed) at Marylhurst University. And it’s this operatic sense of spectacle that Eckard evokes for “Float.” He’s created a fifteen-foot high, four-legged, floating platform adorned with lace and fire and wired for sound from which he’ll deliver a text-based performance as he floats down the Willamette River from the Hawthorne Bridge tomorrow (Thursday) evening at dusk (around 7:45 or 8).
You’ll kick yourself if you miss this one.
photo credit: Serena Davidson
Stan’s Cafe: When Food Commodities and TBA Collide.
by LIZZY CASTON
Rice. White. Long Grain. In 50 Pound Bags. 10,866 Pounds of Rice.
Can you find it?
When PICA asked me to help find rice for Stan’s Cafe I thought, sure. Sounds like fun.
Where to Start?
It was not as easy as planned. Web searches galore and phone calls, phone calls, phone calls.
“Sorry we only export rice to Japan.” Click.
“You want what?! Rice for Art?!! Ha ha ha ha ha….” Click
“No, I’m sorry the minimum amount of rice we deal with is 40,000 pounds.” Click
I swear, many times I would hear, “hold on please,” and then hear laughing in the background. I could imagine the conversations, “Hey I’ve got someone from Portland Art something and they want rice for some sort of art thingy. How weird is that?” Click.
Things were not looking good.
Then I found Wayne from Riceland.
Located Stuttgart, Arkansas, Riceland is a large commercial rice broker and handles rice commodities and promotion of rice throughout the United States. Wayne is our rice angel.
Once I explain how the rice would be used to help visual demographics and statistics about people, the light bulb went off. It’s a great way to promote rice! Wayne loved it.
Wayne connected us with Don from Sysco Food Services of Portland. Sysco went out of their way to find us a discount price and provide us with delivery and product outside of their normal food service routes. Once a price was determined and the paperwork completed, everything was set.
Rice. White. Long Grain. 10,866 Pounds of Rice.
Stan’s Cafe. Of All the People in the World.
Located at PNCA and on view September 7th through September 17th. (FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
photo credit: Serena Davidson
Click here to view more Time Based Art photos by Serena Davidson
For those of you who missed it, DK Row of the Oregonian had a great front-page piece on PICA’s own Kristan Kennedy, providing a bit of behind-the-scenes insight into her art, her tireless work for PICA and her inspirations (a John Lennon fan, eh?). Kristan not only doggedly champions the visual arts program, but she is also the driving force behind this blog, wrangling all of us bloggers into line! You can read the article in its entirety here, and make sure to get out to the opening for TBA’s visual arts programming on Saturday from 4-6pm at the Corberry Press building. And if you see her around the festival (which you certainly will), take a moment to discuss her violin abilities or French new wave cinena and don’t forget to thank her for all of her work.
posted by Patrick Leonard
TBA 05- The dancers stood on a set of black stairs they had painstakingly constructed themselves from a grid of moveable pillars. Earlier in the performance the pillars had constricted them, causing tense, tight patterns of movement. But as the music that once drove them faded out- a series of boom boxes clicking off in succession, the members of the string quartet wandering off into the wings- the two dancers proceeded slowly up the steps into a distant light bleeding onto the stage. The audience held its breath, my companion wept quietly. Suddenly, two rows ahead of me, a cell phone began to play a high-pitched pop tune, resounding against the dead quiet of the theatre. An audience which moments before had been completely immersed and enthralled was at once jarred into confusion and exasperation by the ugly electronic jangle. The disappointment and frustration was palpable as the perpetrator fumbled to shut off her phone. A minute later, in a moment that should have been silent and exquisite, the performance of Wally Cardona Quartet’s Everywhere ended in shock and anger.
I am an advocate for the public shaming of inconsiderate and irresponsible cell phone users. In my opinion, it may be the only way to get people to remember to turn the damn things off when entering a theater- an act that should be automatic. I don’t want to sound like some kind of neo-Ludite (and perhaps it’s too late for that) but there should be some measure of sanity here.
I know that most audience members are considerate, intelligent, well-mannered people. I also know that the excitement and anticipation of watching a puppet pirate rock opera might make one forget the little electronic beastie in their pocket. I ask here, for the sake of us all- Please turn off the cell when you hit your seat, if not before you even get to it. It may be the only way to avoid the shame and emberassment of a TBA faux pas.
Posted by P.A. Coleman
Jeff Jahn at the local blog PORT recently posted about TBA artist David Eckard’s own blog chronicling the development of his soon-to-be revealed performance contraption, Float. One part logistics, one part meditation on his historical sources, and one part humorous account of the obstacles of artistic creation, Eckard’s writing reads well and provides an insider’s preview of just one of the opening night events. Eckard’s great unveiling will come after John King, as the parade of revelers marches from downtown across the Willamette to the Works. Until then, you can read more here or follow directly at Eckard’s blog. It’s certainly sure to be one of the more baroque moments of TBA…
posted by Patrick Leonard
Looking beyond PICA’s TBA Festival, here’s the first word about the second annual Runway to Rooftop fashion show benefiting Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. The show, sponsored in part by Nordstrom will feature, according to the press release, designs from Nordstrom’s “via C” department (which might include anything from D&G by Dolce & Gabbana and Catherine Malandrino to Prairie Underground…stay tuned while we nail down those all-important details). It goes down Saturday, September 23, at 6:30 PM in the Wieden + Kennedy Atrium, followed by a rooftop party with food, drink, and shopping. Tickets are $100, and of the many ways you could donate to PICA, or any other arts institution in town, this one is shaping up to be right up our alley.
U L T R A
ultra is the who, what, and where of fashion, style, design, and culture for Portland.
PICA’s Time Based Art Festival starts the first week of September.
