Over the Weekend at Under the Radar

Last week, PICA’s Victoria Frey was in New York, attending the Under the Radar Festival with Jessica, Kristan, Erin, and Cathy from the PICA team. We posted her day one wrap-up last week, and now we share the run-down from her breathless weekend trying to catch as much art as she could:
Friday starts later because I skip out on the APAP Conference morning sessions. I have time to catch the Urs Fischer show at the New Museum. Really interesting. He photographed the walls, the ceiling, and all the details of the 3rd floor gallery and made wallpaper to cover the space as itself. A lone melted piano sculpture sits in the middle of the room. The 2nd floor gallery is installed with his mirrored cubes.
I walk all over the Lower East Side, the Bowery, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Orchard Street on my way to Brown restaurant on Hester. My first show is Chekov Lizardbrain by Pig Iron Theater from Philadelphia. Good production and accomplished actors. Great characters and ideas but it somehow does not all come together for me. I sit with David Henry from Boston, and we have the same schedule, so we decide to travel together. We walk up toward our next show, the Richard Maxwell piece at PS122 called Ads. We end up nearly sprinting to make it as I lead David the long way there. This pace, the sense of adventure and the camaraderie are what make the festival format so much fun.
Next we have to get all the way to 3LD in the financial district for Gin&”It” directed by Reid Farrington. This is a work-in-progress that will premeire at the Wexner in March and is based on Hitchcock’s Rope. It’s an inventive work based on a great film – I would love to see the finished work.
Now back uptown to the public for the late show at the lounge. Each night I have told myself that staying up really late is also part of the experience but tonight I am too tired to stay past 1. Kristan is crashing at our hotel tonight so there may be a slumber party after all.

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PICA Descends on UTR

Wednesday kicked off the Sixth Annual Under The Radar Festival (UTR) in New York, and it just so happens that a good half of our staff has flown out to catch the shows. Maybe it has something to do with the annual APAP Conference taking place this weekend, and maybe (just maybe), it’s because we love UTR Artistic Director (and past PICA Guest AD) Mark Russell. Still, the real reason to be in New York this week is for the incredible lineup of contemporary performance converging at the Public Theater.

UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL 2010 from UTRFestival on Vimeo.

Along with TBA, Under The Radar is one of the few US festivals presenting consistently engaging and genre-bending contemporary performance. For PICA fans, a lot of the names will sound familiar; past artists include Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Superamas, and Mike Daisey, and this year alone, you can catch Philippe Quesne/Vivarium Studio, Jollyship the Whiz-Bang, and MK Guth. With over 20 shows running on some days, UTR is a wild and intense burst of theater.
After the jump, read a first-day dispatch from PICA Executive Director Victoria Frey…

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Warhol Foundation Awards PICA $100,000 Grant!

robbinschilds c.l.u.e.
robbinschilds perform C.L.U.E. at TBA:09. Photo: Carole Zoom.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has awarded PICA a $100,000, 2-year grant in support of the 2010 and 2011 Time-Based Art Festivals. This grant comes in recognition of PICA’s cross-disciplinary programming and community engagement.
According to the Foundation’s website:

“Over the past seven years, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art has secured a prominent place in the public imagination by curating one of the most dynamic multi-disciplinary events in Portland, the annual Time-Based Art Festival (TBA).”

“…Perhaps most impressive of all, however, is the way TBA manages to activate public, non-art spaces that bring the city into the Festival and the Festival into the city. This past year, the Festival’s late-night programming and ON SIGHT visual arts installations were both staged in the re-purposed Washington High School, and Australia’s Back to Back Theater performed its riveting Small Metal Objects to an audience wearing headphones in the middle of a bustling outdoor lunch crowd in Pioneer Square. By presenting work in diverse neighborhoods and alternative spaces, PICA is able to engage broad, new audiences in contemporary art.”

This assessment was shared by TBA:09 artist Antoine Catala, who described his Festival experience by saying that,

“TBA is unique in the US, because it encompasses multi-disciplinary forms of art that lead to natural cross-pollinations. It felt like the whole city mobilized around PICA, because the festival gathers so many volunteers and so many events in a short period of time. The whole experience felt like an amazing communal effort.”

We are honored to be the only Foundation award recipient in the region, and are excited to apply this funding towards another two years of leading-edge programming!
About the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
The Foundation’s objective is to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process by encouraging and supporting cultural organizations that in turn, directly or indirectly, support artists and their work. The Foundation values the contribution these organizations make to artists and audiences and to society as a whole by supporting, exhibiting and interpreting a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practice.
The primary focus of the Foundation’s grant making activity has been to support the creation, presentation and documentation of contemporary visual art, particularly work that is experimental, under-recognized, or challenging in nature.
For more information, please visit the Warhol Foundation’s Awarded Grant’s Page.

Call for Proposals: Open Engagement Conference

You could argue that an idea has truly gained traction when it boasts its own Wikipedia page. Or, perhaps, when it is accredited as a degree. For that matter, being the target of a satirical anti-movement seems as sure a sign as any that you’ve really made it. If any of these can serve as accurate benchmarks, then it’s safe to say that “Social Practice” has taken off as an artistic discipline over the last decade.
Now, go ahead and add “dedicated conference” to the list of qualifiers for success.
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This Spring, Portland will play host to theOpen Engagement Conference, a free, three-day convergence of ideas and social practice art. Run by Jen Delos Reyes and our friend Harrell Fletcher, in conjunction with the MFA Monday Night Lecture Series, the conference will debate the assumptions and intentions underpinning social practice. Attendees will be invited to immerse themselves in the full conference experience by hosting guests, collaborating on new work, and sharing meals. In part, the conference itself will become a social practice project.
Sound interesting? Well, we thought we’d pass along a final call for you to submit your conference ideas.

You are invited to contribute to Open Engagement: Making Things, Making Things Better, Making Things Worse by submitting your projects, performances, tours, presentations, or panel ideas. Other formats are also welcomed. You are encouraged to think of ways to connect peers and colleagues at this conference, connect and engage a greater community and work across disciplines.
All interested individuals are encouraged to submit proposals. This conference is not exclusive to artists.

Part 1: Propose a project, paper, performance, discussion, intervention panel (or other format) that relates to the theme of the conference (500 word max).
Part 2: Write a short bio (100 words or less).
Part 3: Fill out the brief questionnaire and application form. We want to help you make interesting connections at this conference, and this will help us facilitate that.
DEADLINE:
January 15, 11:59pm 2010 (Pacific Standard Time)

PICA 2009 and Looking Ahead to PICA 2010

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And a few of our events from the second half of 2009

A letter from Cathy Edwards, TBA:09 and TBA:10 Guest Artistic Director
As fall settles in and we gather sustenance for the winter ahead, I hope that you stored away a lot of energy from a complex, textured, and physically charged TBA:09! I loved the candy necklaces that laced the Festival, the vast dream landscapes of America conjured for us, the geodesic domes and caves that provided opportunities for reflection, and the actors and dancers who broke into song. And each night, I relished coming together in Washington High School to share the Festival experience with an engaged, opinionated, and adventurous cross-section of Portland.
The air is turning cold and PICA’s artistic staff is traveling far and wide, visiting artist studios and rehearsals in Portland and around the country. We are unpacking the boxes of DVDs we’ve received in the mail, doing our homework, and having lots of conversations, both brainy and brawny, that will result in the tremendous energy of ideas and bodies coming together for TBA:10. So, what are we thinking about for next year? A Festival that will be full of visceral euphoria and that will reflect on the big topics of our time. We are not shy about making a statement and we will assuredly create a Festival that adds something truly unique to the Portland landscape. To begin with, we are thinking about love, war, lies, supermen, magic, youthful fantasy, and female icons, just to name a few of our big ideas!
Some of the artists we have been talking about include The Wooster Group, who will remind us That There is Still Time…. Brother, in a new project directed by the legendary Elizabeth LeCompte that collides the 1959 film On the Beach with Paris Hilton, Iraq war imagery, and an Ohio fort in the 1700s; John Jasperse, whose new work is called Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking and Flat-Out Lies; and Maria Hassabi, who investigates feminine iconography in Solo/SoloSHOW. Plus, you can expect a return visit from perennial favorite Reggie Watts, an encore performance by Tarek Halaby, and lots more theater, dance, music, and visual arts that will have us sit up straight in our seats and then talk late into the night at the WORKS.
It’s an incredible journey to put together a festival of the breadth and depth of TBA, the culmination of PICA’s year-round efforts to bring contemporary art to Portland. During the year, PICA hosts lectures by emerging artists, provides artist residencies, and devotes resources to commissioning provocative new work. These activities energize Portland’s creative culture and, more than ever before, we rely on your curiosity, opinions, and participation. Join our community by becoming a member or renewing your support, contributing financially, and establishing a stake in what we do all year round. I hope that you’ll join us as we build PICA’s energy for the coming year.
Cathy Edwards
Guest Artistic Director TBA:09 & TBA:10

