This Just In!

Our Resource Room just received an infusion of fresh books, CDs and DVDs from TBA Festival alumni and artists from around the world. Stop by and check out what’s new!

From France:
French Connection: 88 Contemporary Artists, 88 Art Critics
FRAC Alsace Catalogue des Acquisitions 2003-2007
PALAIS Magazine: Fresh Hell/Carte Blanche à Adam McEwen

From Spain:
Victoria Civera: atando el cielo

From China:
Shouting Truth – A contemporary art exhibition

From here:
Image Transfer: Pictures in a Remix Culture (Henry Art Gallery)
ABSTRACT (Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College)
Ruby Sky Stiler: Inherited and Borrowed Types (Publication Studio/PICA’s TBA:10)
Holcombe Waller: Into the Dark Unknown

DVDs include TBA:10 performances:
Radoslaw Rychcik/Stefan Zeromski Theatre – In the Solitude of Cotton Fields
Maria Hassabi – SoloShow

TBA:10 Chats and Salons:
Anissa Mack
TBA In a Nutshell
Beth Morrison
Mike Daisey and Jean-Michele Gregory
Conor Lovett of the Gare St. Lazare Players
Maria Hassabi, Danielle Kelly + Noelle Stiles, and Jonathan Turner of Yemenwed
Storm Tharp and Jessica Jackson Hutchins
Ronnie Bass, Gandalf Gavan, and astrophysicist Ethan Siegel
Nature Theater of Oklahoma

and the recent lecture by Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne.

Browse these new materials, and our entire collection when you visit our Resource Room at 224 NW 13th Ave, Suite 305, Monday through Friday, from 10am – 5pm.

Between my head and my hand, there is always the face of death.

Currently on view at PNCA, Between my head and my hand, there is always the face of death gathers together seven distinctive artists for a clear-eyed look at the resurgence of figurative painting. PICA’s Visual Art Curator Kristan Kennedy spent the past year researching and tracking down painters from Germany, Ireland, New York, Los Angeles, and our own backyard in the Pacific Northwest. From Tala Madani’s comedic, impasto animations to Grant Barnhart’s constructed studio environments, the work may not at first glance reveal a close stylistic kinship, and yet each piece attests to the fact that figurative painting is very much thriving at the edges of the medium while keeping a keen eye on the historical canon.

If you weren’t able to make it to last night’s opening, we’ve uploaded some photos of the finished exhibition and of Kristan and her crew hanging the show:

And download a copy (PDF) of Kristan’s curator essay, Shells of Our Selves.

Between my head and my hand runs through March 26 at PNCA’s Philip Feldman Gallery. Click here for more information on the exhibit and for links to videos and reviews on the included artists.

And make sure to join us for a free and public curator’s walk-through, led by Kennedy on February 15, from 6:30-7:30 pm.

PICA Takes Manhattan

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN It’s been a few weeks now that we’ve all been back in the office after our trip to New York, but we’re still thinking of and talking about and hashing out all of the work that we saw there. With the APAP conference, the Under the Radar, COIL, and American Realness Festivals, countless presenter showcases, and dozens of open rehearsals and “speed-dating” pitches, there are literally hundreds of performances running day and night through the first two weeks of January, and we didn’t even make it to Pee Wee Herman’s Broadway comeback! Then, factor in day-long treks through the Met, New Museum, Whitney, and galleries across the city, and bowl upon bowl of spicy Chinese soups, and you’ve got the basis for some serious art indigestion. It was overwhelming, really, but thankfully we’ve cross-trained (ahem, TBA) for this kind of marathon. Here’s a bit of what we encountered on stage, in galleries, and at the peripheries. Put another way, these are the sights, sounds, and performances that we’re still processing.

Between myself, Erin, Cathy, Kristan, Victoria, Jessica, and Scott, we covered:



Posted by Kristan Kennedy.

I started the my annual trip to NY  happily trapped in South Brooklyn, where snow plows feared to tread and where there wasn’t a Q train or a loaf of bread available for four days. At least my sister was there to lighten the mood.

When I did make it into the city, all of the galleries were still closed from the storm. Luckily, the Housing Works Authority Thrift Shop was open, because there I found two books that I expect will change my life forever. One was about Miss Piggy and her private collection, the “Kermitage.” See her here in a fetching Mondrian inspired frock:



Each year, PICA produces a companion program to our Time-Based Art ON SIGHT Visual Arts exhibitions. Over the past few days, we’ve posted some of the artist interviews from TBA:10 to the blog, but there is a lot more packed inside the latest catalogue. With all of this rich content at our disposal, we wanted to make the past programs available online for your enjoyment. For more artist interviews, recordings, and art publications, visit the PICA Resource Room, Monday-Friday, 10 am – 5 pm.

Download the TBA:10 ON SIGHT Catalogue (PDF), featuring artists Charles Atlas, Ronnie Bass, Dan Gilsdorf, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Anissa Mack, Miller & Shellabarger, Christopher Miner, John Smith, Ruby Sky Stiler, Storm Tharp, and Yemenwed. The catalogue also includes a photo essay by Visual Art Curator Kristan Kennedy; an interview between People’s Biennial curators Jens Hoffmann and Harrell Fletcher; an essay by Mack McFarland on Nina Katchadourian; and original writing by Anne Marie Oliver, Sam Korman, and Rebecca Steele.

Storm Tharp

High House at TBA:10. Photo: Dan Kvitka.

Storm Tharp has been looking in the same mirror for more than a decade. It has moved with him from studio to studio, accumulating paint marks, bits of tape, and various scuffs. The mirror is as great an influence on his work as any other single tool, piece of research, beautiful peony, or sad song. For his residency at PICA, Tharp brings together objects and ephemera that provide the hidden, joyful, and meaningful subtext to his work to form arrangements in a room that is part studio, part gallery, and part home: a still life.

Kristan Kennedy: High House is an arrangement of things and a constructed environment that is both of the studio and of the home. How do you define this space, is it in-between or a blending of the two?

Storm Tharp: My house and my studio are where I spend the majority of my time—but there are ideas in High House that are about other spaces. Being outdoors, being in the sun, eating alone—these kinds of things. The intent was to showcase real inspiration, or the ideas that fill life. (more…)

Dan Gilsdorf

Diabolus in Musica at TBA:10. Photo: Wayne Bund.

Diabolus in Musica is a single uninterrupted chord, a sound banned by the Catholic Church in the eighteenth century. On two Sundays—one at the beginning and one at the closing of TBA:10—Gilsdorf has enlisted Beati Chorum to perform this score for the entirety of the exhibition’s open hours. The resulting performance is an exercise in human stamina and tonal dissonance.

Kristan Kennedy: What does it mean to be human?

Dan Gilsdorf: Maybe the key to the question is in the fact that we can even conceptualize it as a question at all, and that we can explore its answer. I’d say that it has something to do with questioning, with differentiating between the known and unknown, and examining the assignment of meaning to our own condition.



Bedroom w TV and Woman Lays w Aide. Courtesy of Yemenwed.

The video piece Episode 3 presents a surreal sci-fi journey that melds animation, live action, painting, and sculpture. Taking queues from performance, ritual, dance, and cinema, Episode 3 is an abstract meditation on multiplicity, spiritual transcendence, and architectural experience. Bedroom w TV and Woman Lays w Aide is compiled from three distinct performances and examines several characters within an abstract interior. In a space of illusionary privacy, based on a bedroom in a New York City Housing Project, two women are accompanied by three backup dancers: one human, one sculptural, and one animate hybrid.

Kristan Kennedy:
In your work, live and otherwise, you construct environments that are of this world, but also possibly of another. What is the intersection between them? Is this other world of the past or the present, or is it reflective of the future?

Yememwed: Our work often conveys the idea of a peripheral reality superimposed onto the main stage of experience. It is all happening right now: the immediate present, past, and future. The intersection of these worlds is probably best described as an overlay or filter, where one contextualizes the other, yet they run parallel at all times. (more…)

Anissa Mack

Photo: Patrick Leonard. Courtesy of the artist, the lumber room, and Laurel Gitlen.

Although frequently referred to as “disposable” in our society, objects often predate and outlast us, continually cycling through owners and contexts over time. Museums, junk shops, curio cabinets, auctions, and collections all serve as sites that help to define the narratives and emotions that we bring to our things. Within the context of a private collector’s artwork holdings, Mack’s project examines the magnetism and lingering appeal of objects and images.

Kristan Kennedy: This project is a likely and unlikely collaboration: between you and a patron and an institution, and between you and a collection of objects and a site. Where do you begin? How will you go about developing a new body of work while in residence? Will you shut out or let in influences, and from where and from whom?

Anissa Mack: I will begin by trying to start where I left off in my studio—trying to keep the momentum going. I’ve brought along a few pieces that I just finished, as well as a piece that’s almost done. I think in two weeks it’s more about considering how to integrate my work (or my collection) and Sarah Miller Meigs’ [of the lumber room] collection, rather than making a new body of work. In terms of influence, I’m sure that the artwork in the collection, the conversations I have with you and Sarah, as well as just my experiences in Portland will have a great effect on the final project. I can already see certain trajectories developing that wouldn’t have occurred to me back home.


Ruby Sky Stiler

Photo: Talia Chetrit. Courtesy of the artist and Nicelle Beauchene Gallery.

Stiler’s sculptural forms reference and reconstruct classical iconography from artist-constructed “rubble.” The ancient-seeming silhouettes are, at first glance, authoritative in their connection to this canon of history. However, closer inspection of their mash-up elements—which conflate imagery and objects that span centuries and societies—reveal the works to be peculiar interpretations of historical reality. Stiler’s distorted quotation
of the familiar and banal classical nude exposes the absence of a single, eternal “truth.”

Kristan Kennedy:
In discussing your past work—and specifically the work for this exhibition—we have talked quite a bit about the relationship of the sculptures to the room. Sight lines, color, and placement; no surface has been overlooked. In some instances it seems like you are controlling the environment and in others it seems like you are reacting/responding to it. Is there an ideal space for your work to exist? Or will you always construct their environment in some way?