As tickets are really starting to move, I was just figuring out how I could see as much of everything as possible, get from one venue to another, and leave time for snacks and transportation between events…
It is going to be yet another AMAZING line-up!
Thank you PICA!
Here is the schedule, so that you can find a path that will entertain you…
You can purchase tickets via phone: 503.224.7422 or on-line:
Fredrick H. Zal
Architect | Sculptor | Advocate
I think I remember hearing my grandfather (God rest his soul) talk about having seen Kiki and Herb perform at the Coconut Club in Guam, back when he was stationed there in the late fifties. Of course I could be wrong. Gramps was a bit of a mumbler and one hell of a storyteller. Still, the silk hanky monogrammed with a florid “K,” that he carried in his back pocket until his death, raises some questions… To say the least.
At any rate, the legendary duo are still alive and kicking, despite the promise they made to die after their performance at Carnegie Hall. Presently, Kiki and Herb are performing on Broadway. The show, “Kiki and Herb: Alive on Broadway,” received a fawning review in yesterday’s edition of a little cultural rag called the New York Times. On the NYT website you can read the review and watch an audio slide show, narrated by the amazing Kiki herself.
The wearily glimmering musical pair will be performing their Broadway show until Sept. 10th, after which, they will make their way to Portland to perform for a breathless TBA crowd. No wonder they’re tired. I must say, though, after reading the NYT article, it sounds as if the show will be nothing less than brilliant.
Posted by P.A. Coleman
When I learned that Laurie Anderson would be performing for the TBA festival this year, my reaction was something like- “Are you effing serious?” You see, I have this bad habit of crudely asking people to confirm the factuality of things they have just told me… Things which I find amazing or unlikely. As it turned out, yes, they were effing serious.
I don’t know when I was first exposed to Laurie Andersons work. I believe it must have been when I was a young artist, gestating in Southern Oregon. The first thing I remember hearing was “Sweaters” from the Big Science album. I was immediately taken by the lyrics and the grating whine of the song. Shortly after that, I bought Big Science (hallelujah, yodel-eh-he-hoo) and played it for everyone I knew. I was further hooked after watching the concert video Home of the Brave, based on performances from her Mr. Heartbreak tour.
I don’t think there is a modern performance artist who has been more inventive and innovative with sound and electronics than Laurie Anderson. This inventiveness, combined with her enigmatic, thought provoking and often humorous prose and poetry results in, at least for me, a total emersion into a strange world of light and sound which operates on a completely unique set of rules. That is a vague description, I know…
So lately, partly in order to solidify my description of the Laurie Anderson experience and partly to prime myself for seeing her on stage, I have been delving into all things Laurie. I have pulled out my five LP copy of United States Live, listening intently from the comfort of my nagauhide recliner. I have rented Home of the Brave (again) and I have poured over the official Laurie Anderson web site. But the most fascinating thing I have come across, web-wise, is the unofficial Laurie Anderson web site and its bizarre FAQ (frequently asked questions) section, which includes answers to all your burning questions like, “What is the song that goes ha ha ha ha ha ha?” and “I’ve heard that LA [Laurie Anderson] is going to open an amusement park in Spain. Is this true?”
Whether or not LA is going to open a theme park in Spain, the fact remains she is going to perform The End of the Moon, Sept 8th and 9th at the Newmark theatre. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. You shouldn’t miss it either, in my humble opinion.
posted by P.A. Coleman
It’s already begun. Late nights staying up, leafing through my dog-eared copy of the TBA guide, marking and re-marking which events to attend and in what order. (“How fast could I run between events on opposite sides of town without looking like a lunatic?” has been a question at the forefront of my mind.) However, once the festival begins, I won’t have much of a reprieve from these restless nights planning – they’ll simply be replaced by the sleep-depriving performance glory that is the WORKS.
AudioCinema pre-TBA. Photo courtesy of AudioCinema
For those of you who haven’t been to TBA before, the WORKS is, simply put, where all of the festival converges. Where else can you buy a beer for the hardworking PICA staff (which you certainly should do), nosh on deliriously good late-night snacks from what always proves to be an exciting kitchen, talk with friends, volunteers, and performers (!) about what you’ve seen and, if you’re lucky, catch a surprise performance or two by festival participants who drop by for a late-late night drink? Nowhere else.
That is why it is so hard to find much time for sleep during the 10 explosive days of the festival. From film to dance to drag to cabaret to puppets to simply great music that makes you move, I can’t even begin to pick standouts from amongst the line-up performing each night. And to top it all off, every performance is intimate – the stage and the crowd coalesce into one beautiful whole. Whether the performers are crooning to you or sweating for you, it is always entertaining, always unpredictable and always the venue where performers and audiences alike come to have fun and lose sleep.
Posted by Patrick Leonard
There is so much about TBA that is unique and challenging… Often, it isn’t just the art. With so much to see in so many different venues around our fair city, sometimes the most challenging aspect of the festival is getting from one place to another with time enough to find a seat and leaf through the program. There is a certain amount of excitement in blindly and breathlessly hurrying from a dance performance across town to the experimental film that you absolutely have to see; nevertheless, it helps to have a game plan. In the game plan spirit, here’s some helpful information about traversing Portland. If you are an adventure seeker, read no further.
Modes of Movement:
The cheapest, healthiest and, at times, slowest way to get from venue to venue is on foot. It should be noted that Portland is a pedestrian friendly town. The sidewalks are more than accommodating for a fast “walg” (that is walk+jog) between venues in close proximity to one another. Traveling on ones own pegs is particularly pleasurable between Conduit (918 SW Yamhill, Suite 401), the Whitsell Auditorium at the Portland Art Museum (226 SE Madison), the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (1111 SW Broadway), and the Lincoln Performance Hall (1620 SW Park). These venues are in easy walking distance of one another and are separated by the South Park Blocks, one of the jewels of Portland. Incidentally, the trees in the South Parks Blocks are estimated to be worth a cool 3.4 million dollars. Breath in the opulence between shows. Both SW Park and SW 9th travel the length of the South Park Blocks. All the above venues are located along (or close to) SW Park or SW 9th. Travel time between these venues will be easily less than 10 minutes.