PS: Download the full PDF version of our year-end newsletter to read a letter from Artistic Director Cathy Edwards and be the first to browse the PICA Shoppe including limited edition artworks by past PICA and TBA artists.

Photo Credits: July: P1C4 PICA 14th Birthday Party, photo: Point Juncture, WA. August: Mike Daisey THE LAST CARGO CULT: A Workshop of a New Monologue, photo: Mike Daisey. September: TBA:09 The Seventh Annual Time-Based Art Festival, Miguel Gutierrez photo: Wayne Bund. October: Diana Szeinblum Residency and In-Progress Showing, ALASKA photo: Jazmín Tesone. November: Philip Glass with Portland Opera and Northwest Film Center, photo: Philip Glass. December: Prints for PICA Printmaking Marathon and Art Sale, photo: Calvin Ross Carl.

PICA 2009: Help Define Our Times

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Just some of our first six months of 2009 programming

A letter from Victoria Frey, Executive Director of PICA

This past year we saw the personal, professional, and cultural lives of our community turned upside down. Amid this uncertainty, PICA’s commitment to remain a vital, provocative, and fiscally responsible organization never faltered, and our devotion to supporting the art and the artists who will be the enduring voice of our time was steadfast.

As we budgeted for 2009, we made difficult reductions in our programming and administrative budgets, running lean on the backs of staff and volunteers whose passion and selflessness are unmatched. We made these cuts with an eye not just toward survival, but longevity. And in spite of these reductions, we celebrated a great year of programming. We skated around Oaks Park with local composer and musician Ethan Rose, laughed and cried with Holcombe Waller, and celebrated our 14th Birthday with a trio of local bands.

We created a tremendous community in and around the old Washington High School for TBA:09. We mingled and shared the bounty of our local food on the WHS lawn for the Labor Day picnic, we explored and delighted in Fawn Krieger’s National Park, and stayed up late at THE WORKS. We gathered for important and exciting new work from Miguel Gutierrez, who wowed us with the world premiere of Last Meadow; Erik Friedlander, who accompanied his autobiographical piece Block Ice & Propane with masterful strokes of his cello; and Raimund Hoghe, whose stunning choreography has been lauded around the world but never before seen in the United States until he stepped onto the stage of the Newmark. We rounded out the year with a two-week residency by choreographer Diana Szeinblum, who gave a workshop for local dancers. At the end of her residency, she presented a work-in-progress showing of a new piece that PICA commissioned her to develop.

As 2009 comes to a close, and we head into a new year that will continue to test our mettle as a nimble and entrepreneurial arts organization, your year-end donation makes a defining difference. We need to raise $30,000 from individual donors to counterbalance a two-year trend of decreased individual donations and corporate sponsorships. Our goal is practical, responsible, and achievable. If we meet this challenge together PICA will kick off 2010–our 15th year–with the ongoing financial stability we have all worked so hard to achieve.

Great civilizations are measured not by the rise and fall of businesses or the changing tides of commerce, but by the art that distills the tenor of the time and the spirit of the people. Our world is marked by upheaval and uncertainty, and the art that is being created today is challenging, reflecting that anxiety. PICA is the loudspeaker–the megaphone–that allows the voices of contemporary artists to carry across distance and time.

At PICA, our challenge is to balance our ambitions and dreams with economic realities. But it is up to you to define those realities; that is your challenge. This letter is in your hands because you’ve joined us and witnessed the passion of these times on our stages, screens, and gallery walls. These moments have the power to change your life and challenge your thinking.

Join PICA as we celebrate and preserve Portland’s cultural legacy. Renew–or increase–your commitment to PICA, and share in our vision of a future filled with the best that contemporary art has to offer.

Victoria Frey
Executive Director, PICA

PS: Download the full PDF version of our year-end newsletter to read a letter from Artistic Director Cathy Edwards and be the first to browse the PICA Shoppe including limited edition artworks by past PICA and TBA artists.

Photo Credits: January: Ethan Rose OAKS CD Release, photo: Adam Porterfield. February: PSU Monday Night Lecture Series, photo: Edgar Arceneaux. March: Holcombe Waller and the Healers Into the Dark Unknown: The Hope Chest, photo: Lucas Balzer. April: TADA! The Annual Gala, photo: Jeff Forbes. May: PICA HEART NYC with Ace Hotel and PAPER Magazine, photo: culturebot. June: Washington High School: load in and build out begins, photo: Kenneth Aaron.

Philip Glass, Orphée, and Film’s Missing Element

By Eve Connell
Creativity and Collaboration: An Evening with Philip Glass
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Kridel Ballroon at PAM

Listening to Philip Glass last Tuesday night, before Portland Opera’s Orphée production this weekend, was indeed a tremendous way “to give us as an audience and a community the opportunity to see how a brilliant artist works.” Glass covered his influences (art house movies, Paris), collaboration with filmmakers and other artists (Errol Morris, Godfrey Reggio, Chuck Close), his experiences and initial prejudices with working in film (the missing element), but actually spent most of the evening presenting the Jean Cocteau trilogy that fueled some powerful, magical work.
Through a critical discussion of film, Glass offered us “earth, wind, and fire, the elements that make the art” – text, image, movement, music (accepting audience as the fifth element in this line up). The one big negative in film, he duly noted, is that “compared to dance, to theater…it’s not an interpretative art. Film is definitive.” He explained that all interpretations of a film remain intact, no matter how many times the piece is remade. “It’s more or less the same every time you see it.” The missing element? “The ability for other teams of people to take work and reinterpret…works live in a container they can’t break out of.” But, these works also take on a different life due to multiple productions over time. Such a legacy of performances and their interpretations (Glass had us think about thousands of Carmen performances) also allow the work to grow in depth and complexity. “This legacy has its own history and meaning, and takes on a super identity.”
The more Glass became enamored and involved with film, and this idea of legacy from performance interpretation, the more he thought about breaking the traditional mold. (Not a surprise.) He realized that the “synchronization of image and music could work…positively.” He wanted film to embrace real-time performance which has a quality that transcends any kind of recorded performance. Glass hoped to create or combine this ideal in film and, equipped with what he labels “Cocteau’s coherent body of work” (La Belle et La Bête , Les Infants Terribles, Orphée), set out to do so. Why Cocteau? “Everything Cocteau had to say about art and life, life and death, is in these films.” The artist’s life and the creative process come alive in these stories, heavily laden with symbolism. (Key, horse, rose, mirror, glove figure prominently.) But the power of turning our ordinary world into a magical place is not just merely the power of the artist – it’s actually possible for everyone to access the power of transformation. “Cocteau’s transformation of the world comes from magic, magic that comes through the power of the artist, and really, everyone.” Glass directs: “If we know the five symbols, we can rule our lives effectively.”
Glass believes that art is a social phenomenon. That it is collaborative by its very nature. That there’s a transaction that happens between composer, performer, audience. “It’s not abstract. It’s something that happens between us.” The Portland Opera presentation of Glass’ Orphée offers pure magic via collaboration this weekend and next. The piece combines real-time operatic performance with cinematic performance. Live music is synchronized with imagery. Identities and themes perhaps merge, and certainly play between stage and screen. The mold is broken. We are all in for a powerful treat.