Ruby Sky Stiler: I’m preoccupied with where and when an object should end, and with its placement in the room. I think I have a tic for creating rules that assist in my decision making, and help me defer some of this responsibility. (more…)

Christopher MIner

The Safest Place, photo courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

Miner’s video charts a lone man rotating endlessly, floating in an undefined space ship-like interior. As he spins, the figure clasps his knees in perpetual fetal-positioned prayer. Lost in a space of contemplation, he becomes a kind of everyman who quietly reaches out to the great beyond. The music, recorded by Miner, is a reinvented southern spiritual whose song becomes incantation:

No harm have I done on my knees / When you see me on my knees / Come here, Jesus, if you please.

The searcher takes comfort in this act of petition, though his waiting, like the silence of the answer, is infinite.

Kristan Kennedy: What does it mean to be human?

Christopher Miner: Maybe, just to ask that question. Or to try to answer it.

KK: Your work has a slow, methodical, and repetitive pace, which is supported by its beautiful and eerie score. I grew up attending mass every Sunday, and there is something similar in the meditative pacing of your video; even though the figure is suspended in an anti-gravity chamber, it might as well be a church. Can you talk to me about the religious under/overtones in your work, and in particular in The Safest Place?

CM: This video makes me think about man’s ongoing effort to know God. I’ve always liked the idea of space travel as a literal example of man blasting himself into the heavens to gain some kind of connection with an ultimately unknowable expanse. There can be something wonderful about feeling lost, when you’re lost in the presence of something larger than yourself. My own experience growing up in the church was very much focused on the “being found” part—the salvation and redemptive aspects of faith—with a clear suspicion of any mystery or uncertainty. In the video, I like the idea of the old spiritual’s lyric of, “no harm have I done on my knees”, where just the act of subjecting yourself before heaven, like a man in space, is comforting.

KK: When you turn the camera on your life, are you creating a document or a diary? Is the subject you or how you see/feel the world?

CM: I don’t want the subject to ever be about me, or how I feel about the world. I try to use myself and my life as materials to build work from, but I’m never satisfied with any piece that feels like I’m just ‘expressing’ something. Even if the work is 30 minutes of me talking about my life, I try to compress the video and narration down into an impenetrable event for the viewer to experience. I was with a friend of mine once when his father sliced into his own hand with an electric knife while cleaning a fish.

I was standing 2 feet away and when his father raised his hand up from the cutting board there was blood going everywhere and his fingers were hanging from his hand in an unnatural way. It was horrible; but really, my experience viewing this had nothing to do with the actual details of what the man was feeling. I remember looking down at my own hand while he was screaming and it was like I’d never looked at my hand before. I remember thinking that it looked like this beautiful, miracle object, and I was amazed that my brain could control my fingers the way they did. I want my work to function this way: where the events of my life just act as a singular, specific event to create a unique experience for the viewer.

Miner is represented by Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

This conversation was excerpted from a collection of interviews published on the occasion of Human Being, a series of exhibitions, installations, and happenings curated by Kristan Kennedy, for PICA’s 2010 Time-Based Art Festival. You can download a PDF of the full ON SIGHT catalogue here, or pick up a hard copy at the Washington High School galleries (through October 17), or at the PICA Resource Room.

Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger

Untitled (Graves), photo courtesy of the artists and Western Exhibitions, Chicago.

Husband and husband artist team Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger’s art documents the bittersweet rhythms of human relationships. Their work shifts between moments of togetherness and moments of separation, between spaces of private and public, protection and pain, and visibility and invisibility. In Untitled (Graves) , the artists dig, in close proximity to each other, two holes, deep and large enough for each man to lie in. They then dig a small tunnel between the holes that enable them to hold hands while lying in the graves.

Kristan Kennedy: Many of your individual and collaborative performances test the limits of your bodies through exhaustive, repetitive action. How do they test the limits of your mind?

Dutes Miller: Some of our longer performances really test my ability to stay focused or concentrated, which is a limit of the mind. But the limits of my mind are more apt to be tested during the development of a piece; how will the action of the performance work in the world, how could it be interpreted, how do I translate or manifest a concept into a meaningful performance or object?

Stan Shellabarger: I’d have to agree that by the time the performance takes place, we already have prepared ourselves for what lies ahead. Not to say we aren’t surprised sometimes.


Jessica Jackson Hutchins

Piano Print, 2010. Photo courtesy of the artist and Laurel Gitlen, New York.

In Hutchins’ home, the family piano provides both a literal and figurative rhythm to daily life. Transformed from a worn instrument into a body of artwork, the piano inspires a series of woodcut and collaged prints, forms the basis of a sculptural work, and serves as the set for a family and friends music video jam to the song Children of the Sunshine. In Hutchins’ hands, domestic routines and objects blend with empathic and amorphous ceramic forms to stage abstract, yet resolutely human scenes.

Kristan Kennedy: When we last met you talked to me about your frustration with people who dismiss religious zealots, cult leaders, and other visionaries. You likened them to artists in their steadfast beliefs, especially as their ideas relate to the immaterial having value. In relation to this discussion, what makes your art important? Why is it worth defending, pursuing, and believing in?

Jessica Jackson Hutchins: My work is of the utmost importance to me and, by extension, to those right around me whom I directly affect. But I think it is better left to others to evaluate the kind of importance I think you are referring to; that [importance] would be contingent and whimsical and according to politics and the times. (more…)

Ronnie Bass: The Astronomer and 2012

Ronnie Bass, The Astronomer at TBA:10. Photo: Rio.
Ronnie Bass’ videos are narratives of transformation rooted in the ideals of contemporary belief structures. Both 2012 and The Astronomer involve a vision of escape to a better place, and the start of a new world. Against a backdrop of amateur astronomy and housebound experiments, Bass’ synth-driven soundtracks provide soothing affirmations to assuage our hesitancies and fears of a brand new age.
Kristan Kennedy: When we first met, you spoke to me about how the voice of your characters–in this case the Astronomer–was an extension of yourself, related to your natural proclivity to be a sort of constant reassuring presence. At first, it was brought to life by a voice detached from the body (through the computer); what made you attach the voice to a body and moreover, your body?
Ronnie Bass: I was watching Steve Wilson, a musician that I was producing at the time. He would come to the studio and speak, sing, or scream into the microphone and what he wanted to convey was immediate and unquestionable. At the same time, in my own work, I was thinking about how to use prose to depict more internal situations within the course of a narrative.


Charles Atlas: Tornado Warning

tba10_theworks_091610_ 8
Charles Atlas, Tornado Warning at TBA:10. Photo: kerosene rose.
With a career in filmmaking that spans nearly four decades, Charles Atlas has been called the “court portraitist of the American choreography and post-punk scenes.” His work has ranged from gallery installations to live video performances to documentary collaborations with artists including Merce Cunningham and Marina Abramovic. In this five-channel video installation, Atlas contrasts an orderly space with a chaotic environment of sound and images that evoke memories of his personal history and reflect a culture in constant flux.

Kristan Kennedy:
Tornado Warning is a rush of images and sound, all of it together acting as an alarm of some sort. When discussing the piece, you have described it as referencing your childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, and the awareness that, with the storm alerts, came anxiety, preparation, wonder, and fear. The soundtrack traverses many decades, with strong, relentless passages of eighties industrial music. It is this music in particular that evokes memories of other threats against us past and present: AIDS, war, political upheaval… When you started delving into your personal memory and experience for the piece, did you expect that it would speak to a greater cultural chaos?
Charles Atlas: The origins of this piece really started with a vague feeling I was experiencing of anxiety, apprehension, dread, and concern, directly related to what I felt was going on in the wider world. As with many of my art works, I began to collect images as a way to find out what I was thinking and feeling; the ones that stuck became my guideposts.


Oh Wow

ON SIGHT Salon: Storm Tharp
Storm Tharp: High House
Friday Sept 10 – Sunday Oct 17
THE WORKS at Washington High School
Posted by: Nicole Leaper
Photos by: kerosenerose
tba10_theworks_091610_ 46
tba10_theworks_091610_ 41
A large window framing a collection of thriving potted plants. A video of sunlight through an open door, curtains blowing in the breeze. A central pedestal with stairs ascending towards the ceiling, prompting a circular exploration of the room. A fan blowing sheer flags gently towards a hanging pendant brushed with the words “I’m sorry”. A tiny dancing figure under a plexiglas vitrine on an antique table. A wall of dripping, monochromatic canvases. An oversized mural of iconic actresses, drawn in pastel shades. Stacks of newspapers and books (Alaska, California) and a spoonful of melted ice cream. A collection of colors in glass jars labeled with enigmatic titles (“Dirty Tan Pants”, “Beachy Night”).


It’s Got A Good Beat…You Can Dance To It

Dan Gilsdorf: Diabolus in Musica: TBA On Sight: The Works
Dan Gilsdorf, Diabolus in Musica
Posted by Michael Evans

In a dimly lit classroom, a small vocal group stands almost motionless on a simple raised platform, They harmonize a steady ominous tone–a sound supposedly banned by the Catholic Church back in the 18th Century day . The stage and edges around the room are ringed by a white powder. Is it salt to ward off evil spirits? Or priests?
I know what you’re thinking. Hey, is this the new episode of “Glee”?