The “on foot” approach works well for the South Park Block venues, but some of the performance spaces are a bit farther afield. It would be nice if we were all like David Eckard and could float between venues via the main artery of the city, the Willamette river, using a “fire adorned ‘carriage’…” Unfortunately many of us lack the ingenuity or vision for such a feat. However, for those of an athletic constitution, a bicycle may be just the thing to traverse those long distances. Lucky for these folks, Portland is as friendly to bicycle riders as it is to pedestrians. With proper use of bike lanes, one of the longest jaunts between venues, a trip between the Corberry Press building (NW 17th & Northrup) to the Works (226 SE Madison), should not take more than an hour. In fact, if a person on two wheels uses the East Side Esplanade, it’s practically a straight shot to TBA’s interim late night cabaret cum dance club. From the west side, the Esplanade can be reached via the Steel Bridge off of NW Glisan or the Hawthorne bridge. Both of these river crossings offer plenty of room for pedalers and great views of the water and the city. For the web savvy bicyclist, maps of bike lanes can be purchased from Portland Metro. However, for truly mind-blowing bike trip planning, you can’t beat Portland’s bike routes as seen on Google Earth. With this exhilarating, but kind of creepy, satellite powered technology, you can zero in and fly over your route with ease. Download all you need from Metro right here.
If you’d rather not hoof-it or pedal-it between venues, Portland offers TriMet, one of the best public transportation systems in the US. This is one of the faster methods of getting from place to place. Travel time between venues (plus waiting for buses, streetcars, etc.) should not take more than 40 minutes. You can plan your trip on the TriMet Website. Although it is free to travel within a sizable portion of the city, known as fareless square, travel to destinations outside of this area will cost from $.80 for “honored citizens” to $1.70 for adults. A seven day pass can be purchased for $16.50 from any ticket kiosk.
There are some TriMet routes of particular interest: The Czech republic built Portland Streetcar winds its leisurely way through downtown Portland and passes within two blocks of Ace Hotel Annex (403 SW 10th Ave), Conduit (918 SW Yamhill, Suite 401), Corberry Press (NW 17th-18th & Northrup), Ecotrust (721 NW 9th Ave), Pacific Northwest College of Art (1241 NW Johnson), Lincoln Hall (1620 SW Park), Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium at Portland Art Museum (1219 SW Park), and the Wieden+Kennedy Atrium / TBA Central (224 NW 13th Ave). The only draw-back of the streetcar is its speed. Which is to say, it doesn’t really have any. So if you aren’t in a particular hurry, give it a shot. Some of the more “out-of-the-way” venues can be reached easily by Tri Met. For instance, the Artist Reparatory Theatre Second Stage (1516 SW Alder) can be reached via any westbound Max train- Get off on the 16th Ave stop and walk one block north. The Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center (1819 NW Everett) can be reached by a number 17 bus- get off at the NW Everett and 18th stop. The Someday Lounge (125 NW 5th Ave) is right on the transit mall. Disjecta (230 E Burnside) can be reached via any number 12, 19 or 20 bus- get off at E Burnside & NE Grand and walk a couple of blocks west to NE 2nd. You will find yourself at a small doorway at the base of a large building, beneath the Burnside bridge. Do not be afraid.
For those who feel frightened or otherwise inconvenienced by public transportation, there are many taxi services which will take you to your destination for a (questionably) reasonable fee. Keep in mind that cabs may charge extra for parties consisting of two or more people.
For those who would rather drive, despite the steep increase in oil prices, please keep in mind that Portland streets will likely be clogged from 4PM to 6PM most weekdays. This is of special concern when considering those performances which take place around the 6 o’clock hour. Also, understand that parking around some of these venues is limited and can wind up being a particularly frustrating and expensive venture. Please note that parking in the large parking lot beside Disjecta will likely get you towed.
All roads lead to the Works:
After a day of lectures, workshops and amazing, stultifying, awe inspiring, mind boggling, sometimes incomprehensible performance art, there is no place better to de-brief, de-compress and de-soberize (read: get jiggy), than the TBA’s interim night club and “secret lair,” AKA the Works. The easiest way to get to the Works from anywhere on the west side of the city is to find the Hawthorne bridge, cross it and follow the sound of revelry. You can take any number 4, 6, 10, 14, 31, 32, or 33 bus to the stop on the east end of the Hawthorne bridge. From there it is a short walk down a few stairs to the party. Bicyclists can use the afore mentioned East Side Esplanade, while walkers can cross the river on the Hawthorne bridge at a more leisurely pace. Travelers on the east side need only to find the river (you can’t miss it) and follow it toward Madison via the Esplanade or SE Water Street. When you get there, say “hello” to your fellow audience members, kiss an artist, have a drink, some conversation and please… Get home safely.
posted by P.A. Coleman
I’d been hearing whispers about this holy grail of performance festivals for some time. Even before I moved to Portland.
“It’s like if you took all of the Walker Art Center’s programming and shoved it into ten days,” they said in Minneapolis. “Except there’s better music.”
The timing could not have been more perfect. I drove into Portland last summer after three months in a tent, drunk on nature and starving for a city. But as fate would have it I was ripped from my new home on September 8, 2005 to drive across the country and officiate at the ill-advised and ill-timed wedding of a relative.