PMMNLS: Kenneth Goldsmith


Kenneth Goldsmith hates Facebook. / Photo Credit: © C. Jones
PSU MFA MONDAY NIGHT LECTURE SERIES:
KENNETH GOLDSMITH
October 26, 2009
Posted by: Meg Peterson
Kenneth Goldsmith is a man of many talents. He is a poet, professor of Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, Senior Editor of PENNsound, radio-show host on WFMU, and founding editor of UbuWeb — “a completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts.” For his PMMNLS talk, Goldsmith chose to focus on UbuWeb, walking us through the site, its ideologies, and cruising it’s content to pluck a few gems from it’s mass of nearly five terabytes of archived material.
Before stepping up to the podium, Goldsmith hit play on a beautiful Jonas Mekas video from Ubu, Happy Birthday to John (1972). Wildly intimate footage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono: the best possible way to render a fidgeting crowd of art nerds completely rapt. Of the 5,000 or so artists that are hosted on Ubu, only a handful have given permission for their work to be posted. However, since Ubu’s inception in 1996, the site has only suffered about 20 take-downs, (and will always remove work at an artist’s request.) Goldsmith iterated that he finds it a great triumph that Ubu is able to post material related to Lennon, “Pop’s greatest commodity”, without people getting terribly upset about it. This is due in part because “Ubu chooses not to fuck with legitimate economies.” Ubu users will never find a scrap of Madonna material on the site, but one can peruse such curiosities as the music of Marcel Duchamp, the paintings of William S. Burroughs, as well as other Lennon-related oddities; such as seven minutes of John fiddling with a radio dial. The site is highly curated, which is what makes it so good — but also follows the mantra that anything is publishable, even if it is a thousand-page PDF. Goldsmith insists that the site is esentially a fanzine, a contraption made out of toothpicks and paperclips, and an art historian’s nightmare. Yet, it out MOMA’s MOMA on the internet. It houses a sea of material that would otherwise remain inaccessable outside gallery walls. It’s free, and it will always* be free.
*We’re in the SUMMER OF LOVE with the web, and it isn’t going to last forever.
If you see something you like, PDF IT.
But, you know — It’s like Whack-A-Mole. You can take things down, but you can never get rid of them.

Tonight’s PMMNLS Lecture (November 2, 2009):
The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest
Portland State University: Shattuck Hall Annex
1914 SW Park Ave.

Headphones in the Square

Back To Back Theater
Small Metal Objects
Two hundred or so people, lining the stadium seats in Pioneer Courthouse Square, each wearing identical sets of headphones, none knowing exactly where to look. Some are looking back, over the shoulders, wondering whether that is where the action is. Others watch the green-clad uniformed employees of a local nursery, methodically gathering up and carting off the plants that littered the square as part of an earlier expo celebrating the opening of the new Max line. Still others glance at the faces of those near them, hoping for a clue. Through their headphones, they are all hearing the sounds of orchestral, atmospheric music, and over it a non-linear conversation between two people with Australian accents.
So began Small Metal Objects by Back to Back Theater.

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“We Never Get Anything Done… I’m a Perfect Example”

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Tarek Halaby, Lecture/Performance: An attempt to understand my socio-political disposition through artistic research on personal identity in relationship to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Part One
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
Tarek Halaby’s lecture/performance is ridiculously and too easily titled “An attempt to understand my socio-political disposition through artistic research on personal identity in relationship to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Part One.” It’s an “attempt” alright. As Halaby readily admits during his short piece, most of his sketches are failed ideas, possibilities that he determined wouldn’t work even before performing them. Yet he performs them anyway, primarily as an explanation of a two-year, funded artist residency in Brussels that he squandered, vainly searching for a great new idea to perform. Suffice to say, the search continues.

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Open to Every Definition of Beauty

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Raimund Hoghe, Chat: Theme and Variation
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
Raimund Hoghe, in his noontime chat at PNCA on September 12th, stated that collaboration and accepting difference are central to his choreography and dance work. When collaborating with other dancers, Hoghe uses a hospitality metaphor to describe their role and his: they are invited to his place and they are free to express themselves, but they can’t change the furniture. “You don’t destroy someone’s house, but you can leave,” he said. Company members adhere to his vision but within that they are free to experiment, to find inspiration, to be themselves. As one dancer said about working with Raimund and in his shows, there is a harmony of nature (sound and movement, personal interactions in rehearsal and on stage) and each dancer’s ego is sublimated to a common goal.

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the race card

quick tip from Laura Becker
Everyone who saw The Shipment may enjoy this segment I’m watching on tonight’s News Hour.

Provisional Sculpture

The Works-369-71-3-5-7 9-3-09 Kenneth Aaron
FOREVER NOW AND THEN AGAIN, Jesse Hayward
Posted By: Jenevive Tatiana
If you imagine that participation in Jesse Hayward’s FOREVER NOW AND THEN AGAIN is merely formal, the enterprise rings with nihilism. On the one hand, it would seem to suggest that the idiom of abstract art has been so exhausted that any potential for expression or innovation it moot. Each dexterously constructed–and aesthetically gratifying–hybrid component is void of differential value; every possible combination is as meaningful or meaningless as any other. Neither the hand of the artist, nor the manipulation of the audience, carries a potential for significance. In fact they undercut each other. The painterly prowess of the artist and the magnitude of his undertaking is diminished by the interchangeability given to his forms, and the volition of the collaborator is attenuated by the equivalency of any possible combination. Free-play is allowed, but only because it has always, already been drained of any consequence. Both the artist and the audience are positioned as deficient and ineffectual. On the other hand, it might be ventured that the artist’s signature is ineluctable; his hand so powerful that all possible permutations rendered by the viewer-collaborator are subsumed by his project. In this proposition, any collaboration by the audience is of nugatory import. The bounds of participation are overdetermined: all deviations or provocations introduced by the viewer-collaborator are incorporated into the overarching framework of the artist. They sit comfortably within the visual identity of the project, even constituting it as such; any variation is perforce recognizable as part of the artist’s language. While this rendition attributes significant intent and effectiveness to the author, the participation of the audience is ultimately inconsequential.

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Everywhere Dancing

AMYO/tinyrage - too
Posted by: Meg Peterson
AMYO/tinyrage-too
We all have a way about our walk; it could be a high center of gravity, a hoppy thing, a shuffling thing. Maybe an unavoidable gesture, or some habit with our hands. There’s a little bit of dance to the way each person moves through the world, even in the most mundane of tasks. Amy O’Neil and Ellie Sandstrom explore the different ways individuals connect through movement in AMYO/tinyrage’s too; a piece that combines a video projection of 50 separate duets with O’Neil and Sandstrom’s live performance. The video was filmed over the course of a year, hopscotching across the U.S. from Washington, Maine, Texas, Idaho, and New York, to finish with a final jump to Tokyo. In many ways the piece feels like a diary of movement, charting relationships via hip swaying and arm swinging. O’Neil and Sandstorm appear as one of two in each duo, though they seem unable to find one another on screen. They manage to remain connected through constant costume changes, intermittently wearing the same items of clothing; sharing them way you would with your sister, or your best friend: a favorite pair of cowboy boots, a polka-dot skirt, a pink t-shirt, a striped dress. The prettiest moments happen when the live dance almost mirrors or overlaps the dance happening on screen, while all four dancers share fragments of the same wardrobe as well. These elements push time around; suggesting a sort of continuity that seems to echo the idea that this is a dance that could be repeated with many different partners in slightly different ways, maybe it’s simply a way of communicating a story or a conversation.
Too shifts dramatically when we’re taken to Tokyo. O’Neil and Sandstrom bring us along on a fragmented montage of drinking and karaoke with friends, that pauses briefly during the live performance to haul an audience member on stage as candy and soda are passed around the house to share. Coaxed into singing along to a roller-coasting patchwork of songs, the volunteer is doomed from the start. Stumbling through a lyrical gauntlet with a bit of aid from the dancers, it’s a strange punctuation to the dialogue about human interaction. Too wraps up with a trip to a Japanese love hotel, O’Neil and her partner dressed as school girls and perched on a motorized circular bed, revolving before mirrors. The dancers fall into a series of slow synchronized poses, spending much of their time pointedly staring into the lens of the camera with their best bedroom eyes. It’s a curious close to a piece that found it’s strongest moments in phrasing between screen and stage, perhaps leaning a bit heavily on a journalistic aspect that simply document where the dancers were, and who they were interacting with. Nonetheless, too still leaves one with the desire to maybe grab the hand of the person waiting patiently next to you in the elevator, and spin them around — it feels like it might be a better way to say something, sometimes.