Excitable Boy

tba10_MikeDaisey_091010 (79)
Mike Daisey, Notes Toward All The Hours in the Day
Posted by Michael Evans

Mike Daisey set the bar high with his terrific show, “The Agony & Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” during the first weekend of TBA. Would its successor be rave worthy or a raving disappointment?


in the stacks

ON SIGHT: Nina Katchadourian: Sorted Books
September 2 – October 23 Every Day, 10 am – 7 pm
Feldman Gallery + Project Space
Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA)
Posted by: Nicole Leaper
Photos by: Sara Regan
Nina Katchadourian: Sorted Books: TBA10: On Sight
Nina Katchadourian‘s Sorted Books is installed against a vivid red background in the Feldman Gallery at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). The intense color accentuates photographs of books spines against black backdrops lined up in neat rows on the gallery’s walls. Katchadourian’s book-sorting projects began in 1993 and continue through the present. For each project, she visits a personal or public library and selects and stacks books so titles can be read in sequence. She has produced over 130 book clusters to date, and her current show at PNCA is comprised of sortings at six different libraries from 1993 through 2008.
Nina Katchadourian: Sorted Books: TBA10: On Sight


The Highs and Lows of Audience Participation

Emily Johnson/Catalyst/ The Thank-you Bar
Emily Johnson/Catalyst, The Thank-you Bar
The Wooster Group, There Is Still Time…Brother
Eric Fredericksen & Weekend Leisure, Karaoke & Authenticity
Posted By: Jimmy Radosta
Photo By: Marty Schnapf
Every year at TBA, I look forward to seeing how performers invite audience participation. It can quickly change the dynamic of a show, especially when the material isn’t strongly connecting with the crowd.
Emily Johnson’s The Thank-you Bar is a good example. The dancer/choreographer shared random memories from her native Alaska while holding up signs describing objects in the room: “This is my amp,” “Vaux swifts live in this beam,” etc. It all felt rather disjointed and precious, and the complex, multilayered music from Blackfish didn’t mesh with her whimsical tone. However, Johnson kept the audience involved when she brought out an illuminated “igloo” that she then deconstructed, distributing one translucent paper “brick” to each viewer. (It was an attempt, I believe, to literally deconstruct the myth that Native people live in dwellings made from ice.) Johnson then invited us to gather around an inflated kiddie pool filled with leaves while she told one final story about the resilient blackfish. It created an intimate atmosphere that captured my attention, despite the show’s shortcomings.
Meanwhile, The Wooster Group provided my favorite interactive experience of the festival when it let audience members sit in the director’s chair, so to speak, during There Is Still Time…Brother. The 360-degree film surrounded several swivel seats, and the person sitting in the middle of the room controlled a virtual “peephole” window that determined which portion of the film would be spotlighted. It was a compelling exercise that made every screening unique.
Unfortunately, audience participation doesn’t always enhance a performance. Last night’s finale at THE WORKS promised a karaoke party featuring music videos by Weekend Leisure, while Seattle-based curator Eric Fredericksen presented a lecture examining “Karaoke & Authenticity.” It could have been a fantastic experiment to let the audience command the same stage where we had been entertained for the past 10 days. But instead, most of the singers seemed to be preselected friends of the KJ, and Fredericksen’s lecture spent more time analyzing the 1968 Rolling Stones documentary Sympathy for the Devil than discussing the merits of karaoke culture.
In the end, it felt like nothing more than an exclusive karaoke party with a $10 cover charge, while an academic delivered a dull, sloppy lecture to justify his “research” at the karaoke bars of Berlin. (And you were screwed even if you avoided the auditorium, because THE WORKS shut down all of the video installations early.) A disappointing finish to an otherwise impressive festival.

If They Lived Happily Ever After They Would Have Gotten a Divorce

Nature Theatre of Oklahoma
Romeo and Juliet
Posted by Ariel Frager
My father-in-law is a college professor. One day after class he overheard a couple of his students talking. One said to the other, “You know I like Shakespeare but he is so full of clichés.” What we don’t know about Shakespeare is immense. The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma brings this to life by asking people to recount what they remember about Romeo and Juliet. Two actors then retold their exact and often incorrect musing about the play. It was a performance about memory, and about trying to sounds smart. We laughed at the funny accentuated accents, we laughed at the hilarious overacting, but really we laughed because most of us in the audience could do no better a job of recounting the finer points of Romeo and Juliet than the poor schmucks the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma called.
By far the most interesting part was the very funny commentary the callers made about the play. “Had they not killed themselves and had lived happily ever after, I feel that they would have gotten a divorce,” said one insightful caller. Another said, “To me, it was kind of like 9/11.” And another, “They were bad parents. If they had let them fuck each other silly it would have all been OK.” This very simple concept was taken to the very silliest degree. It never stopped being funny when they got the plot points wrong. And there was also an erotically dancing chicken. What more could you ask from a night at the theatre.

Holding a Piece of Her Tiny Igloo

Emily Johnson/Catalyst
The Thank-You Bar
Posted by Ariel Frager
It didn’t happen intentionally, but for me at this year’s TBA, the best performance was saved for last. I was an invited guest into Emily Johnson’s inventive little world. One part dance, one part soundscape, one part storytelling, one part quirky otherness brought a wide grin to my face and I didn’t look at my watch even once.
Johnson and musicians James Everest and Joel Pickard played with the space, light and sound, reinventing the traditional performance and surrounding us in the audience with sound and movement in every corner of the theatre. We were a small group, the performance limited audience members to only 30 in number, so before the show, I had already felt like I won the lottery when I was chosen to get in from the waiting list. They brought in us, literally having the audience turn around to face the back of the theatre and then get up off our chairs and sit on the floor while Johnson told us the story about blackfish while sitting in a dry leaf filled kiddy pool bed. As a Native American from Alaska, Johnson played with our stereotypes of her people and wheeled out a Tiny Igloo, made from opaque boxes filled with lights. Each brick/box lit up the darkened theatre space and when Johnson handed me a piece of her igloo, I felt special as if this magic light held the key to something important. From the audience lists, put on “Hello my name is” stickers with each of our names. When I saw her wearing for a split second, the Hello my name is Ariel sticker I knew that this piece was for me and about me. We were important. The stories were for us, about us, even though they were about Johnson. The best parts of The Thank You Bar, were a lot like the best parts of my annual TBA immersion: touching that part of myself where I can see and feel myself reflected in the performance. And the very best pieces are the ones where I walk out of the theatre and say, “I wish I had thought of that.” And so it was. Thank you Emily Johnson.

you Pole mine I’ll Pole yours

Radoslaw Rychcik/Stefan Zeromski Theatre
In the Solitude of Cotton Fields
posted by: dirtybombpdx
Are self-hating fags by definition homophobic? Toward the end of In the Solitude of Cotton Fields a video montage plays showing bestial acts, acts of violence, drag queens, gay sex, cocks, tits, some psuedo-nihilistic captions and an animated Madonna from Who’s That Girl. I think it’s meant to be scary and shocking, and possibly some sort of commentary on present morality, but what it most definitely is, is banal (and way too long). Like the entirety of the show, everything goes on far too long and is at too high a decibel level. The two actors look cool enough in their retro black suits, white cocks, I mean socks, and loafers, and are quite self-possessed, taking turns rattling off their esoteric “poetry” about cruising each other in the dark. But all the screaming into the mics and forced laughter and Polish and tears are, aside from my bleeding eardrums, sadly laughable and totally HOMOPHOBIC. Or could this possibly be a parody ala Spinal Tap? (certainly the volume was at 11). Was I punked? I think, unfortunately, it was all meant in earnest and is basically a circle-jerk for the actors and director. Everything about the piece is tired, from the suits to the bass and drum score (so 90′s, played live by Natural Born Chillers), to the idea that gay love by definition must be aberrant or torturous or nihilistic (so Reagan 80′s). Good god, no wonder most of the planet runs screaming from anything labeled performance art. Really? You want me to pay you money so you can scream in my face and tell me I’m damned? I’m just glad the cute one stripped so I could see his uncircumcised penis. Because like all self-hating fags, all I really want out of life is anonymous cock.

Swivel Cinema

The Wooster Group, There is Still Time…Brother
Posted by Michael Evans

The nagging question was raised more than once –is the concept more important than the art at TBA?


I have to catch my memory for a moment

Nature Theater of Oklahoma
performance: Romeo and Juliet
noon-time chat: The Telephone Game
posted by: laura becker
photo by: Rio
During Thursday’s noon-time chat, Kelly Cotton of Nature Theater of Oklahoma admitted that, as artists working in New York City during the past couple of decades, she and colleagues sometimes felt like they couldn’t get away from The Wooster Group. It seems Wooster is treated as the industry-standard of success for avant-garde theatre in New York, in caliber, creativity, and available technology and funds. As the TBA festival continues, I’m starting to know how they feel. It’s been hard for me to get away from my impressions of the various layers of the Wooster piece when watching and thinking about everything since, and even performances of past years (specifically Hand2Mouth’s Repeat After Me from 2007, but I’ll save those thoughts for a different post). Actually, the only real reminder of TIST…B I had while giggling my way through R&J was the notion that in both pieces it all depends on who’s in the director’s chair. Both render ultimate control to, respectively, who is swiveling in the hot seat, and who’s on the other end of the telephone. I guess I could add that actors in both pieces had audio prompts fed into their ears to both distract and inform them during the performance.


Art 1, Nature 0

PICA TBA 10-Offsite Dance Project On Thirteenth, Featuring Yukio Suzuki and Zan Yamashita 09-17-10
On Thirteenth, Featuring Yukio Suzuki and Zan Yamashita, Curated by Offsite Dance Project
Posted By: Jimmy Radosta
Photo By: Gordon Wilson
For me, the best moments of TBA take the audience out of traditional performance venues and onto the streets of Portland. Remember in 2007 when Gary Wiseman threw a “Silent Tea Party” on the campus of Reed College, or in 2009 when Tyler Wallace and Nicole Dill invited us to listen in on their private conversation in the parking lot outside Washington High School?
On Thirteenth, a two-part performance curated by Offsite Dance Project, took advantage of two very different spaces last night along Northwest 13th Avenue: inside Pacific Northwest College of Art and outside Bridgeport Brewery. In the first segment, choreographer Zan Yamashita read rapid-fire instructions to Ezra Dickinson, creating a crowd-pleasing blend of verbal gymnastics and physical movement.
Next up was the real endurance test: Amid a dreary downpour, the crowd filed out of PNCA and walked a few blocks down the street, where we huddled under umbrellas to see Yukio Suzuki sprawled on the railing of a balcony, fully exposed to the elements. The weather only enhanced the bleak material: As the performer slowly sprang to life, he launched into a brutal cycle of death and reanimation, inflating a white balloon, tumbling down a set of stairs, throwing himself on the wet pavement and climbing a rusty ladder to a nearby rooftop, where he howled into a chimney. It was a demonstration of true commitment to one’s craft and easily the site-specific highlight of this year’s festival.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Stage?

Dayna Hanson, Gloria’s Cause
Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Romeo & Juliet
Posted By: Jimmy Radosta
Photo By: Rio
That question has been burning in my mind ever since I noticed a strange trend at this year’s festival.
Nature Theater of Oklahoma ruffled my feathers when a performer wearing a chicken costume arrived in the middle of Romeo & Juliet, in which an actor and an actress take turns clumsily describing the Shakespearean tragedy. Their fuzzy recollections are crass (Paris supposedly visited Juliet’s deathbed to “jerk off” on her corpse), their pronunciations are butchered (“balcony” becomes “bal-COE-ny”), and their tangents are random (9/11, Anna Nicole Smith, a loss of virginity). It’s like having high art filtered through the mind of a pothead Sarah Palin. The end result is goofy and unpredictable at times, but the joke quickly wears thin. Nature Theater of Oklahoma impressed me at past TBA Festivals by fusing amusing scenarios with its uniquely juvenile choreography, but Romeo & Juliet offered minimal movement…except for the chicken that showed up intermittently, for unknown reasons.
Dayna Hanson was similarly bird-brained when a performer wearing a bald eagle mask inexplicably showed up in Gloria’s Cause, an off-key rock musical inspired by the American Revolution. In this case, the national symbol at least loosely matched the patriotic proceedings, but I’m crying fowl.