But now my year of waiting is tantalizingly close to an end. Of course I’m excited to take in all the performances, but what really gets me swooning and shaking and sweating into my day planner are the workshops. The emphasis on improvisation is right up my alley, but still intimidating. Should I go to the intermediate/advanced workshops if I’m on the intermediate (really beginner if we’re being honest) side of things in terms of dance technique, but advanced in terms of improvisation? If I bow down in front of Deborah Hay will I look like a total tool? And the biggest question of all: How does working full time fit into all this self-indulgent workshop-hopping?
It’s one thing (and a great thing) to present work to an audience, but it’s another (very generous thing) to offer to teach whoever shows up something of your craft. I love the mystery of open workshops with sketchy, barely descriptive titles. I love the attention of a large group of strangers all inspired by what they saw last night or anticipating the thrill of this night’s performance. I love these things. And they scare me to death.
posted by Maesie Speer
mindblowing cheap stage effects
leading boylesque performer
force of nature!
Hoontown Puppet Festival (Bangkok)
“modern lexicon of suburban hell”
intellectual property law
form one super-party
formal evening of R. Kelly songs
Songs to Drown By
under east end of Hawthorne Bridge
night vision apparatus
songbirds crafted from flammable magnesium tape
NASA’s first artist in residence
formation of gilded megaphones
simulated flight suits
flying and falling
perpetual and physical limitations
Zoom, zoom. Yeah, I’ll go.
posted by Kirsten Collins
Brede Rorstad is a quiet force composing, conducting and collaborating his way through his latest project the Music Population Orchestra. Last week the MPO took to the streets, their brilliant noise fighting against the din of first thursday traffic and chattering.
Photo by Amy Morisse
Read Brede’s thoughts on the performance, and while you are there check out 15 a mini music sampling which makes a 15 seconds seem full of purpose and potential.
MPO opens the TBA 06 Festival with a FREE CONCERT at the WORKS, Sept 7 at 8pm.
posted by laurabecker
man, i love portland. the beers, the books, the blissful progressive spirit and the beauty that is the pacific northwest. combine all that with the fact that this seems like the only part of america that isn’t melting as we speak – and really, what’s not to love?
i feel like every summer when i return to these typepad pages, things around us just keep getting worse. last year it was katrina, before that it was the foreboding doom of the re-(stealing of the) election, and this year – well this year it’s just a major global shitstorm.
but, but (thank god there’s a but) for ten days our city that i am so proud of and so in love with gets to welcome our national and international cohorts, protect them and ourselves in an artistic shield of inspiration, imagination and energy, and use our creative surge of perspective to think back and look ahead with balance and an increased sense of community.
people, this is a good thing.
as each year i rely more and more on tba to get me through the dark clouds of craziness around us i just feel so lucky to have it to look forward to and remember all year long. whether it’s a secret smile about those crazy lone twins, or a shudder of excitement for a dance performance that requires night vision goggles (!!!), i just can’t focus enough on time based art – as both a fun distraction and as an annual treat for some serious pondering. cause really, there’s not much else i wanna ponder (or can even deal with) right now.
i don’t want to miss one moment of it. cause when the times are telling you to live life to the fullest, these are the moments that they mean.
photo by kelly copper
we just had a sneak peak at some of this upcoming TBA Performance ” Poetics: A Ballet Brut” by wunderkind Pavol Liska and his Nature Theater of Oklahoma. It is the dance routine that has been in the back of your head, it is the theater without words, it is the t shirt you love.
I’m seriously serious about this one.
Posted by Kristan Kennedy
We just got a few FRESH copies of the new TBA catalog. It will hit the streets Monday. If anyone wants it sent right to your door – you can sign up for a copy on the new PICA web site. (link above!) or you can come down to PICA (224 NW 13th) on Tuesday from 6-8pm for a release party.
I have forsaken you. It is a crying shame that I have not written down every little thing that has transpired in recent months. There was the Lecture Series at PSU, there was
Pablo Helguera and his School of Panamerican Unrest, there was that trip to Chicago for the Contemporary Art Centers Convening, there was the Dance Lab, there was the NWNW Festival at On the Boards, there was Matthew Day Jackson’s residency , the PICA Birthday Party, the TADA Gala and the recent PICA BBQ. I am sure I am forgetting important nuggets of activity, contemplation and wonder. And so it is my promise to you that in coming weeks I will update you like you have never been updated. We need to get back into it you and I, TBA 06 is on its way (in fact the catalog hits the streets next week!) and the PICA Press Corp will be taking over soon, come to think of it – we may never be alone again!
Hold tight dear blog, I won’t be long.
And just in case anyone out there has some sort of record of PICA’s recent activities, and you want your words or pictures to grace this space. Send me your entries and I will do my best to post them right quick.
Yours in thought and deed,
One of my favorite PICA lectures last year was Hans Weigand and Raymond Pettibon. More theater than theory – these friends, band-mates and killer artists – are not defined by their chattering but by their work.
Crinkum Crankum – Pettibon and Weigand
Pettibon inflamed some people- we were accused of making him our “minstrel” and professors at local art schools were horrified that their students might be influenced by incoherence. There was however an equally powerful group in the crowd who worshiped him and were filled with glee that he was who he was. My favorite moment in the Pettibon “lecture” was when he flipped to a slide showing a drawing of a Dollar bill- there was a pained silence, and then a shuffling of the feet, and he said- “This is a swastika (pause pause – really long pause) Oh, I mean a dollar bill”.
His look doesn’t matter: Everyone loves Raymond
The reluctant Pettibon shows up at his opening in dirty clothes. But he’s a star in the art world.
By James Verini, Special to The Times
April 15, 2006
There are two types of people at a typical Raymond Pettibon opening. One type is drawn to the epigrams and discomfiting punch lines buried in Pettibon’s seemingly blithe drawings and paintings – serious folks who like to be seriously poked in the eye by art. Then there are the cheerier souls who come to see another beach bum play with cartoons.