Variation, Affirmation, and Political Questions

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Raimund Hoghe, Bolero Variations
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
In the first American production of Raimund Hoghe’s Bolero Variations, opening on September 11, 2009, the six-member company was short one dancer. Nabil Yahia-Aissa, an Algerian-born French citizen, was not able to leave France because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security held onto his passport, pending further review (even after his work visa was approved). In a performance that highlights and celebrates difference, Nabil’s absence was tragic. Still, the remaining five members danced beautifully, in a spare performance simultaneously full of concentration and grandeur.

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back home again in no such place

Carter – Erased James Franco
and a bunch of loose ends
posted by Laura Becker
About half way into Carter’s film, James Franco paints a silhouette of his shadow. To be more precise, he draws the outline of his shadow, and then starts to messily fill it in with black watercolor, letting the darkness on his brush seep and seep into the canvas-sized paper thumb tacked to the vulnerable partition wall. This scene, during my last moments of TBA for this whole year, resonated with me for two reasons. One, it’s an eloquent play on the major inspiration for the film, and its title – Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning -which my fellow blogger Cody nicely explains and links to about half way into his review of the film
Second, everything made sense when I found the following on the website from the 2006 Whitney Biennial (which included Carter’s work):

Carter is interested in challenging notions of self-portraiture by making work that acts as a stand-in for an idea of someone. The subsequent second-generation rendering of a person who is already disguised compels us to question our own identity and the many devices we might use to conceal or transform it.

As soon as I read that, I imagined me inside this year’s festival as Don Draper in the animated credits for Mad Men, falling through image after image of corporate pristine nostalgia cloaking messy danger for the masses that’s on its way.
The film dissects gestures, lines and performance tics in perfect pitch with (what I saw in my first official moments of TBA) Miguel Gutierrez’s Last Meadow (also, both include mutated recreations of James Dean). At the same time it provides a dissonant harmony to the beauty in repetition and nuance of Raimund Hoghe’s Bolero Variations. It also inhabits an upper atmosphere in the world of Fawn Krieger’s National Park, reappropriating something real that’s at the same time already a clone of something real.
The movie is also another example of how so much this year played it simple and at the same time disguised. Three dimensions melted into two when they weren’t reduced into cubes. Cutting edge technology was replaced by overhead projectors and pirate radio. Trick-or-treaters and public-access post-apocalyptic paranoids dressed up in costume and masks.
I’m reminded of what Kristan Kennedy said during the first noon-time chat, describing how she felt when she first saw Robert Boyd’s Conspiracy Theory (still at PNCA) between when we were electing and inaugurating Obama and everyone seemed cuckoo for cocoa puffs with hopelessly devoted hope over him. Kristan admitted that she actually had felt totally detached from these feelings. Questioning everybody’s hopeful sentiment, she was thinking “What? Guys, we’re still totally fucked!”
We might not want to see it in this year’s festival, but that sense of paralyzing futility is there. And I think it’s saying, hey, we can open your eyes to it, but it’s you that has to do something about it. Unless you just want to be painting a shadow of what could be there.

Pictures punctuate the particulars and Erik’s playing is phenomenal!

Erik Friedlander, Block Ice and Propane
Posted by: Daniel Manuszak
When you grow up the son of a driven artist, you may end up traversing the entirety of the country multiple times in a camper affixed to the back of a pick up truck. These motions, raga like in tone and asphalt drone, would probably seep into your veins and hum the music of the formative years of your life. Every song you play would feel of a picture taken by your father and every photograph you see would sing of the distance between stop sign shadows on the corner of any-town USA… would mimic the upright awkwardness of teenagers standing at a distance in the desert…. smirking with the demeaning well-meaning criticism/witticism of an eccentric former moonshiner, beet farmer uncle. Erik Friedlander has taken those movements of inspiring uncomfortable travel, coupled with the angst of being dragged through the process of self definition, and formed them into a cohesive story that brought back for me all the trips from Blacksburg, Va to Cleveland, Ohio for Thanksgiving. A couple times we made the trek to my mother’s parents in El Paso, Tx, but that was always a 3 day epic journey each way. Oreos rolled out the back windows of our station wagon and, after a bit of coercion, bits and pieces of my younger brother’s Barney doll… a little bit of, “I love you, you love me,” all across the mid-west and through the hills of Tennessee. Man, it takes forever to get across Tennessee east to west! North/south goes a lot quicker, but the length! Almost as long as Texas.
I did not grow up the son of an artist, but our family did take many road trips. Erik’s masterful performance drew me into those moments of relentless boredom spiked by intermittent joy. The joy on family road trips is unfettered, having been distilled through the purifying process of low grade annoyance and the unrelenting passage of land moving past fast on either side. Pictures punctuate the particulars and Erik’s playing is phenomenal!

“We Didn’t Rehearse Much”

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Carter , Erased James Franco
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
“This is my favorite performance of any that I have ever done,” James Franco states glowingly about working with Carter on Erased James Franco. I have to wonder: really? He looks and acts like he’s high, eyes hanging like a drowsy Robert Mitchum, and nearly incomprehensible. Franco looked better high in Pineapple Express than he does here, where directorial restraint looks like an overdose. The only revealing aspect of Franco’s character we see is that perhaps he’s not the best judge of his body of work.

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All Good Things Must Come to an End – and Thankfully End Well with James Franco

Carter
Erased James Franco
Sunday, September 13th 4:30 P.M.
Whitsell Auditorium @ PAM
By Eve Connell

Sunday afternoon, I nursed a T:BA:09 hangover just like everyone else. As the weather shifted, I hauled my weary bones inside for an interesting hour of Carter’s Erased James Franco. Challenging the confines of acting, narrative, and identity seemed like a good plan for a lazy day, and by the size of the crowd at the theatre, was obviously what many others had in mind, too.

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Some Things Last a Long Time

Pan Pan Theatre: Performance as an Autonomous Aesthetic Activity (workshop)
Inside/Outside: Back to Back Theatre (noontime chat)
Posted By: Julie Hammond
“The problem with theatre is it takes up so much time.” Gavin Quinn, Pan Pan Theatre
Pan Pan Theatre Workshop: CaroleZoom
“Our work takes a really long time.” Alice Nash, Back to Back Theatre
Chat: Back to Back Theatre
For 120 minutes Gavin Quinn Artistic Director of Pan Pan Theatre, giving his first workshop since 1999, spoke with a group of 20 self-proclaimed individual artists, about the trouble of theatre. This was less workshop than lecture, and he guaranteed some people would leave feeling annoyed by the lack of doing, but what is to be done? Theatre takes so long.