Blips of light in the darkness

Emily Johnson The Thank-you Bar
Posted by: Ariana JacobEmilyJohnson.jpg
Dimly glowing blocks of metaphorical igloo ice handed out to everyone
Dreamy layers of sound at times building slowly, at times appearing suddenly throughout the room
360 degrees of stage around the audience fading away into darkness
The realer side of the magical realism moments where Emily includes herself, the history of the building and some exit signs into the performance
Time to think about relationships with place in the North West
Leg muscles
Heavy handed metaphors: an endless stack of name-tags = oh, all our shifting identities, the fish that can’t be dissected = well, somethings just can’t be studied, only known in their own contexts
The uncomfortably practiced performance of sincere in-the-moment-ness
Lots of jumping around

Felt Noelle dissolve her mammal bod into an alliance with the rest of material existence via the gateway drug of deceptively non-subversive pillow-like objects.

Danielle Kelly + Noelle Stiles "Blanket"
Danielle Kelly and Noelle Stiles, Blanket
Posted by: Robert Tyree
Blanket is aptly named; it felt really nice inside. Hugging helped. Nice to have the work’s aesthetic live inside me in a harmonious sensation; no small feat.
I was set up by magic: the moment my tactile experience of getting fresh with my dream pillow-sculpture echoed aurally in the idyllic installation space. How long were Lucy and I creating the pre-show sound score before it clicked that we were? I bet other (more knowing) audience members watched our discovery wistfully, vicariously re-living their own, moments passed, crystalline realization.
On the way to the show I was almost killed. Some car driver on NE Weidler probably thought that that text message, or tea-party-express radio interview, was so important that you could just assume the light at the intersection of 7th Avenue was green. 40 to 0 in no time flat, but an ugly smell. Luckily she looked up and realized I was there on my bike, ready to die, right?


Maria Hassabi SoloShow

Maria Hassabi

posted by Kirsten Collins
At the TBA in a Nutshell chat, Cathy Edwards suggested Maria Hassabi’s SoloShow as a piece that would particularly appeal to visual artists. Hassabi uses her body as sculpture, creating a collage of representations of women throughout art history and popular culture.
photo by Rio
Hassabi dances on an elevated square platform, which at times evokes a pedestal, at others a bed. The dance is comprised of a series of postures, strung together like a slide show.
Hassabi remains a canvas throughout, void of personality or motivation. Dressed in loose white pants and shirt, hair drawn back in a bun, Hassabi is largely sexless. There is no flirtation, no feminizing. At several moments, I was reminded of fashion magazines with models casually leaning against ridiculous props, bodies slouched akimbo to seem more sexy. Rather than make these postures look effortless, Hassabi’s twitching muscles and stern expression emphasize her unnaturally contorted state. But overall, she does not offer an explicit commentary on the way women have been portrayed through the ages, and instead lets the movements speak for themselves.



Danielle Kelly + Noelle Stiles: Blanket
Blanket Space, 1100 NW Glisan
posted by: dirtybombpdx
Non-narrative solo performance is extremely difficult to pull off, but especially so at 45 minutes in length. Having heard (and seen) so much about this show and the art installation aspect of it, I have to admit, I was sadly under-whelmed by the “blanket space”. The soft sculptures hanging in the space at 11th and Glisan are lumpy pastel sacks that, in their messy whimsy, would be pretty light fare if shown in a gallery setting. A few of the sacks are wired for sound and when touched create an interactive music-scape (an original score is credited to Unrecognizable Now). Given the opportunity to explore the interactivity between dancer, object and sound, the resulting score, like the space, is less than dynamic, and ironically, feels completely unoriginal (late 80′s New Age. I wanted to light a scented candle). The choreography, though not completely uninteresting, at times borders on parody. The opening 10 minutes (it may have been less, but felt twice that long) has Ms. Stiles seated on a puffy chair with a giant stylized pillow on her head and right arm as she slowly (way way too slowly) looks for the most comfortable way to sit. I nearly laughed and/or walked out. The piece takes a tremendous amount of effort on Ms. Stiles part and I applaud her commitment. But though there are some interesting shapes and cadences to be had mid-floor, overall there is very little of compelling interest. I’ve seen a fair amount of contemporary dance of late and I’m realizing how very difficult it is to come up with something compelling AND original (then again, the same could be said about any of the creative mediums).

Ghost Story

Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland, First Love
Posted by: Liam Drain
    First Love’s narrator claims his recollection (fractured by significant memory lapses and meandering tangents) of meeting a woman on a bench, reluctantly occupying a room in her apartment and leaving her as she gives birth to their child, is the story of his first love and only love.  The character, drawn directly from that ubiquitous cohort of lonely, isolated, angry male characters who somehow evoke sympathy and interest again and again, might be dead.  He is certainly speaking from outside of the world.  As essentially misanthropic and unlikable as First Love’s sole character is, the way he understands love, his single experience of love, is so profoundly impoverished and incongruous with the conventions of romance (which may be fraught with all kinds of political complications, but they’re better than nothing and at least we get some good pop songs out of them), his claim of love raises an uncomfortable question about the intelligibility of a central human experience. 


Get Thee to THE WORKS

Posted by Mead Hunter
Okay, Nature Theater of Oklahoma‘s Romeo and Juliet closes TONIGHT, so let me just say: do not miss this final performance. Whether Shakespeare’s famous text last baffled you in high school or you’ve suffered countless outdoor summer performances of it or you’ve actually trod the boards with it, this affectionate mish-mash is a laugh-out-loud epiphany.



Radoslaw Rychcik/Stefan Zeromski Theatre, In The Solitude of Cotton Fields
Posted by: Forrest Martin
Photo by: Gordon Wilson
PICA TBA 10 In the Solitude of Cotton Fields by Radoslaw Rychcik/Stefan Zeromski Theatre 09-17-10 Winningstad Theatre
In The Solitude of Cotton Fields is what you’d get by steeping a bag of A Clockwork Orange in an expensive tumbler of crazy Polish water. Set to a relentless, live drum ‘n bass soundtrack, two men wax philosophic/poetic about cruising each other on a dark street. The eternally literary back and forth – as they take turns spilling their respective, cerebral views in the form of rock-opera monologues – does nothing to personally pull me into a narrative (the whole show is in Polish, and subtitled, so you can’t get too involved in fixing your attention on any one person for long – though the projected subtitles make for an arresting visual effect). You could call this show “communication”, but not “entertainment”. I left the 75 minute production battered, aware that the actors just gave strenuous performances (they’re both impressively self-commanding), but the screaming, naked catharsis was for them, not me.

Out of the Storm, a Star: Video Installation, Tornado Warning, a Must-See

Charles Atlas / Tornado Warning
Posted by: John Wilmot
For sheer energy, it’s hard to beat Tornado Warning by video artist Charles Atlas. Easily my favorite TBA 10 installation at The Works, the two rooms of projections offer very different but equally exciting experiences. Inspired by memories from his Midwestern childhood of — you guessed it — tornado warnings, the videos capture both the tense anticipation and the ensuing chaos of a life altering force of nature.
The first room offers a single video, but it is the star of the show. Beginning with bars of white light; nervously pulsating, splitting, multiplying, they gradually become a large grid. The grid recedes slowly; the glowing lines against black seem to get farther away. Then they creep out of the flat screen, along the floor and walls, seeming to envelop us in mathematically delineated Newtonian space, bringing us into the world where something gravely serious is about to happen.


Finishing the Job

TBA Wooster Group-21
The Wooster Group/There is Still Time..Brother
Posted by Jim Withington
There’s a lot to consider in The Wooster Group‘s There is Still Time..Brother. How long should I stay? Should I sit in the control seat, and if so, when? And most importantly: what am I missing when I choose to watch something else?


All Undressed and No Place to Go: T & A at TBA Leaves Much to Be Desired

John Jasperse Company
Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, & Flat Out Lies
Posted by: John Wilmot
It’s hard not to appreciate tits and ass. I, for one, think they’re totally awesome. So it’s not a good sign that, in a show positively bursting with titillation, I had to struggle to stay awake.

tba10_John Jasperse Company-Truth, Revised Histories Wishful Thinking and Flat Out Lies 09-16-10 (2)

Don’t get me wrong; the John Jasperse Company delivered everything you could want in a dance performance, including those bare breasts and butts. With thoroughly professional dancers, well rehearsed moves, and simple but intelligent costume and set design, I wanted to like the show. The problem was that there was just too much of it. Every sequence went on far too long. Every gesture lingered interminably, and every frozen pause stagnated. Even the music was too loud and the lights too bright. It was like a friend who keeps explaining a point, trying to make sure you “get it.” You just want to yell, “I get it! I get it! Let’s move on.”


A Virtuous Circle

posted by laura becker
I had the immense pleasure of pondering the technology richness behind the Wooster Group’s There Is Still Time..Brother, through my two hours inside its center (over a couple of visits) and the panel discussion with the makers of it, before stepping into Mike Daisey’s little-technology-needed simple set of a chair, a desk and a glass of water for his monologue, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.
Daisey is a lover of all things Apple and hater of all things Microsoft, but the only tool he needed for his performance was the power of his voice. Through his deft descriptions of the pointlessness of power point presentations, his grand gestures of the gospel of Macintosh, and his intertwined stories of the history of Jobs’ career and the capitalist gluttony of China, Daisey left the audience aching in laughter and yet heartbroken by the sad state of global economic greed.
Daisey’s dry sense of self-effacing humor almost disguised his own heroic evolution in his story. He starts out as a somewhat blind user of every new thing Apple puts out, but his obsessive reading of tech blogs leads him to a discovery of factory conditions that is just too horrid to ignore. By the end of his journey he’s become a Hawaiian-shirt wearing missionary of human rights, prodding the audience to join his army of informed activists. We are now all complicit in Apple’s slave-driving unless we use our new knowledge and our combined power as consumers to influence their work ethic.
While I loved the magic behind the Wooster Group’s installation, I felt a bit like a victim of false-advertising, since its “anti-war” promise was mostly lost in the shuffle of the needed concentration to absorb all the competing narratives and images on laptops that criscross the 360-degree screen. It is precisely Daisey’s drastically different use of theatrics, a spare set, a solo spotlight and a stirring story, that ingeniously inspires the ultimate interactivity of his audience with his message and his mission. But it is positively the fact that I can have both these experiences to ponder in one day that makes each one richer, and that is why I fucking love this festival.