Both were out in force at the Regen Projects gallery last Saturday for Pettibon’s new show, which is up until May 6. A mix of the grave and the merry sipped glasses of cheap white gallery wine and walked in slow circles around Regen’s big atrial room, some glowering, some smiling at Pettibon’s waves, trains and baseball players, which were pinned to the walls as though they’d just been torn from his sketchpad (his preferred style of presentation).
Pettibon loomed in the corner, looking as if he’d just been torn from something himself. Judging from his dirty white Jamaica tourist T-shirt, stained plaid-patterned trousers and sooty slip-on Vans, it might have been art or possibly something refuse-related.
By now you might have heard that on most Monday nights you can find an artist at the Fifth Ave. Cinemas, speaking to a diverse crowd about their work and their ways. Curated by Harrell Fletcher, these lectures are free and everyone is invited. Last weeks offering brought out a “star” studded crowd to see Jim Drain. I could be wrong but I think he is the first artist in the series to have his name grace the marquee?
Formerly of the rambling knit clad noise band / art collaborative ForcefieldDrain was one of the members of Providence Rhode Island’s Fort Thunder a drawing/performance/costume party/home/studio/rock venue. Both were catapulted into the collective art consciousness after Forcefield’s inclusion in the 2002 Whitney Biennial
Now the knitwearis off the band and on Drain’s sculptures. At times they confound -is it a funny looking monster?, a giant bong?, a firecracker? – or all of those things at once? but most of all they leave my jaw hanging open in awe.
I say NOT BORING!!!!
Decked out in a cute/disturbing heart covered sweatshirt
its hard to take photos in the dark…
Drain started off the night by treating us to some videos – including an undulating rainbow by Takeshi Murata and found animation featuring escalating battles between a poop (yes I said poop!) powered villain and his gullible victim.
a cartoon turd rocket
Then came a Forcefield piece with three hooded drones staring down a fire in an oil barrel. This was the most captivating of the three- and significant to Drain who commented that he likes the tension and aggression set up by having to watch the piece and the annonymity that both his costumes and his Forcefield alias afforded him.
When the lights came back on Drain started in on his lecture – more ramble than academic posturing he quickly dismissed his aforementioned sculptures by flying through the slides and muttering that they were “boring, boring boring”. He revealed he is a bit nostalgic for his more performative and collaborative projects
Drain/Peterson geo-kaleidoscope framework which when finished looks like this…
He even went so far as to suggest that perhaps performance is a more expressive and accessible art form. His uncomfortableness speaking to his own work was frustrating to some- and the audience started to call out for information. Inquiries lead Drain into more detailed discussion – and ranged from “how did you do that” (he uses a knitting machine) to tricky questions about what success brings and what his feelings were about the proliferation of Fort Thunder copycats. (He feels uncomfortable stating that he and/or forth thunder is responsible for inventing anything)
His answers and his lecture as a whole were awkward, endearing, frustrating and most of all human.
“Artists can no more speak about their work, than plants can speak about horticulture.” Jean Cocteau
What is it that we expect artists to say? Most people I spoke to afterward-expressed frustration that Drain did not reveal passion about his work did not get theoretical about his practice and did not clue us into some deeper meaning. I can only speak for myself when I say what these lectures have taught me is that our expectations of being entertained or having our own practice or theory justified by artists often hinders our experience – and that even little blips of coherence can lead to generous and genuine insight into an artists work.
The fact that we want more, better, faster and perfect seems indicative of a haunting question. Is the academic expectation that an artist should be able to talk (in art speak) about their work or that they need to deliver a lecture in a prescribed way- realistic? necessary? – anymore interesting than letting someone just be? or letting the work be?
I don’t really want an answer to any of these questions, I just want to keep learning by listening, debating when moved to do so and most of all to remain open to visiting artists sometimes challenging voices. How about you?
Listen Up! at the PSUMNLS (PSU MONDAY NIGHT LECTURE SERIES)
Fifth Ave Cinemas / SW Hall of SW 5th Ave.
Next up is Bill Daniel- get notified of future lectures by signing up for emails right here.
I recently attended a meeting of the National Performance Network (NPN) at the headquarters in New Orleans. With 60 partners across the US (PICA is one) we meet several times a year, each time in a different city. For logistical reasons, it was a difficult decision for the NPN staff to hold the annual board meeting in New Orleans, but it gave us a chance to see the post-hurricane damage first hand, and get an inside look at how the arts community is working to rebuild.
View this clip on Vimeo
“the bath tub ring”
I arrived around 8 pm, and everything at the airport was closed, including the airport shuttle. It took quite a while to find a taxi, and the driver told me her evacuation story on the drive in, stopping to pick up her friend, a construction worker staying at a hotel on the edge of town, who needed her help in finding an open restaurant. As we got close to the city, she pointed out the “bathtub ring” -a black line running about 4-6 feet high on all the buildings, where the water sat for up to three weeks.
My recent trip to NY was a pavement-pounding whirlwind. I do believe Portlanders traveling to the “the city” during the first weeks of March were surely responsible for a significant boom in airline earnings. It was not unusual to run into a familiar face – Portland dealers, artists and collectors were out and about. What was all the fuss about?The Whitney Biennial, the Armory and all of the other shows and fairs riding these giants’ coat tails (PULSE, SCOPE, DIVA to name a few) were in full bloom.