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All Crumbs and No Trail

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Pan Pan Theatre, The Crumb Trail
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
The Crumb Trail, Pan Pan Theatre’s take on the Hansel and Gretel story, is an absurdist mix of technology, wine drinking, bread making, reappropriation, dance, music, costumes, rape fantasies, and other sorts of eye-popping hoopla. However, dancing on stage as you reenact whatever’s projected on a screen behind you (such as when Pan Pan dance to famous YouTube clips) is redundant in the art world and especially at TBA. It’s not fresh; it’s just old. It’s full of sound and [mild] fury, signifying nothing. In an attempt to mimic the show’s style, I just used a cliché. While it’s certainly fun and exciting at times, to what end does all this energy go?

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Circling in on ourselves

The Works: CaroleZoom
Peter Coffin, untitled
Posted By: Jenevive Tatiana
Arriving into a gallery space–even one as nomadic and unexpected as the WORKs–the viewer comes laden with a kaleidoscope of expectations and experiences that gives his or her particular viewing experience a singular, subjective quality. Any image, texture, phrase, smell, sound and perhaps even taste, encountered in an art installation might conjure any number of memories. More abstractly, our knowledge of contemporary art and art history, and any concomitant opinions, provides a filter through which we interpret and judge what we find before us. Beyond these practical registers mediating the experience of art is a primary form of anticipation. We expect to encounter some arrangement of objects and ideas. The encounter will encompass confrontation, engagement, reaction and evaluation. Perhaps we will stand in front of something, circle it and contemplate it. Perhaps not. While colored by the aforementioned subjective factors, this set of mental and physical behaviors is what we expect to bring to bear. And it is the raw material of this anticipation that artist Peter Coffin sculpts in his untitled work.

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Sesame Street for Adults

Circles and Spinning Wheels
Curated by Melody Owen
Posted by Ariel Frager
As a unifying theme, Circles and Spinning Wheels may have been the most literal of all TBA offerings. As promised, the selection of short video programming curated by local artist Melody Owen, there were lots of circles, turning and spinning, opening and closing. In her introduction Owen told the audience to fear not, if you don’t like one of the videos it will be over soon. The longest in the program was a whopping five minutes long, kind of like Sesame Street for adults.

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Nervous Sweat

A few hours before the show, a friend told me about a performance Miguel Gutierrez once staged in the artist’s own Bensonhurst apartment. The apartment was small, about the size of a bed, and hot. Sweat soon drenched the bodies of the assembled crowd, and Gutierrez ordered everyone to take off their clothes. The line between performer and audience, public and private, self and other, blurred uncomfortably; skin slid against skin. Another time, she saw Gutierrez loose a blind dancer on a stage strewn with barbed wire–a set-up so unnerving that my friend actually ran from the theater crying.
So it wasn’t totally surprising that, in the corridor where the audience was queuing outside the theater at the PCPCA, an eery chorus of whoops and giggles was pouring from the PA system–a signal that Guttierez and the Powerful People had already spiked the Kool-Aid. This mildly addling tonic would soon kick in more fully–the piece opens with a blaring, mostly incomprehensible speech by a slurring drunk and gets stranger from there–but nearly from the outset, a love triangle provides a comforting, if gender-skewed, handhold in “Last Meadow.”

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I Don’t Want to Lose You

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Back to Back Theatre, small metal objects
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
Back to Back Theatre’s small metal objects is a deceptively simple performance about a disrupted drug deal (which takes place in Pioneer Courthouse Square). While the plot is easier to ascertain, the motivations are less so: why does one of the dealers not want to work with today’s buyer? In a show that prioritizes friendship over quick cash, people over money, we see what the world ought to be. The actors with the disabilities play characters who know the value of friendship, while the actors without disabilities play characters who have yet to learn that value.

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Transfixed and Transformed

Raimund Hoghe
Bolero Variations
Friday, September 11th 8:30 P.M.
Newmark Theatre
By Eve Connell

Subtle, meditative, captivating seemed to be the organizing principles of Raimund Hoghe’s US debut performance of Bolero Variations. So much happened with so few, precise movements of the five minimalist dancers. One of the dancers (originally set for six) had the misfortune of being French though Algerian born, and thusly had his passport held by US Homeland Security officials. (All perfectly orchestrated for a September 11th performance, in case we weren’t paying attention.) While this news came as a blow to us all, and certainly affected the mood and energy of the company and T:BA:09 staff, it did not appear to hinder the work in any obvious way – and may have actually added another layer of subtlety, a variation.

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considering audience and the critic

Posted by: Seth Nehil
I headed into T:BA as a blogger thinking about DK Row’s Oregonian article and Tim DuRoch’s response. It had me considering notions of accessibility, difficulty and exclusiveness in contemporary performance. I don’t think DK’s original argument was very productive. I mean, really – how can you begin to compare a collection of dance, theater and performance works (not to mention the concerts, lectures and installations, etc.) to a Trailblazers game? They’re like different worlds and each has its place. But I guess it’s a bitter truth that absurd, ignorant or outrageous postings do generate conversation in a comments section (…well, not exactly conversation, more like a chain of related monologues) while thoughtful or elegant articles are (hopefully) read and appreciated, but tend to lie dormant.
I headed into the act of writing criticism this year feeling very ambivalent about the role of the critic. Is it really our job to influence people’s opinions? I often doubt that minds can be changed at all, and certainly not through the direct consequence of some critic’s loquacity. If DK is really concerned about inviting a broader public into T:BA, then why not write an article which lets a potential audience know about pieces they might best enjoy. Something like an “easy-o-meter” which might guide viewers to works that match their level of interest.
We have to admit that different works are made for different audiences. Audiences don’t necessarily overlap – and that’s ok! We can acknowledge that some work takes training to appreciate. These works might require curiosity, diligence and self-education on the part of the viewer. The reward for this effort is the pleasure of new experience, new ways of seeing, a shift away from habitual modes of understanding.
As I think about writing criticism, I get caught in an epistemological quandary. How do I know that what I know is worth knowing? In response to this problem, I have been thinking about the way criticism might engage a root subjectivity. This would be expressed through a recognition of one’s own subjective experience, while allowing for an infinity of other subjectivities, all co-existing and overlapping. This would mean approaching a work on its own terms, not attacking it for being something it isn’t. It would mean examining one’s own bias, experience and perspective and positioning oneself in complicated relationship to a work, rather than judging based on predetermined conditions and absolute definitions. It’s a difficult or perhaps impossible task, but I think critics owe this to the intelligence of their readers.
Difficult art requires attention. Attention is the gift we give ourselves in approaching and understanding the artist’s intentions, convictions and ideas. Attention is built upon a foundation of basic commitment. We commit ourselves to a work, in an exchange with the artist(s) who commit themselves to an act of communication. I’m becoming more and more convinced that commitment is the key term in the exchange between artist and audience. It is commitment which opens up the possibility of pleasure through attention.
Should critics write about work to which they are not committed? Does a negative review actually help readers? I would be curious to hear other people’s thoughts.

Portland Sightings

Back to Back Theatre
small metal objects
Friday, September 11th 12:30 P.M.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
By Eve Connell

My pals and I are obsessed with a game known to us as Portland Sightings wherein a keen-eyed viewer (one of us) stumbles upon a character or a scene as part of the backdrop of our every day lives and calls the others to report out in excruciating detail. Heightened levels of hilarity and/or disgust are always encouraged. Anything is up for grabs – obviously, the most strange and complex people garner the most enthusiasm and attention. Participating in the public, subtle spectacle that was small metal objects was a real treat, to say the least, and added to my fodder for this week’s Portland Sightings installments. (Noteworthy interruption: Mandi has just called to report on the 250+lb woman in yellow spandex bodysuit with green thong overlay playing tennis at the courts near her house. See my point?)

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LeftOva and Ova and Ova Again

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Kalup Linzy, SweetBerry: Sampled and LeftOva
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
Beloved New York video and performance artist Kalup Linzy strutted on stage in a fine-looking dress (only to wear a black polka-dotted swimsuit later). Local jazz group The Ben Darwish Trio played tight, funky soul music as SweetBerry (Linzy’s alter ego) sang songs of lust and love lost, alongside two backup singers. Despite some initial soulful material and excitement, the show became more of the same as songs drifted into one another and too much time passed between them.