A historically vast secret hide-out

Anissa Mack at The Lumber Room
Posted by: Ariana Jacob
calder on kawara.jpg
image by Ryan Wilson Paulsen
When I entered the Lumber Room I thought I was going to see an exhibition of Anissa Mack’s work, so I was surprised to find an open, half living-space/half gallery filled with work by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Lee Bontecou, On Kawara and Yves Klein.
Anissa Mack’s work is in there too, but what she has graciously offered us is her particular curation of the space’s owner Sara Meigs’ impressive contemporary art collection. Anissa used her several week long residence in the Lumber Room to finish one of her “space-age craft” optically distorting quilts and make a site specific installation, which are both on display. But her time was largely spent looking through Meigs’ collections and pulling together a group show of works by major artists that speak to her own art. And while we don’t have the free reign to do our own thumbing through this collection we still get to feel an unusual intimacy with it just by entering this place.
When do you get a chance to spend casual, homey time with works of art of this level of historical significance?
This is a private space so go see it while they are opening their doors to us.
The Lumber Room 419 NW 9th

Fret not thine chuckle.

Nature Theater of Oklahoma: Romeo and Juliet
Posted by: Robert Tyree
“Fret not thine chuckle.”
-Made up Shakespeare by me.
Double backing, second guessing, hemming and hawing, WITH CRAZY GUSTO!
Romeo and Juliet operates through a slew of connections that reveal more about the recaller than the recalled. Shakespeare’s slaughtered text becomes a vehicle fueled and driven by contemporary memories and associations, careening about aimlessly. I care less about the make and model of the vehicle than the weight and momentum of its movement. Which is to say the stammering slang and staccato sort-of-sentences pipping from fabulous performers carried me across giggle land.


butt-clenching art

John Jasperse Company
Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking & Flat-out Lies
PSU, Lincoln Hall
posted by: dirtybombpdx
Let’s have, like, an offensive rap song (but we’ll use it ironically) blast the audience while the dancers…well, who cares what they do, because I’ll be doing this really funny comedy bit in the middle of it all. Then there will be this butt-clench spotlight dance with the women in sequined shorty dresses. Yeah, I like it. And the rest of the choreography will be derivative to the point of banality. Yeah, I’m smelling a fellowship here. Then some more comedy…wait, is anything really that funny anymore, I mean, with the economy and the war and global warming and everything? Oh right, yeah, the butt-clench dance…30 seconds of funny (or mildly funny…I heard a chuckle, or was that the AC kicking on). And since, like, the butt-clenching is so genius and everything, I’ll have them butt clench in the pink/red blossom, matching swim-wear and umbrella beach scene – the scene with the muscle-stud cabana boy delivering pink cocktails. Now that’s comedy. Somebody will laugh. Right? Now for the art part. Hmm, hold on, it’s coming to me. Okay, I’ve got it, I’ve got it: titties and sweaty ass-holes, oh and men in body-stockings smelling girl’s crotches. Deep. The money’s gonna pour in. And the smoke machine, Jesus, I’ve never seen such good smoke. Maybe it could be a metaphor for something. Yeah, that’s what it is, a metaphor, a really good, thought-provoking metaphor followed by a lot of silence – a whole lot of silence. Then some more cheesy jokey stuff, or whatever, and then we’ll make everyone leave the theater for intermission*. They won’t know what the fuck is going on. We’ll get a standing O for sure. Should there be more smoke?
*some of us didn’t come back.


John Jasperse Company, Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, & Flat Out Lies
Posted by: Forrest Martin
The total virtue and variable of art is that it doesn’t have to make sense, and that’s why it clears a special place for freedom. Not shit patriotic freedom, but the abstract, untethered practices of reframing and reorganizing culture and medically cleansing your eyes. So why am I so irritated when something doesn’t make any sense? I enjoy abstraction, and leaving things unexplained; but inside of anything I’ve ever enjoyed that had a dense or random exterior, a chord of excitement – that certain conventions were being freshly distorted or even ignored – was touched, which makes it’s own kind of sense. And the problem with aiming to do something fresh and unexpected is that it actually needs to be unexpected, and a lot of crap happens all the time, so newness fatigue, or over-it-ness, or, you know, Haters, come in and feed on the injured deer. That’s a different kind of shame, because while in nature that deer just needs to die, in art it may just need better funding, a good director, or more practice. Still, I’m playing the role of the lion tonight.

No offense to T:BA, but this is the show I was expecting to find myself at at some point this week. And being that I’m dumb when it comes to dance, it makes sense that this would be the genre. Still, you can’t have an arts festival without experimentation and risks, and experimental risks often turn out flat, or terrible. The title (Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, & Flat Out Lies) is pretty indistinct, and well suited for the piece, as both represent a three or four pronged road that could still use heavy construction in order to lead to any destination I’d be interested in visiting.
If you like children’s parties, and clowns, and the whole concept of “clowning” (like Clown School), you should see this show this weekend. It will warm your feelings to see four – sometimes five – people self-consciously reveal their humanity and lack of intimidating technique. You will also be exposed to a grab bag of idea fragments as well as fun, silly dancing and free-form experimentation sort of like the first and last ten minutes of most improv dance classes. But if you’d rather watch that then do that, you can. Here. For $25.
On the other hand, no one in their right mind could contest the fact that the opening number dresses were mesmerizing. Especially during the spot-lit butt dance, when they cast a subtle disco-ball effect on the whole auditorium. If you have to, go for the dresses, and the riveting slow-motion fight scene (which is after the intermission, unfortunately – otherwise you could leave early and still make it to the Fox Tower or the Broadway Metroplex right down the street). That was the single stretch where I wasn’t aware of my body in it’s seat, or the time, or my dismay. Also, the lighting and minimal set design were great (that huge, white, back wall with a full thirty-foot bar of light slowly scanning down, then up, just like a Xerox machine – with the same dry/white/bleak quality to the light).

I’m not really sure where this show fits; if it thinks of itself as experimentally trodding new territory, or as a simple exaltation of somber-faced insincerity, punctuated by furtive stabs at actual sincerity. It’s wacky and zany, and the players clearly relish taking liberties with dance and doing it imperfectly. This is spelled out for us – still, I craved seeing more synchronization, because there were times when it was intended, just not delivered. They also enjoy physical comedy, and I don’t. But a lot of people do, and 70% of those people are between 4 and 13, and I think they would really get a kick out of this show. Even though there was partial nudity and full jock-strap thrusting, it was pretty medical…I think that scene could be passed off as an anatomy lesson. But 8:30-10:30 is way too late for that demographic.

Poetic Films Get Poetic Blogging

HARD EDGE/ HARD WORK Short films by Kate Gilmore and Maya Deren
Posted by Tall Matt Haynes
PROLOGUE: It’s 12:07am on Friday, September 17th. Tall Matt Haynes doesn’t think he has any use for the short films of Kate Gilmore and Maya Deren (screened muuuuuuuch earlier between 6:30 and 7:30pm). Nonetheless, Tall Matt Haynes knows that he’s responsible for reporting on these films. After 10 false starts,Tall Matt Haynes finally comes up with a strategy: Just report the content of the films and use poetic forms to have some fun with it. Here we go:
Kate Gilmore: “Walk This Way”

A wall is confining Miss Kate,
Unaware of its now-certain fate.
She bashes right through
With her gloves and her shoes:
Such is modern womanhood’s state?
Maya Deren: “Witches Cradle”

Strings slither and wind.
A doe-eyed witch looks stressed out.
The strings bind Duchamp.

Kate Gilmore: “Standing Here”
(Blank Verse)

Kate’s climbing up the walls, quite literally.
She pounds out holes to give her grips and steps.
The goal is not to bash full-though as in
The last short film, but to climb up and out.
Maya Deren: Ritual In Transfigured Time

This is a story of a nervous young sweet
Who at a socialite dance party meets
A lean muscled man who follows her, leaping
As the nervous young sweet takes flight, nearly weeping.
She throws here self into a lake, she’s so frightened.
She floats down and opens her eyes (now enlightened?)

Kate Gilmore: Between A Hard Place
(Six Word Story)

She finally breaks through to yellow.


Radoslaw Rychcik/Stefan Zeromski Theatre: In the Solitude of Cotton Fields
Posted by: Robert Tyree

A few days ago, I saw this video of a Jay-Z concert with crazy amazing effects and it’s been in the back of my mind throughout the festival; like where are those overwhelming intensities?
I’ve been doing at least four hours of performance every day for a week now, so… you know, my art callus is beginning to grow a bit as I come across novelties that aren’t so novel the second piece around. Can’t help but marvel at how trends/streams-in-the-zeitgeist manifest themselves across continents of contemporary artists (last year it was overhead projectors). My patience for mediocrity is exhausted. Each piece is bound to have a few magnificent moments. At this point, I’m honing in on how skillfully (or not) time is being orchestrated to carry the length of the piece.
Dog-gawn, you’d think I was a’livin’ in one of them grand, honkin’ CI-TAY-S.
Yeah, I imagine many of us are starting to raise our bars a bit and calibrate the criteria for what qualifies a work’s success. Often we see time-based pieces where slow, soft, meditative content massages our sensitivities open, like art oral sex, building up an elasticity so that a truly moving POP might emerge in sharp distinction.
We get the opposite with Radoslaw Rychcik/Stefan Zeromski Theatre. THIS IS LOUD AND INTENSE MOST OF THE TIME AND WE GET THE pop in a few, mercifully soft moments bEfOrE WE’RE BACK IN THE BARRAGE! As an audience member I found this refreshing and whole-bodied. The piece plowed down my distracting, egotistical, intellectual tendencies and washed me in some carnal pleasures: screams, syncopated movements, and locked-down techno jams.


Boy or Girl?