The first day I headed to the Armory Show held in two massive yet underwhelming buildings perched on the edge of the West Side Highway. Like any trade show the Armory reeked of salesman. There was the unnatural red carpet more like a red sea than a starlet walkway, and there were the booths, crammed with wares and stares. The Armory did provide me with a whiplash look at a massive selection of International galleries, and at times some significant pieces. There were stories floating around everywhere of collectors sneaking in by any means -for a pre -preview just to get first pick. Because of this heated market -dealers were not hiding the best work it was right there out in the open. Equally telling was the proliferation of emerging work as all of the “under represented” artists who are currently featured in the Whitney’s big show found themselves over represented in almost every cube in the fair. Because I was hoofing it fast it was all I could do but scribble a dozen names in my notebook while walking the mile long hallways. Some favorites included Rachel Harrison’s architecturally impossible paint covered blocks at Greene Naftali, similarly thick were Jo Jackson’s plaster and wax mini monuments at Jack Hanley and Justine Kurland’s new photos taken while on residency last year at PICA were lush and harrowing and made me a little homesick.
Next up was the Whitney Biennial. The reports are true. The show is a mess. Contrary to the word on the street and all over the art blogs I thought the mess was a beautiful one. I’m sure you have seen all the pics, hoards of looky loos peering through holes cut in the gallery walls. Whitney Walls
There are piles of things in corners, more flash, folk, glitter and trash than ever before. This is a show that takes time to look at. If you just glance around it seems all too much. Waiting for the elevator I wanted to lean on Aaron Young’s giant fake rock with the words “locals only” scrawled on it.
Mr. Young and his rock.
Once up on the top floor I spiraled down giving everything the once over, then I stopped by the front desk to pick up the audio tour headphones. If you are thinking of visiting NY to catch this show I highly recommend taking advantage of this free resource. While I often debate the usefulness of wall tags, contextual blabbering and a guided experience I found myself addicted to the peace it afforded me (once the headphones go on the crowd disappears) furthermore the audio was jam packed with valuable artist commentary. My second trip around was much more careful. Four hours later I felt like I was a time traveler, many of the artists works read like post apocalyptic relics. Certain things stood out: Matthew Day Jackson’s Conestoga wagon rode over a florescent tube rainbow an electric promise of something better if we only could just get there.
Matthew Day Jackson
Dorothy Iannone’s comic book on cloth, and tv tower which took almost a decade to complete and illustrated her intense love affair with Dieter Roth.
Deva Graf’s installation with mirror, sand and towers with peering clay busts made you lean back, crouch down and stand on tippy toes.
Ryan Trecartin’s insane supersaturated video with helium voiced clown people busting through wrapping paper walls,
Sturtevant’s meticulous Duchamp homage and most of all a single panel on the Peace Tower, which read “We Can Disappear You”. If this show were a time capsule containing the stuff of right now the it would be right on.
The next day I walked Chelsea. With the selling pressure point lifted off this district and for one weekend located at the Armory, many of the dealers took the opportunity to mount major installation work and video projects in their spaces. Nicole Klagsbrun carpeted her whole gallery with plush grey carpet for John Pilson’s surprising solo show of four video installations dealing with how we communicate and what we obsess over. James Cohen presented Trenton Doyle Hancock’s massive paintings, and a selection of prints that made me believe in etching again. Trenton Doyle Hancock
Alfredo Jarr’s new film Muxima had Gallery Lelong turned into a theater and Gallery 303 had new work by Inka Essenhigh which although significantly bizarre were undeniable if only for their masterfull execution.
Amongst all of this stood a still wave, Tara Donavan’s sea of plastic cups at Pace made me stand still for the first time all week. It was truly epic!
An opening at Esso introduced me to the work of Larry Bamburg in which a giant paper mountain took over one corner and was circled by a cluster of fake flies moving above (set in motion with the help of an elaborate pulley and fan system) and in the next room a menacing swarm of faux gnats a formed a cloud both suspended and “alive” in the middle of the room. Next-door Cao Fei’s opening was a true scene. Videos screened on overturned Chinese restaurant tables, and a stage built out of Chinatown signage for the rap group Notorious MSG moved spectators into the realm of spectacle.
The next day I was off to Long Island City to visit PS1 a former school turned cavernous contemporary art haven. The much-hyped show of 13 Chinese video artists fell flat except for the work of the aforementioned Cao Fei whom was also prominently figured here (some of you may remember her Cos Players piece from Jeff Jahn’s Fresh Trouble show). The rest of the museum scored high with a two story assemblage by Jessica Stockholder, insanely beautiful silver prints by Peter Hujar,
Self -Portrait 1980 Peter Hujar
the cinematic pranks of Sarah Greenberger Rafferty and my favorite piece of the trip Magical World by Johanna Billing in which a group of Croatian school children rehearse the 1968 Rotary Connection of the same name.
Magical World Johanna Billing
Next stop was a trip to DUMBO for a studio visit with Malia Jensen (her new work will be shown in Portland at Elizabeth Leach Gallery in May) and then back over the bridge to White Columns for their closing party and a nightcap at Gavin Brown’s gallery/bar passerby.
The visit was equal parts exhausting and inspiring. Lots of looking elicits lots of thinking and this jaunt was a reminder that whatever city you are in right now art is waiting to be found and is always worth the trip.
I have a problem- I always get goofy for loud mouth liberals- Schumer was my hometown representative and my first political crush – now I have one more reason to love Senator Chuck…lets just hope this one passes.
The New York Times
November 22, 2005
Senate Bill Lets Artists Claim Price for Gifts
By ROBIN POGREBIN
Living writers, musicians, artists and scholars who donate their work to a museum or other charitable cause would earn a tax deduction based on full fair market value under a bill just passed by the Senate.
Currently such work receives only a deduction based on the cost of materials unless it is donated posthumously by the estates.
The measure was approved as an amendment to a broader $59.6 billion tax relief bill passed by the Senate early Friday. It now goes to a House-Senate conference committee. The House version of the tax relief bill does not include the arts provision, but the senators who introduced the amendment – Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Pete V. Domenici, a New Mexico Republican – said they were hopeful that the committee would support it.
Under the bill, artists could donate their work during their lifetimes at full market value provided that it is properly appraised and handed over at least 18 months after it is created.