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Moving and Critical: Daniel Barrow

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Daniel Barrow, Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
Daniel Barrow’s Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry is my favorite piece of this year’s festival. Subdued yet revelatory, Barrow’s storytelling combines words, music, and art to exquisite effect. As Pablo de Ocampo, curator for Cinema Project says, this work ranks among the best in moving images art. Barrow manipulates over 300 drawn and colored transparencies as he tells one of the strangest and saddest stories I’ve ever heard. The recorded soundtrack, by Amy Linton (of the band The Aislers Set), highlights the moods and acts like a film score.

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mindfulness

Raimund Hoghe – Bolero Variations
posted by: Seth Nehil
I walked out of Bolero Variations feeling refreshed and hyper-aware. It took some time to re-calibrate my brain to the pace of this beautiful dance, but once I got there, it was like time zones slipping past each other. A hummingbird might see dance this way, everything slowed to ¼ speed, gloriously magnified, full of detail, exquisitely precise. Bolero Variations demonstrates that dance can have a direct psycho-physical effect on a viewer’s body. Rather than hitting us with impact, crushing us (pun intended) with endless effects, it invites us closer, asks us to enter the dance, incites us to pay closer attention. There was always more to notice.
It seems that reducing this piece to any description is a major disservice. The dancers etched strong, clear lines across the stage, in complete control. Each piece of music was treated like a miniature work, accompanied by decisive, clear and translucent choreography. This was dance at its most dignified and refined. I was captivated by its grace.
I was often reminded of visual art. A Robert Ryman painting – subtle variations on white. Or Richard Tuttle’s paper octagons – a shadow geometry that threatens to disappear. Or zen calligraphy – a simple stroke which embodies years of practice. It takes absolute confidence and conviction to make dance this unembellished and lucid. It felt like an opening in the world.

Now I know what it would look like to take the bar band from One-Eyed Jacks and place them in a lab where experiments are being conducted on the feelings of plants.

Oregon Painting Society at The Works
Posted by: Seth Nehil
Oregon Painting Society are an exercise in cognitive dissonance, which is delicious. Let’s start with the name. Sure, they live in Oregon, and they are a society of sorts, and some of them do make paintings, but this doesn’t begin to explain the full scope of the group. And then there’s the stage covered in people, houseplants, microphones, boxes and various instruments. Two people are in strange costumes and stand stiffly at 90 degree angles, chanting lines like some outer-space Robert Ashley opera, circa 2050. How does a witches coven envelop a deconstructed doo-wop ballad? “Why must I be a teenager in Love…?” “Ancient Teenager…” How does a New Age CGI desert sunset transform into a warbled solo psychedelic distorto-blues? How does a Woolly Mammoth swarm around in zombie-fried aerobics-instructor mode while Slaves croon? I can only answer – it just does, in sudden turns and spasms. “Points on a Circle. Earth as Game Board.”
Oregon Painting Society display the joys and collisions of collective creation. Competing and divergent aesthetics gloriously coexist, producing an energy which could result in gallery installations or tweaky stage shows or video works, or (we can hope) recordings, publications, etc. Each of these artists has one or more separate identities and projects, and in OPS they crash and comingle their ideas, merging and morphing. There’s no attempt to dissolve identities, but rather to let them co-exist within a weird universe. It was impossible to get a footing. I was constantly swept off my feet. My feet were made out of blocks of swiss cheese, and I was repeatedly saved by a St. Bernard with a Rum cask. In a final burst of fractal star-sweeps and choral sighs, I slid down the formica mountain and landed in a pile of sparkles. I’m ready for the next ride!

Here and There

AMYO/tinyrage – too
posted by: Seth Nehil
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Choreographer Amy O’Neal met friends, family and fellow dancers in a wide variety of places – urban, domestic, rural and public. Using the specific energy of spaces to inspire movement is an interesting idea, and was also by far the best aspect of the robbinschilds C.L.U.E. live performance. Bringing dancers out of the black box theater and into contact with mundane realities can be an energizing notion. Making dance in and about site initiates a body in response to its environment – interacting, feeling, reacting. For me, the issues (in a broad sense) begin when those locations are brought back onto the stage.

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Crushing on Locust

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locust, crushed
Posted by: Dusty Hoesly
Crushed is an explosive mix of hip-hop and contemporary dance, live beatboxing and sampled music, and video projection showing the same dancers in other contexts. The opening video images of a locust in a farmer’s field are both funny and upsetting: the video is edited to show the locust and then the farmer, cutting back and forth between the two as the farmer runs into the field and crushes the insect, all while musician Zeke Keeble provides live sound effects for each character. Right away we engage several themes in the show: life and death, sensuality and violence, organic and inorganic, sequencing and randomness. The color green dominates the show, appropriately symbolizing nature and new life or inexperience.

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American Family Road Trip

Erik Friedlander
Block Ice and Propane
Posted by Ariel Frager
When choosing shows for this years TBA I had about five minutes to read through the catalogue, check to make sure the show times didn’t conflict and to select which performances I wanted to see. Had I read more carefully, I never would have “chosen” to see a cellist. Sure I like cello, it has that seductive sexy between the legs thing going for it, but really I don’t think I would have chosen a cellist over all the other odd ball arty pieces TBA put up this year. I am very thankful my regular tendencies did not take over, Erik Friedlander’s Block Ice and Propane, a cello concert with projected still and film images turned out to be one of my festival highlights, if not my all out favorite.

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…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Bread

PAN PAN THEATRE / The Crumb Trail
Pan Pan Theatre, The Crumb Trail
Posted by: Jim Withington
I began this post today simply because I felt the need for a different voice up here: simply put, Pan Pan Theatre’s The Crumb Trail is not a bad show, and I didn’t want it to go out like that. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this is the best of the “weird” this year, of the stuff that made the “WTF?” bells go off in my head. And for many festival-goers, that’ll be enough of an endorsement for them to see the show.
It’s not a perfect show, and it wasn’t my favorite of the year, but it was definitely both good and worth attending, and I only wish I could have gotten this post out before the last performance started tonight.

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I’m missing something…a feeling…a feeling I’ve sensed

Back to Back Theatre in Pioneer Square
small metal objects*
posted by: Laura Becker
“Everything has a fucking value!”
small-metal-objects-010 Kenneth Aaron-9-9-09
Steve is having a metaphysical breakdown and Gary, a successful businessman who prides himself on being a good friend first, and come to think of it probably Steve’s only friend in the world, is trying to soothe him from the extraordinary existential crisis that has arisen in Steve. Upon hearing that Gary needs knee surgery and will have to be put under anesthesia, Steve can’t help but imagine the worst. We are privy to this intensely private conversation between two friends yards and yards away from us in Pioneer Square because we have headphones, and they have subtle wireless headset mikes, and we have figured out who they are, standing over there, near the MAX stop, blending in like that really odd color in a paisley pattern, and, oh so, yeah, definitely, that’s them. Yep, here they come.

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Winnipeg Babysitter

Daniel Barrow, Winnipeg Babysitter
posted by Kirsten Collins
What would happen if everyone in town had their own TV show? What small dream would they have to share? How would they represent themselves to their community? Part time capsule, part documentary, part Waiting for Guffman, Winnipeg Babysitter answers these questions by creating an uncensored portrait of this Canadian community circa 1985.
Overall, this piece is like watching a high school performance of an obscure play in the next town over. You have no personal connection to the players nor intense nostalgia for the material. They are clearly amateur with limited resources and low production value. Everything about it points to a boring waste of time.
You laugh at how bad it is, and yet you can’t help but root for each and every one of them–the heavy metal puppeteers, the seniors hosting tacky crafting and cooking shows, the math geek solving the “problem of the week” while his sister plays piano, the teen boy comedy hour, the survivalist parody. These average citizens are taking a risk by calling themselves artists and broadcasting what that they find worthwhile. The compelling part is not what they’re doing, it’s that they’re doing it with such gusto.