Shirin Neshat Women Without Men
Stephanie Snyder Hard Edge/Hard Work: Women and Abstraction
Films at the NW Film Center
Posted by: Ariana Jacob
I’ve found that it is generally a bad idea to bring up feminism in public because most people just instinctively stop listening and mentally or physically walk away. I can feel that impulse in myself at times, but something about how potentially annoying and difficult it is to think about gender makes me want to do it more.
During this TBA season the NW Film Festival’s Whitsell Auditorium has hosted several films made by women about the condition of being women. Shirin Neshat’s
Women Without Men is a visually gorgeous, deeply saturated film about women in Iran during the 1950′s. Stephanie Snyder’s curated series, Hard Edge/Hard Work: Women and Abstraction, is a satisfyingly tight collection of historic films by Maya Deren brought into direct contact with video work by Kate Gilmore made in the last couple of years – one of which was shown at this year’s Whitney Biennial.
I appreciate these films as experiential tools for thinking about the legacy of feminism and what it means that we are gendered people in gendered cultures. Both viewings present women wrestling for and holding power and agency, yet they represent that strength as existing within unresolved, confining and confusing horizons.


Drug Deal Gone Trippy

Radoslaw Rychcik/Stefan Zeromski Theatre: IN THE SOLITUDE OF COTTON FIELDS
Posted by Tall Matt Haynes
PROLOGUE: It’s 10:10 on the Wednesday night, September 15th. For the fifth and final time, Tall Matt Haynes frantically turns the key in his battery-dead car before yielding to the given circumstances. After he makes the embarrassed phone call and before the roadside repair does in 30 seconds what he probably couldn’t have figured out in 30 hours, Tall Matt Haynes sits back and reflects: Perhaps this car trouble was really divine post-show intervention? Did Tall Matt Haynes need a cold splash of domestic slog to put his system back into neutral? ‘Cause moments after experiencing IN THE SOLITUDE OF COTTON FIELDS at the Winningstad,Tall Matt Haynes had indeed floated back to his car in a state that may have made him dangerous behind the wheel…


Adventures in Hyperspace

Tunnels & Woolly Mammoth Comes to Dinner
posted by: Seth Nehil
photo by: C. Lang
There’s a new blossoming of absurdist psychedelic performance in Portland, a thing I hesitate to name. I like the hyper-collaboration of interconnected collectives – The Slaves, OPS, Tunnels, Woolly Mammoth, White Rainbow, Miracles Club, etc. These are lessons on hybridity and mutation, a recombining of parts in both aesthetic and functional terms. These performances feel like a hologram unearthed – a message via time-space wormhole. They’re strongly cinematic and display a fascination with the striking images of nightmares. I can’t decide if the mood is nostalgic or futuristic – perhaps a “retro-futurist space-age nostalgia”. They’re not afraid to use special-FX and heavy affectation, to highlight the artificial, to be so-bad-it’s-good or just blatantly weird. Fog machines and strobing images are obvious but effective. It feels right to me.


Women Without Men (in Tehran, 1953)

Shirin Neshat
Women Without Men
NW Film Center/Whitsell Auditorium @PAM
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Posted by Eve Connell

The final showing (of five) of Women Without Men, and the house was packed. Word certainly must have got out. The powerful opening images in this extraordinary film resonate days later, and vividly at that. Stark rooftops in Tehran. The back of a woman’s head, each strand of her hair in sharp focus. A pale blue sky. Variegated gray tones of a cobbled sidewalk, patio, portico.
The beautiful imagery throughout Neshat’s film never ends. From city scenes to intimate views of homes, gardens, verandas to countryside orchards, forests, roads, and streams, the vibrant colors and lush detail of this part of the world magically appear before us.
And, so do rich, full characters whose lives intersect with a heavily contextualized social/political backdrop. The snapshot views presented of the women offer glimpse enough into their lives and their experiences. The nearly fantastical way these characters cross paths flows, too, with not much care to logic. This storyline works.
The coup in this story is not solely relegated to that of the British and American forces of this chaotic time in history and place. The personal/psychological coup that each woman experiences on her own, and in some cases with witnesses, is deeply charged, transformative not only to her, but to the audience as well.

SoloShow = Subtle Study in Fantastic Form, Magical Movement

Maria Hassabi
Imago Theatre
Monday, September 13, 2010
Posted by Eve Connell

Just the kinda performance I typically don’t enjoy–one in which nothing (much) happens. While my counterpart was bored out of her mind right from the get-go (a place I could have gone, too), very early on in Maria Hassabi’s fascinating study, a switch flipped for me and I remained riveted to my seat for the duration. This experience totally snuck up on me.
Minute, controlled movements, city-subway soundtrack, and anxiety-provoking facial expressions all added to the palpable tension of this piece. Hassabi’s disciplined actions seemed like nothing and then quite suddenly like something as they flowed into one another, allowing her to move carefully, painfully across the stage. At the start of SoloShow, the soundtrack was city-inspired noise, a perfect accompaniment to Hassabi’s pained look and twitching muscles. Yet as the piece progressed, the noise quieted, as did her movements. Less twitching. Less holding. More fluidity. More calm.
At one point, perhaps due to her monochromatic (beige) clothing, I imagined watching an animate sculptor’s model–you know, the wooden human frame whose legs, arms, torso all move on small hinges. Hassabi was that wooden model, moving carefully, poised and cautious about the outcome her movements might inspire or incite.
Maybe I’m a slow learn, but I didn’t quite pick up on references Hassabi intended in this particular study–the female form through the lens of pop culture and art history. The limits of self control, pushing beyond tension and boundaries, experiencing anxiety (Hey, wait! I got it!) via movement was what resonated most for me. As mentioned above, my counterpart was not in the least bit amused, finding this sort of work the most ridiculous, narcissistic display. A SoloSpectacle. At the end of the performance, Hassabi’s pained looked was transformed. She appeared pleased with herself, and relieved. I was pleased with her, too, though not quite relieved that it was over. I’m not sure when I’ll ever experience such a transformation fueled by movement again.

Love, Lust and Desire

Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Romeo & Juliet
Radosław Rychcik/Stefan Zeromski Theatre, In the Solitude of Cotton Fields
Posted By: Julie Hammond
I really wanted to like the Nature Theater of Oklahoma show, if only because everyone around me seemed to be having such a good time. Which is to say, they were laughing. Three quarters of the way through even the heartiest laughs clamped down a bit: the production was tiresome, the funny bits flagging, the overwrought enunciation of the “act-ors” more tedious than wall breaking. The idea for the production is a clever one, the script was generated by telephone interviews where friends and family were asked to recount the story of Romeo & Juliet. Anne Gridley and Robert M. Johanson, dressed in a combination of foppy and trashy “Shakespearean” costuming, play sort-of versions of the title characters as they weave through variations on the theme of the play. Scenes are invented and left out, the name of cities confused for the name of families, and all is done in ridiculous accents (balcony becomes bahl-koh-nee, etc etc).


Romeo, er, and, so Juliet, but…

Nature Theater of Oklahoma
THE WORKS at Washington High School.
posted by: dirtybombpdx
God, I really wanted to like Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Romeo and Juliet, and for much of the time I did. The two performers were odd and engaging and very funny and then a chicken danced. What’s not to love? The set was old school minimal: a painted backdrop and tin cans for footlights. The actors took turns out front, first Juliet then Romeo, then back and forth, as each tried to retell the story of R&J though neither could quite remember the tale. Nature Theater asked scores of people to relate the tale of Romeo and Juliet and this show is a product of those mis-remembered story-lines. It’s a funny conceit and the actors are hilarious (though once again, expletives provide many of the punch lines), but it goes on for an hour and a half (a good 30 minutes too long) and degenerates into the actor’s (now together on stage) tired plea for love. BORING! But the capper that sent me fleeing from the theater was the hack interpretation of Shakespeare’s gorgeous balcony scene from R&J (done in the dark, with maximum pretension, after the curtain call). Holy crap, a serious lack of judgement that completely erased any love I was feelin’ for ya.

there’s still time…

The Wooster Group
thru Saturday, Sept. 18, 4:30-8:30pm
Burnish Hall, Portland Center for the Performing Arts
posted by: dirtybombpdx
Billed as an interactive 360 degree war film, the Wooster Group brings to Portland’s TBA fest an exhilarating distillation of their unique theatrical imperative. Digitally video’d by 12 cameras and projected in-the-round by 6, the narrative is controlled by whoever sits in the center seat. As the “driver” spins in the “control chair”, the narrative (such as it is) plays out wherever he/she chooses to face. A grouping, around the center chair, of stools that also spin 360, allows the audience to follow the action (or not – several muted narratives and blurred images play on the rest of the 360 degree screen even as the “driver’s” vision is highlighted). There’s something for everyone, from porn to melodrama to Monty Python-esque comedy. It’s all ostensibly about or against war, but it doesn’t really matter what it’s about. It’s so odd and fun and uniquely engaging that the subject matter is almost beside the point. And, as a bonus, you get a lesson in social psychology. Watching what the “driver” chooses to view is at once irritating and fascinating (especially the speed at which the porn gets passed over). On more than one occasion I wanted to knock the “driver” from his perch and spin in the chair as fast as possible…but I didn’t (hmm).

A single pointed finger

Noelle Stiles + Danielle Kelly, Blanket
Maria Hasabi, SoloShow
Posted By: Julie Hammond
Danielle Kelly + Noelle Stiles, Blanket
Space + Place.
The first impressions could not have been more different. Walk into Blanket Space: a clean light room filled with brightly colored soft sculptures hanging from the ceiling, the sounds of traffic outside, the evening light fading slowly; this is walking into a dream world where things are strange but cozy, unusual but inviting. Walk into Imago Theater for SoloShow: the blackness of the theater is broken by clusters of lights gathered in a line shine down on the stage-on-a-stage, a large black rectangle floating in a deep sea of black marley, punctuated by a single figure in white, her head turned away from the audience, the sound score rumble sending vibrations through my center; this is walking into a nightmare where everything is known and terrifying, which is not to say I ever wanted to look away.