Posted by Levi Hanes
It has been a couple of weeks since the presentation/lecture. No real excuse for not writing anything about it except I had hoped to flesh out some lingering questions and maybe see if anything gelled in my head as to what I would write. I anticipated and interesting show what with a young artist who seems to be making it fairly well for himself. Ryan McGinness spoke well, had a sense of humor with a coxing of the audience to give him a resounding entrance of clapping. McGinness laid out his work over the years, presenting his early work as a designer and its influence over his current work.
I wish wish wish wish – the new issue of ARTFORUM were available online, becuase it includes a stellar and thoughtful piece on TBA with words and wisdom about DJ Spooky, Ivana Muller, LoneTwin, Victoria Hanna, Lori Goldstone, Faustin Linyekula and some waxing poetic about THE WORKS> the article penned by Clear Cut Press’s Matthew Stadler – does the festival and the artist justice. Come check out the NOV Issue in the PICA resource room or at a RICH’S near you. (page 77 ya’ll!)
The debate is on… is there a winner ? a loser? a white flag? a tie? when Art + Design +Concept + Commodity +Rip off + Cop-Opt + Multiverse + Universe get tossed into the ring – Katherine Bovee’spiece on Ryan McGinness’s recent “show and tell” at PICA sets off cerebral sparks. Read more on Portland’s art news hubPORT.
Ryan McGinness landed in PDX mere moments ago. Exhausted from his cross country jaunt, and surviving the glorious crossfire of two solo exhibitions which opening within days of each other – he was still a lovely guest in the PICAmobile as we drove him across the steel bridge into downtown. In classic Portland form the clouds and blue pushed against the grey and rain creating one giant mash of weather defying meteorological categorization.
Lets hope he gets some rest before his talk tomorrow which is sure to stir up some conversation about the blurry line where art and design intersect and collide. McGinness’ candy colored “multiverses” of layered and loaded symbols and swirls, beg us to erase the line entirely and just let them exist. Like the clouds, and the sun and the raindrops and all that- all at once beautifully together.
Ryan McGinesss, installationview / Deitch Projects/ Photo by Jon Pannier
The lecture is at 7pm at PICA / Tickets are available at the door / more info at PICA.org
We are slowly but surely culling through massive amounts of TBA:05 Photos, not only did PICA’s Press Corp blog the fest from start to finish they also shot it. Our first shot at organizing the best of it all can be found HERE! more and more and lots more to come.
photo by Jorg Jakoby
Posted by Erin Boberg
Performance Art Program Director / Co-Curator TBA Festival, PICA
When traveling, you often find yourself looking for your twin. If you’re from Portland, you might think it would be easy to find your twin in Melbourne. Like the Willamette, the Yarra River flows through the wine country and through the center of the city. The neighborhoods are full of small independent businesses and coffee shops. The weather is mild and the pace of life is easy. You play a kind of matching game as you walk through the city: This is the Seaplane of Melbourne, this is the Half and Half of Melbourne, this is the Hawthorne of Melbourne, this is the Pioneer Square of Melbourne.
It might just be the weather, the grid system, the wildlife, the weather, the love of art, the love of festivals, the cafe society, the society. But it suits you.
For seven nights in Federation Square, Lone Twin (Gregg and Gary) arrive on their bicycles, having ridden around the city all day, collecting stories, and developing seven new minutes to add to their performance. Each night the crowd gathered on the steps gets bigger and bigger, as they raise a series of toasts – To the first day in a new city! To Sunday! (which makes you feel like crying) To Sunday! (which makes you feel like laughing) To the woman who controls the traffic! To calling up strangers! To saying “where did you get my number?” To marriage! (I still love you) To going home! To saying goodbye! To saying “Ciao! “
You feel at home, especially because there are so many people you have just seen in Portland. This is the Ros and Kristy and Malachi of Melbourne, this is the MK and Cris and Molly of Melbourne, the David and Wendy and Justin and Guy and John of Melbourne. And sitting on the steps are hundreds of other people who you might come to know if you stayed here longer, people you would miss when you went home.
By the seventh day, you realize the cities are not that similar. Or they are only similar in that they are both so fiercely and proudly unique. They’re good cities to live in and good cities to leave. They’re full of good people caring for other good people. You and Gregg and Gary and everyone else from somewhere else are looking for your twins, but you don’t have one here or anywhere. There’s no one like you. There’s no place like here and there’s no place like home.
To going home! To if you lived here, you’d be home by now! To the love of festivals! To long lost friends! (I still love you.) To marriage! (I still love you.) To the sweet small beers! To the lanes! To Spring! To wishing you were someone else! To having some one to miss! To having it both ways! To lone twins!
Gary from Lone Twin / Photo by Dorie Vollum
Reports from visitors to Kristy Edmunds’ first Melbourne International Arts Festivalare floating in- Sam Adams has been over there studying the importance of a city supporting the arts, Portland artist Justin Harris (also from Menomena) is over there presenting his Late Great Libido Opera, Cris Moss and MK Guth are driving the crowds mad with Red Shoe Delivery Service and several TBA Alums, Lone Twin, Guy Dartnell, Diamanda Galas to name a few have taken the stages of PICA’s “sister” festival by storm. Here are a few pics (special thanks to Dorie Vollum). In the coming weeks expect some musings on Melbourne from TBA co-curator Erin Boberg – also Sam Adams has been posting on his blog
Justin in Melbourne
Cris Moss of Red Shoe
Gary from Lone Twin in awe of Melbourne’s marketing budget?
The Melbourne Skyline
Posted by Rob McMahon
Note: This piece was created as part of the Kamikaze Writing Workshop with Elizabeth Zimmer of the Village Voice.
Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters are endearing chaps. At last year’s TBA, they had me from hello(actually an off-key, acapella version of Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road). Friday night at Corberry Press was no different. The performance duo know as Lone Twin are already in medias res as we walk up. With a two-step shuffle, Gregg is circling a gussied-up luggage bag. He’s admittedly wearing, “far too many clothes for a September day in Portland.” Gary, across the street, in similar garb and with matching suitcase, calls out instructions through a megaphone: “It’s the cutting of the hair; the barefoot on the railings; the way south…” With each command Gregg preforms the corresponding gesture. When he completes the sequence, Gary tags a new gesture on the end; gestures accumulate a la “The Ratlin Bog.” “Next is ‘the dream of his neck’ which is a rotating of the neck.” Gregg does. Says Gary, “That’s it.”
This review was written in the “Kamikaze Writing Workshop” that Elizabeth Zimmer of “The Village Voice” led. We saw performances at night and then had to submit 300-500 word essays the next morning.
–posted by Gigi Rosenberg
Two lanterns hang in the air on either side of a cloud or maybe it’s a crumpled sheet touched by a yellow and pink sunset. Two dancers walk in deliberate slowness, entranced in a moving meditation. They bend and arch as one body, then break apart to writhe on the ground, then quake as if struck by an epileptic fit.
This scene opened choreographer Kota Yamazaki’s latest butoh dance “Rise:Rose” which premiered at the 2nd weekend of the TBA Festival at PSU’s Lincoln Hall. The program notes that Yamazaki’s piece explores “images of heaven or a world that might come after people die” and how those who have lost a sense of self can rediscover who they are “by finding roots in the far past or even in the unseen future.”
Butoh a contemporary form of semi-improvisational dance, born in post-war Japan at a time of political unrest and artistic experimentation, flowered in the 1960’s. Also called the “Dance of Darkness,” it breaks the rules, exploring worlds of unconventional beauty, decay, fear and the unconscious.
When the dance is slow, the three performers (Yamazaki, Michou Szabo and Mina Nishimura) mesmerize. Their jerky movements evoke a disturbing landscape of a world gone berserk with mechanical shaking.
Although the dance is abstract, the performers move with precision and clarity. Most notable is Yamazaki who dances with seductive fluidness, his arms waving like banners in a violent wind. His undulating body looks as if it might not have bones.
“Rise:Rose” received exuberant response from the opening night audience with many standing and whooping in admiration. Other viewers looked perplexed and one person said: “that was so irritating.”
Butoh is an acquired taste, demanding that you surrender needing to understand and allow the dance to speak to the your subconscious. If you can do this, you may find yourself transported by the last image: the three bodies, bathed in yellow light, undulate in unison, as if they had finally found Yamazaki’s heaven.
– Gigi Rosenberg
(a list, posted by Amber Bell)
(Slow Dance Recyttal)
(Mirah with Spectratone International)
Man with a fly in his mouth
This review was written for the “Kamikaze Writing Workshop” with Elizabeth Zimmer of The Village Voice. We saw performances at night and then had to turn in 300-500 word reviews the next morning. Under Elizabeth’s supportive and critical eye, we started with 10 of us and ended up with six of us still standing at the end.
Posted by Gigi Rosenberg
By flashlight you glimpse hands, legs, escape, kissing, night, whispers, a journey. A foreboding rumbling suggests that your subconscious has cracked open and that your world will never be the same.
This is the opening of “Aura” the brilliant collaboration between Cecilia Appleton’s Mexican Contradanza and Rosanna Gamson/World Wide’s Los Angeles troupe. The dance-theater piece played the 2nd weekend of the TBA festival in the Newmark Theater.
“Aura” is based on renowned Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes’ short story of the same name, published in 1962. In the story, Felipe accepts a translating job from an aged widow, Consuelo. Once on assignment in her bizarre house, Felipe yearns to escape with the widow’s niece Aura, only to discover that, as her name suggests, she is not a person, but a glow in the imagination of Consuelo.
Several dancers play the roles of Felipe, Consuelo and Aura. Often one of the Felipes approaches the edge of the stage to “check in” with the audience in delightfully intimate monologues. He says: “I want you to imagine that you are here. So we can be together. That is my goal, to be with you. It is all about you. This is what happens in my imagination about you.”
When the widow interviews the Felipe from her enormous bed, the bedcovers whoosh up to reveal the doubles of their characters dancing under the covers in a sensuous duo, or sado-masochistic trio. To the side of the bed is a skeletal man leaping in a frenetic whirlwind swathed in pink light – perhaps the tortured soul of Felipe?
The dance combines elements of musical theater, ballet and modern with one dancer walking on stilts in a gigantic skirt that swallows men whole. The result is seductive and surreal with the stage so full of action that you would have to watch the production several times to witness all its richness.
In the finale, the 10 dancers wear yellow rubber gloves and morph into a gigantic flower that gives birth to two naked lovers. Are they Aura and Felipe… Consuelo and Felipe? Or Adam and Eve? Maybe all three. What matters is that we have fulfilled our promise to the narrator. We have been there, in that story, and allowed its beauty and darkness to unfold in our own subconscious dreams.
Lone Twin at Corberry Press on Sunday Evening
–posted by Lisa Radon
Very quickly: I have never heard Lone Twin described accurately. Oh, sure I heard the best minds of my generation in Portland lauding their ’04 performance in a way I rarely hear from jaded they. I heard about clouds and river water and melancholy and humor. There were stabbings at specifics.
At the beginning of the fest, if you’d asked me what do you really want to see, I would have said Lone Twin. But at the end of the week between the exhaustion and my typical anti- reaction to the hype, I was almost ready to blow off Lone Twin on Sunday night after nearly two complete festivals-worth of anticipation.
From the Show + Tell to DJ Spooky to the M.O.S.T. to Alain Buffard and Anna Halprin: play as a recurring theme throughout the week of TBA
–posted by Lisa Radon