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A Broken History of the American Tradition of Breaking with Tradition, or The Tent Project by Ariana Jacob

Ariana Jacob
Outside the Works at Washington High School
Sept 8th -11th
posted by Susan Ploetz
I wanted to post something quickly about this guerrilla piece that has been happening this week outside of the works, so that maybe some people could get a chance to stop by for what could be one of its final installments tonight, between 9 – 10 pm outside the front entrance of Washington high school (to the left, underneath the trees on the grass right in front of the school).
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Unlike some of the other guerrilla performances I’ve seen at the works this year, such as the unknown (to me) noise band that tried to set up camp and play (only to be shut down after 2 minutes or so), or Jarrett Mitchell’s Don’t Bomb the Moon protest (which I hope to blog about as well), Jacobs’ set up is quiet, peaceful, but nonetheless intriguing. A blue tent with silhouettes (unnamed citizens on one side and more recognizable ones on the other) glows from the inside, which is lined with blankets and pillows printed with quotes from the likes of James Baldwin and Thoreau. There are books provided for you to read, from important American thinkers, but really the better way to spend your time in this cozy spot is to let Jacob ask you what it feels like, to you, to be an American. Really, like in YOUR BODY. Jacob has a phenomenological* approach to difficult questions that, addressed in more typical ways, too often can leave people divided and divisive. The coziness Jacob has created inside the tent is no simple comfort, but a tool she wields in her quest to marry the heart with the mind, politics with the body, but not necessarily in a “body politics” way. The gentle glow of the tent is the perfect setting for Jacob to feel sheltered and comfortable and intimately ask you the questions she often asks of herself. But it’s also a quiet gift she is giving you, the chance to think about yourself and your country in a relaxed way that allows more space for more possibilities for what it means (or could mean) to be an American.
Don’t rely on my blurry picture for an accurate glimpse at the piece, go tonight and see for yourself.
* (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Merleau-Ponty )

The Open Road Inspires

Erik Friedlander
Block Ice & Propane
Thursday, September 10th 8:30 P.M.
Winningstad Theatre (aka The Hollywood Squares)
By Eve Connell

Open spaces and open notes feature prominently in Erik Friedlander’s intimate performance, which I and my T:BA:09 compatriots were privy to last night. With a touching backdrop of family summer road trip photographs, (mostly) taken by his father, Lee Friedlander, and a similarly themed video selection created in collaboration with Bill Morrison, our evening together proved captivating.

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Yes, I Am Negative and Vegetarian

Pan Pan Theatre
The Crumb Trail
Wednesday, September 9th 8:30 P.M.
Winningstad Theatre (The Hollywood Squares)
By Eve Connell

The intro segment to The Crumb Trail was quite a tease: Sharp banter! Linguistic play! Snarky, subtle challenges to one’s identity! A modern-day tweaking of a fable or two! I was ready for one wild ride. Directly connecting with the audience was a great ploy to draw us in, as was engaging us in baking bread, but swiftly that connection was broken or lost or tripped over and muddled up with unnecessary antics.

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What Works for the future of Washington High

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Ethan_Seltzer.jpg
The Works: Future of WAMO
posted by Tim DuRoche
Planner Ethan Seltzer offers some thoughts on possibilities for Washington High post-TBA: 09
At the opening night of the Works (née Washington High School) last week, I happened to see City Councilman Nick Fish talking with Ethan Seltzer, professor in the School of Urban Studies and Planning at PSU. In addition to his day-gig, Seltzer’s got a fantastic track record as a neighborhood activist, exuberant supporter of culture and the arts (including being a former PICA board member) and cut his teeth in the Portland public arena working for Arts Champ/City Commissioner Mike Lindberg, once upon a time.
I asked Ethan [as well as Nick. . . ahem!] if he might allow me to publicly pick his brain on his experience of Washington HS as a temporary adaptive reuse. With his richly diverse background, it occured to me that he might have some interesting perspective or good questions regarding its future as public space and its possibilities for community cultural develoment.
TdR: Ethan, as someone who’s a planner (and thinks a lot about public 
space/public good/social capital) with both a background in neighborhood activism and a history of involvement with the arts, I’m curious about  what you think the best vision for  WHS is, in terms of  public space needs and neighborhood cultural vitality?
Ethan: Great questions and very timely, especially given the work of the WAMO  task force.  What is the “best” vision?  Tough to say.  What we saw on Thursday night is what we ought to see regularly: a public building,  inside and out of the weather, where the work of artists can be seen,  made, and commented on.  Clearly PICA has the skill and talent to turn WHS into that kind of place… they’ve just proven it!  If Pioneer  Square is the City’s living room, WHS should be its basement workshop… a place for ideas to flow, take root, and get tossed around, if not out.  First Thursday and its siblings are fine for what they are, but they stop way short of “making”… Portland needs a place where art gets made and I think WHS could be it.  However, as  much as I see the promise in a place with a desparately needed mid-size theater, rehearsal space, studio space, etc, I also think that  the long-standing needs of the neighborhood for a community center and pool need to be envisioned as part of this. 
That is, it’s not enough  for the arts community to cherry pick the building…there has to be a broader vision and commitment or else we’ll see the arts community pitted against the neighborhood, and that is entirely unnecessary. Also, note that the neighborhood is making parking a nonnegotiable item.  I suspect that after TBA, their concerns here will only be stronger.  This is a key issue that must be dealt with up front.  I’m not saying that we ought to buy into a WalMart kind of parking ratio,  but we, all of us, need to be concerned about how cars intersect the community, and how we can minimize their presence and impact in that location.  So I say, lets line up the barcoloungers down around the 
ping pong table and have at it!
How about you, Nick? Your city portfolio includes parks & rec and housing (and requires a fragile balancing act to meet the needs of each)–what kind of future development would you like to see on the site? While close-in affordable housing is certainly a priority, doesn’t inner SE deserve a facility like Dishman, SW Community Center or Mt. Scott that serves a wide-range of needs and adds neighborhood value? What does a win-win for the building and the community look like?

Highlights from Circles and Spinning wheels….

the time is now
circles and spinning wheels & if i could crowd all my souls into that mountain / Curated by Melody Owen
Posted by Jim Withington
At the opening of the afternoon of film that she hosted, Melody Owen said something to the effect of, “and hey, if you don’t like something, just wait a minute or so, and something else will start!”
That advice certainly came in handy, but the good stuff was worth a bit of sifting though the rest. That’s how an afternoon of shorts should be, right?
Here are a few pieces that I especially enjoyed, pulled from various internet sources If you’re interested at all in these pieces, please do go to the screenings and enjoy them in their full glory.

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self-inflicted utopia of torture: or the tiny dictatorships of group therapy/theater workshops

Pan Pan Theater Workshop
Conduit Dance, Sept 10th
posted by Susan Ploetz
the description of the workshop in the TBA program went like this: “Gavin Quinn and members of Pan Pan invite interdisciplinary performance makers, collaborators, and artists to this hands-on workshop about new, unknown, and impossible practices of artistic expression born from new and leading ideas.” Somehow i envisioned projectors, cameras, as representative of “new and leading ideas”, us running around using them and learning new ways of creating performance and synthesizing new strategies as performers, or, at least a little taste of that. What i got was a 105 minute of ideas and quotes from an outline of a workshop Gavin gave in 1998.

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I Believe(d) In You

I Believe(d) In You
Robert Boyd, Conspiracy Theory
Feldman Gallery, PNCA

Lying in bed today with some lingering sickness that has transmuted into a sinus infection, I was thinking about Robert Boyd’s video piece, Conspiracy Theory. My original angle was going to be about how the piece was almost a nostalgic look at conspiracy theories … I mean, really, who’s worrying about alien abductions, lizard people, and AIDS these days when there is the threat of electro-magnetic assassination, HAARP and governmental weather control (linked into FEMA and inevitable martial law), Swine Flu and the likes…? Then I realized well, with the help of Kylie Minogue, that the piece is also largely about who we believe in this world about what, and why.