Posted by Tall Matt Haynes
Flooding with Love for the Kid
Determined not to re-live his cramped seat squrims from FIRST LOVE, Tall Matt Haynes now stretches out on the floor of an otherwise unoccupied front row. It is Tuesday, 9/14, 8:55pm and FLOODING FOR THE LOVE OF THE KID has just begun. The film is a solo video adaptation of the novel FIRST BLOOD, shot for 96 bucks in a small studio appartment. At the end of the screening, Tall Matt Haynes realizes that he’s probably going to have to give this one a negative-sounding review. This makes Tall Matt Haynes very sad because he’s glad the film was made and is charmed as hell by both the project’s proposals. Thing is…


Words words words

Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland, The Beckett Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies & The Unnameable
Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland, First Love
Posted By: Julie Hammond
In the last section of Conor Lovett’s remarkable performance of The Beckett Trilogy, I thought of their countryman, the great W.B. Yeats, and the second stanza of his poem Lapis Lazuli.
All perform their tragic play,
There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,
That’s Ophelia, that Cordelia;
Yet they, should the last scene be there
The great stage curtain about to drop,
If worthy their prominent part in the play,
Do not break up their lines to weep.
They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;
Gaiety transfiguring all that dread.
All men have aimed at, found and lost;
Black out; Heaven blazing into the head:
Tragedy wrought to its uttermost.
Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages,
And all the drop scenes drop at once
Upon a hundred thousand stage,
It cannot grow by and inch or an ounce.


Dayna Hanson

Gloria’s Cause.
submitted by Emily Katz
It’s the year 1784 and a handsome well spoken black man introduces us to the story, invites us into a party.
The curtain rises and a live band plays intricate atmospheric music that progresses into rock.
the actors are dressed in semi period attire but they are taking photos of eachother with their cell phones, one man is wearing a tshirt with a coca cola logo on it.
they aren’t taking themselves very seriously, the scene is casual.


But wait! there’s more

My appreciation of Mike Daisey’s work (yeah, I’m a fan, what about it?) goes back to when Portland Center Stage produced 21 Dog Years six or seven years ago. Mike enjoyed a lengthy, extended run with packed houses every almost every night. Yet this was due more to his narrative skills and sheer strength of personality than the “play” itself, because already at that time his anti-Amazon rant had a shopworn feel. Though I saw and enjoyed the show many times, I couldn’t help but hope Mike would find material worthy of his immense talent.
And man, has he ever. In the interim he’s made friends and enemies galore with pieces such as How Theater Failed America and If You See Something Say Something. But the punch of the piece he and director Jean-Michele Gregory have brought to TBA:10, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, has a visceral power I haven’t seen before. Sure, I laughed out loud many, many times in the course of this show. But its emotional punch grabbed me just as often.
So much has been said already about the content of this two-hour tour de force that I’ll spare you another recap except to mention how Mike bookends the evening. He starts with a jocular reference to how we thought in the future we’d all constantly be “jacked in” to cyberspace by means of electrodes wired into our bodies. Laughable, right? But as he puts it: “The future never looks like what we thought it would; that’s why it’s called ‘the future.’” We may not be physically tethered to our portable electronics, but we’re jacked in all the same. And Mike’s wish, he says at the evening’s end, is to become a virus that infiltrates our code and changes the way we think.
Hence The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is ultimately a calls to arms. He points out that Apple went from Greenpeace’s “worst” list of environmental scoundrels to the top of its green list, all because the company perceived that its constituents — “people who go to the theater,” he says, looking around the auditorium — wanted to support a green company. So he asks us to do the same thing for working conditions, for the Chinese people “who make all our stuff.”
An earlier blog post expressed that opinion that Mike’s critique lacked rigor, but for me his demand that his audiences take action at least in regard to Apple (which he acknowledges is hardly the only American company turning a blind eye to monstrous working conditions) is what saves the evening from being a mere rant. “Our silence is our consent,” he says. To say nothing is to condone.
Alas, this monologue, which I wish everyone in Portland could see, closed last night. But you have one more chance to see Mike Daisey in action and in progress as he slouches toward the manically astounding goal of creating a live, 24-hour monologue entitled All the Hours in the Day. By attending you become part of the piece’s evolution, so check it out: this Saturday, September 18, 2:30pm at THE WORKS.

Le Chaim! to Ten Tiny Dances

Ten Tiny Dances
posted by Seth Needler
Ten Tiny Dances, a TBA institution, took place on Saturday night at the Works to an overflowing, enthusiastic audience. In ways great and small, Ten Tiny Dances both encapsulates and reflects the essence of what TBA is. Unfortunately, the first three dances were all a bit lackluster, giving many who had waited a long time to get in pause to wonder whether it was going to be worth it.
As anyone could have predicted, it was – and then some.
Dayna Hanson, who I had had the pleasure of seeing perform earlier the same evening, kicked things up about 12 notches with a high-energy reprise performance of one of the sharpest, funniest vignettes from their show, Gloria’s Cause. A tall, bearded, bespectacled man stood center stage, wearing a wig and dressed in a Revolutionary War uniform, delivering a “Colonial Rap” in the guise of our favorite President, and then proceeded to break dance, as the rest of the troupe danced around him and Hanson’s talented musicians played from behind the rows of seats.


No Need for Concern

Beth Morrison, “The New Classical”
Posted By: Emily Stevens
Whenever I go to hear a classical music concert (which is pretty often) I’m usually the youngest person alone in the room by at least forty years and the oldest person in the room is always the composer, who has been dead for at least fifty years. This worries me immensely. Because of these particular worries, I was especially looking forward to opera producer Beth Morrison‘s chat on, “The New Classical,” which–according to my handy TBA catalog– promised to unveil a ” creative renaissance rooted in classical music.” Morrison is a champion for new operas, and has presented successful projects all over the world, featuring composers who are living, breathing and under the age of fifty. After hearing her presentation it was clear why she is so incredibly successful. She isn’t simply producing works, she’s part of a musical revolution!


Worth a touch of criticism

tba10_MikeDaisey_091010 (6)
Posted by: Robert Tyree
Mike Daisy’s history of ideas and innovations across the history of Apple is wicked good. This makes up about half of his monologue. The other half consists of tales from his visit to the mega corporate Chinese sub province Shenzhen…
At around the 3/4 mark, he had the audience rapt on what had developed into a compellingly bifurcated monologue that expresses two vastly different sides of global capitalism. Unfortunately, he bet his thunderous finale on a call to arms based on the weaker half of his piece, in the process obliterating any space for audience consideration he had opened over the course of the first hour.
Daisey admits that he knows “fuck all” about Chinese culture, and it seems that most of his material about Shenzhen was based on the time he spent there investigating the production sites of Apple products. What cracks the core of Daisey’s material on the subject is his presumption that Chinese people approach their lives just just like Daisey does. He doesn’t seem to consider the fundamental difference in cultural values that orient how a person relates their sense of self to their society and life more broadly. In the end, his piece struck me as resting on an ethnocentric projection that is dangerous and unacceptable in the 21st century. At this point in globalism, disavowal of the historical specificity of one’s own native cultural perspective may be a more troubling oversight than disavowal of capitalism’s ruthless consequences.
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For how richly detailed and engrossing his history of Apple is, there is nary a balancing expression of the historical circumstances that created the present economic relationship with China. Hardly a mention that millions of people, like his translator, “Kathy”, have been pulled from poverty and into a once undreamed of middle class by China’s embrace of state-controled capitalism.
His embodiment of the intricacies, contradictions, and passions of his own “normal American” perspective as an Apple fan boy carry a brilliant portrait of the ugly, yet admittedly efficient, mechanisms of corporate innovation. I really admired his performance of the schizophrenic nature of contemporary consumers who are faced with the task of reconciling a desire for products with the awareness of what we are buying into when we take them off the shelf.
Daisey is surely a brilliant guy, and he must have devoted a lot of thought and compassion to his Shenzen material, but the actual monologue felt so ridden with unexpressed dimensions that it came off as opportunistic simplification, manipulating a complex and important topic into an effective dramatic tool. The fact that he’s yelling at us to accept his conclusions just didn’t sit well with me. It felt like a betrayal of his form to employ quasi-totalitarian rhetorical devices to bludgeon us into his way of thinking.
I’m critical with good intentions. I wouldn’t want to let such a promising piece slide through without challenging what I saw as its weaknesses because its a laudable topic to tackle.
I couldn’t help but compare Daisey to Slavoj Žižek, a similarly charismatic speaker, who addresses the exact same topic of such a willed ignorance of global capitalism’s inhumane costs with a rigor suited to the topic.

Dirty Creature

Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland – First Love
posted by: Seth Nehil
The sole character in First Love is deeply misanthropic, often scatological, and very, very funny. In his base quest for silence and inactivity, he reaches hallucinatory levels of separation from humankind. Beckett isolates the most animalistic tendencies of a selfish existence – food, sleep, shit – and elevates them to a level of abstraction through repetition, rhythm and persistence. In doing so, he creates a character that is somehow both familiar and grotesque. This character readily admits things we would struggle to hide. He can be at turns charming, irritating, even hideous.


“An experience of movement without judgment.”

Jérôme Bel
Cédric Andrieux
Winningstad Theatre
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Posted by Eve Connell

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"It feels super good."
Everything about Cédric Andrieux feels “super good,” even days later. A meditative study, a solo narrative of the life of a dancer might not seem so interesting at first glance, but Bel was beyond captivating. His direct approach with his audience felt uncomfortable at first, but his soft voice transported his honest account of early self observations with subtle humor to present a raw naiveté that quickly drew us in.
“Pauses in between breaths.”
The slow pace of Bel’s narrative allowed us to embrace Cédric, to engage in his trials with becoming a dancer in Paris first, and moving on to his young professional life with celebrated companies in New York. The breaths in between each sentence added to the intimacy of his story. His audible breaths during the dances he chose to show us connected us to his craft and life even more.
“I dance and I see what happens.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of this performance is that we were able to observe and compare the different styles of dance – the techniques, the movements, the deeply rooted philosophies of each of the masters. From Cunningham to Brown to Tréhet to Bel, even an amateur could pick out the differences in the snapshot views Bel’s performance offered. It was quite cool.
“Assessing the audience.”
The ending segment (Bel’s own) offered a role reversal and with it, more obvious humor to serve as social lubricant. As performer observed the audience, we, too, were assessed, put on the spot, forced to feel what many performers do. Shifting the perspective shifted the energy and focus, and it was this heat that truly resonated, and felt surprisingly “super good.”

Ten Tiny Dances Delivers

Ten Tiny Dances
THE WORKS/Washington High School
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Posted by Eve Connell

There’s always something for everyone during a Ten Tiny Dances performance, and this 22nd talent round-up presented by Mike Barber went far beyond the usual mark. Each and every piece was amazing, offering something for everyone, anyone, us all. Serious studies in movement and form. Explorations in shock and humor. From the highly stylized to the deconstructed, raucous to subtle, Ten Tiny Dances outdid all expectations of solid gold performance.
Anne Furfey’s deliberate movements in SINK both chopped and flowed in a mesmerizing opening piece. Barber and Cydney Wilkes provided slightly off antics in A VERSION as they managed the tiny space with dozens of trophies in a comical view flirting with 50s/60s dance hall culture.
tba10_TTD22_A Version by Mike Barber and Cydney Wilkes (4)
In CITY, Katherine Longstreth showcased intensity in her athletic movements with Copland and Coleman providing an as equally intense musical backdrop. Dayna Hanson’s punk/goth/American revolutionary crew got things pumping with their hip hop meets creepy Disneyland installations piece.
TBA10 Ten Tiny Dances 22
Linda Austin’s NIGH offered up monochromatic visuals and severe movements with a compelling soundtrack (Seth Nehil strikes again). The Woolly Mammoth crew (in my fave costumes thus far) pushed buttons with an edgy, sexualized performance that included groans, moans, and laughs.
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Eric Skinner (BodyVox) immediately grounded us with an impeccably beautiful study in controlled, classic movement in CLEARLY ANOTHER WORLD.
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"To make the world a beautiful place!" is what Michael Rioux and Monica Gilliam inspired, nay, insisted upon from direct audience participation in DANCE #1, a fun piece for the ironic hipster pretentiously trapped within us all. Tahni Holt's CULTURE MACHINE pushed all sorts of limits, the least of which being hot Barbie doll bods spandexed in primary colors. And, finally MIKE DAISEY played the rube who ends up enjoying much more than he bargained for in an art gallery visit. We did, too.
TBA10 Ten Tiny Dances 22
The energy Saturday night was palpably electric, an exchange between and among artists and audience. ALL performances sparkled, inspired, intrigued, entertained. The performers each seemed to be showcasing their very, very best, connected to their goals, their art, their audience. I’m still buzzing from it all.

witchcraft and high heels

Sunday, Sept 12, 2010 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Curated by Stephanie Snyder
Posted by: Nicole Leaper
As part of the larger ABSTRACTexhibition at Reed College’s Cooley Gallery, Stephanie Snyder curated film and video work by Maya Deren and Kate Gilmore into a series of three screenings at Whitsell Auditorium. The first showing included three Gilmore works made within the last few years (including work from the Whitney Biennial), interspersed with Deren works created in the 1940′s. Deren, known for her expertise in Haitian voodoo studies, examines mystical, transcendent, and darkly psychedelic experiences through swirling montages and witchcraft references. Gilmore, on the other hand, shoots images of herself clad in ladylike attire, breaking through sheetrock with only her hands and the spikes of her high heels.


Think different.

Mike Daisey, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory
Posted By: Jimmy Radosta
Photo By: Gordon Wilson
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As I sit here typing these words on my 6-year-old iBook G4, I’m haunted by the information that Mike Daisey shared with a packed auditorium last night at Washington High School.
An admitted Apple junkie, Daisey traveled to Shenzhen, China, for a firsthand look at the people who assemble the sleek toys that have become essential to most Americans. There, he posed as a businessman to infiltrate immense factories and interviewed employees who shared harrowing accounts of abuse: a man fired because his hand was smashed on the assembly line; a whistleblower who was blacklisted from finding a job elsewhere; and a stream of people forced to work up to 105 hours a week. (Allow me to do the math: That’s like doing a double shift for every day of your life.)
To keep the show from collapsing under the weight of this heavy material, Daisey toggles back and forth between China and a fascinating history of Apple Inc. In both cases, he manages to find the humanity behind the machinery.
This isn’t the first time that Daisey has railed against the dark side of technology. I became familiar with his work thanks to 21 Dog Years: Doing Time at, a hilarious account of dot-com excess, and he last wowed TBA with Monopoly, in which he managed to weave threads linking the Parker Brothers board game to Wal-Mart as well as the rivalry between inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.
What sets apart The Agony and the Ecstasy is that it hovers somewhere between solo theater and gonzo journalism. After all, Daisey risked arrest to report information that Apple simply doesn’t want us to know. (My inner cynic wonders whether his exposé will lead to much-needed government oversight or tighter restrictions on workers who reveal corporate secrets.) He also harnesses the audience’s outrage by providing action steps that can be taken as soon as they reach for the iPhone. (For starters, email Steve Jobs here.)
Toward the end, Daisey teeters on the brink of sanctimony by hammering home a point that has already been made clear. Regardless, he continues to master an approachable storytelling zeal that combines the gearhead geekdom of a fanboy with the analytical wisdom of a global citizen.

Living an ethical life inside a “framework of shit”

NOONTIME CHAT: Telling Stories: Art and Commerce
Sunday, Sept 12, 2010 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Posted by: Nicole Leaper
Photo by: Gordon Wilson
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Mike Daisey joined PICA’s guest artistic director Cathy Edwards at Pacific Northwest College of Art’s (PNCA) Swigert Commons for a discussion about making art in a capitalistic society.The talk was originally planned to include a local (unnamed) technologist who apparently backed out at the last minute. According to Daisey, the cancellation was due to the invited guest’s hesitations about Daisey’s current show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which addresses the US role in supporting substandard human rights during technology production offshore.


I’m amazed that I was amazed that there was no talking in a dance piece

Maria Hassabi, SoloShow
Posted By: Robert Tyree
When I heard Cathy Edwards got slack for “exhausting” us last year and read the Mercury’s repeated, brutal, and unintelligible flogging of Meg Stuart’s Maybe Forever (a piece I revered), I was afraid that there might be no meat with our gravy in this year’s festival. Fear assuaged. Maria Hassabi gives us something to chew on. SoloShow is challenging, expansive, and rewarding.
I’m amazed that I was amazed that there was no talking in a dance piece. Instead, we get bodies, dozens of them. We get bodies that shake out of the muscular impossibility of stillness, as if in protest at some unnatural fixation. We get a body that suddenly transforms into a completely new one with lone addition of a face looking at the audience. Some bodies make themselves felt, remarkable tactile and supple, impacting space and generating vastly different powers from one stillness to the next. And then a sudden flatness as I see her face and body in a way that refers my mind to vaguely similar images that I might have seen in magazines, fashion, porn, advertisement, dance promotion, sculpture. Who knows, but this is not the same body. It does not have the same flesh, dimensions, or qualities.
Has the body died once I code it as representative? What happens when that body slams loudly onto the floor, suddenly announcing a previously unknown weight? Is it the same body?
This is dance employing its formal elements to mine some core themes. It was spiritual for me, that’s the kind of terrain I found it inhabiting. I’m certainly grateful for the fine composition of space and time, the clarity of the costume, lighting, and sound design, and the opportunity for a focused engagement with the timeless powers inherent to bodies that forever infect us with wonder despite our many deaths in meaning.
At the end of the performance, someone next to me said, “That was the most boring performance I have ever seen.” Well, as they say, ‘Only boring people get bored.’ I fear for any culture that has lost it’s ability to sense what a body creates. There’s no reason why such a culture would survive.
Not the most relevant, but good enough for a shameless re-blog (from:
“The body can by the sole laws of its nature do many things which the mind wonders at.
Again, no one knows how or by what means the mind moves the body, nor how many various degrees of motion it can impart to the body, nor how quickly it can move it. Thus, when men say that  this or that physical action has its origin in the mind, which latter has dominion over the body, they are using words without meaning, or are confessing in specious phraseology that they are ignorant of the cause of the said action, and do not wonder at it.”
Spinoza, The Ethics, 1673

TBA dim sum: less is more

Ten Tiny Dances
Saturday, September 11, 2010 10:30 pm -12:30 am
Posted by: Nicole Leaper
Photo by: Rio
The auditorium at THE WORKS at Washington High School is transformed into a theater in the round for Ten Tiny Dances. A four foot square space surrounded by the audience, with overhead video projected on a nearby screen, allows intimate engagement with the performers in an already intimately-sized area. Ten separate performances on the small stage feed the sound-bite satisfaction of popular entertainment culture, but also allow a a Whitman sampler of artists who can be further explored in additional festival events.
A wonderful array of styles and subject matter in bite-sized chunks is a microcosm of the festival itself: Mike Daisey shattering the object/viewer wall by ravaging an orange, Dayna Hanson’s group breakdancing in colonial get-ups, and Mike Barber and Cydney Wilkes ballroom dancing with trophies. Is the short format less challenging for the viewer? Maybe, but it feels good to change directions so quickly. Like TBA channel-surfing or TBA dim sum, less really is more.

The Agony & Ecstasy of Mike Daisey

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Mike Daisey, “The Agony & Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”
Posted by Michael Evans

Much ballyhooed monologist Mike Daisey more than lived up to his advanced billing in this terrific show that is as much a call to arms as it is a fetishistic mash note to technology.
Coming off a lot like a cerebral, less spastic version of Chris Farley, Daisey’s ruminates resoundingly on his favorite Apple products, the demigod behind their design, and the sweatshop laborers who assemble them.


American History + ADHD = Valuable Lesson

Dayna Hanson: Gloria’s Cause
Posted by Ariel Frager
The appeal of Schoolhouse Rock never fades for those of us who grew up in the 70′s. I still sing, “a noun is a person, place or thing,” at those important moments when I need to know the elements of English grammar. Suffice to say Dayna Hanson and company’s new work in progress, Gloria’s Cause reminded me of Schoolhouse Rock, a new approach to the telling and retelling of American history with a dancing Bald Eagle, incongruous narration, random dance interludes all tied up in a fun-loving package with a bevy of punk rock cords. Hanson dares to bring us a multi-sensory experience of the American story and it left me with a hankering to refill my Ritalin prescription.
I went to this show on September 11 and somehow it felt like a perfect way to honor that day. Hanson looks at America, our new America with all our backward thinking about what freedom is and how we got here. At one point a performer wearing a strangely cartoonish and realistic and scary Bald Eagle mask declared, “I like to think of myself as an empathic bird with an ironic nature.” The monologue by this philosophical symbol of ours reminded me of all those post 9/11 freedom lovin’, flag waiving compatriots only this bird seemed to be reaching some sort of truth. What did our forefathers fight for? What is this freedom of ours? Is it worth holding on to or are we going to give it away, little by little. Dayna Hanson pushes the boundaries of history telling and that is part of our freedom, the freedom to be as silly as possible and still have something valuable to say.