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Written, Illustrated, and Performed

Daniel Barrow, Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry
posted by Kirsten Collins
Wow. I hope Portland explodes with overhead projector projects in the next year.
Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry by Daniel Barrow is both comforting in its familiarity and whimsy, and astounding in its creativity and technical execution. Watching this piece was simply lovely. It was like stepping into a child’s imagination as a favorite picture book comes to life.
Barrow’s live animation technique was novel (there must be other artists working in similar ways, but this was a first for me). He sat in front of an overhead projector, layering sheets of illustrations and then gently moving them around to create moving images. Eyeballs layered over a face swim around and pop out. Annie Sullivan’s disembodied hands layered over a child Hellen Keller make sign language gestures. A boy drags a used Christmas tree down the street. It was amazing how much detail, emotion, and story he was able to create through pairing illustrations, subtle movement, and bringing layers in and out of focus.

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Slug Sex and Waltzing

Maybe Forever – Meg Stuart/Philipp Gehmacher
Posted by: Meg Peterson
A projection of dewy ferns, beds of moss, and a glowing pair of dead-heading dandelions loom over Maybe Forever’s carpeted landscape. Meg Stuart and Philipp Gehmacher lay parallel to one another, bathed in murky grayscale light and a clinky-clunky churning soundtrack. They softly lift from their respective middles, twitching upward; but find gravity a formidable force, pinning them back down. A natural association is time-lapse video, watching the jerky movement of something growing bigger over the course of months, as bones and blood push outward and expand into space. Stuart and Gehmacher’s recumbent chemistry is the glue of Maybe Forever. They roll over each other, attracting like two little magnets in your hand, only to push violently apart, repelling when the wrong ends meet: north to north, south to south. Their horizontal ballet trumps all other elements of the piece. It exhumes emotions that most bury and barricade behind the doors of teenage diaries. It conjures a myriad of associations, driving one to compose angst ridden haiku poetry on the back of a TBA program –
private sign-language
compress a year of breathing
channel dark matter
blood-filled puppets push
vision wreckage now on view
ill-fitting egos

Yes, it can be embarrassing.
But it can also feel good to listen to The Cure on a rainy Sunday, and replay the memory of someone’s heart beating. So, fuck it. Maybe Forever pushes picking the scab, and revels in the regret of vulnerability.
However, the piece is also punctuated with dissonant elements that leach much of the pheromonic juice from the duo’s movement across the carpet. There are discombobulated monologues, gloopy pop interludes from singer-songwriter Niko Hafkenscheid, perplexing costume changes, and deeply awkward waltzing. These elements tend to unravel the focus of the piece, and lead Maybe Forever down the path of a slow and uncomfortable dream. Riddled with confused innuendo and lost symbols, they dilute the mix. Take these cards off the table, and leave only the bodies of two dancers feeling for each other like they are following a trail through the forest. They may only meet for moments, intertwine like a candy cane, and then unceremoniously fall back to the leaf litter — but those brief moments were certainly lovely.

Quick Hits

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Posted by: Jim Radosta
Photo by: CaroleZoom
The past few days have been packed with so many TBA performances, I’ve had trouble finding a spare moment to reflect on and write about the experiences. In the interest of saving both your time and mine, here are some ADD-friendly thoughts on the highs and lows.
Afrobeat Tribute to Michael Jackson (09.07.09): As I have written about previously, the King of Pop’s sudden death in June really shook me. And I’m not the only one–the silver lining of this cloud was that, after Jacko’s demise, it instantly became safe again to admit that you admired his music. So I was eagerly looking forward to a public celebration of his contributions to pop culture…but I have to admit that I just wasn’t grooving with Portland composer Ben Darwish’s liberal reinterpretation of timeless classics like “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Billie Jean.” Despite the undeniable talent on display at The Works, I came away feeling that it’s simply too soon to mess with perfection.
Meg Stuart (09.04.09): The audience member who booed at the end of the West Coast premiere of Maybe Forever got me to thinking, “Who decided that booing is only allowed on American Idol, The Price Is Right and sportscasts?” As a nameless Wikipedestrian suggests, does “the combination of booing and applause help keep the quality of public performance high, by emotionally rewarding the good and punishing the bad”? Good question. This performance at Newmark Theatre wasn’t my cup of tea–it felt sparse and stretched out at 90 minutes long and would’ve been better served at a more intimate venue–but I chose to express my disinterest by (blush) nodding off.
Tyler Wallace and Nicole Dill (09.07.09): This is precisely the kind of site-specific TBA installation that keeps me coming back for more every year (pictured). The simple concept of Between Us–two women park their car in a field, allowing the audience to listen in on their chatter–belies the profound revelations hidden in their seemingly mundane conversation (friendship, family, death). It wasn’t until the performance’s abrupt ending that I realized how captivated I was at this subversive form of eavesdropping.
Brian Lund (09.06.09): Drawings inspired by Busby Berkeley’s choreographed dance sequences and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street? Sorry, I didn’t get it.

One Hand. Tied.

Miguel Gutierrez and The Powerful People, Last Meadow
Posted by: Jen Olesen
My father loved James Dean. And Marlon Brando. I remember posters hanging in his living room from Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One. Originals. Framed. These men were important to him. They were in our home. As a kid I wondered why my dad gravitated to them so much. Why they were on our walls. I guess they did what most idols do – grab you at the right place and time to bridge the gap between who you are and who you’d like to be, however exaggerated or not. For my dad as a young man in the Midwest in the late 1950s who could have made more sense? James Dean embodied something so unaffected. Aloof. Unreachable. So masculine. But, of course, he was more than that.

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locust + Tiny TBA = Inspired Kids

Tiny TBA
locust: Crushed
Posted by: Ariel Frager
I brought my nephews to Tiny TBA again this year. Hoping to avoid a repeat performance of an all out meltdown, I coerced their father into joining the festivities. As we wandered the halls of Washington High School, I imagined Ethan, a newly anointed first grader, finding his way around a high school of his own in eight short years. He stuffed himself into an old locker and both his dad and I hoped that wasn’t a sign of things to come.

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Working together, taking it apart

Tune In Chat: CaroleZoom
Working Together Chat
Posted By: Jenevive Tatiana

In yesterday’s chat “Tune In: Media Saturation and Manipulation” the most interesting issues to emerge engaged not the increasing digitization and interconnectivity of modern life, but immemorial questions of form, content and community. Visual artists Antoine Catala, Gregory Green and Stephen Slappe spoke with Kristan Kennedy about their use of media and technology in their respective practices. The artists first briefly rehearsed the main thrust of their projects in this year’s festival. Catala’s media “blobs” objectify a live television feed into anthropomorphically-scaled projected sculptures. Green provides a “direct media intervention” in the form of a pirate radio station installed in a gallery and open to un-curated participation. Finally, Slappe’s web-based project uses the internet as both an active and standard archive, inviting Halloween-costumed participants to join his eerie “legion.” The conversation, representing the full range of radio, television and internet, hovered between optimism and pessimism, as well as fascination, hope and deep mistrust.

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Surrealism, Longing, and Helen Keller

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Daniel Barrow

Every Time I see your Picture I Cry


By Emily Katz
Daniel Barrow’s performance/film piece titled: “Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry”, is a brutally honest story of a man filled with longing to create something immortal, a love of Helen Keller, and a eye dropper addiction.

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shimmy and shake, and the best pizza in portland

Dj Beyonda at the Works
9/8/09
by Emily Katz
After the hilarious and defining performance by Artist in Residence Kalup Linzy, the large crowd quickly escaped the theater to refresh on drinks and eat from the now 3 food cart options, recharging to dance all night long.

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Raw Energy Unleashed

locust crushed
Tuesday, September 8th 6:30 P.M.
THE WORKS
By Eve Connell

Seattle scenesters, locust, performed their final of two shows last night. What a great way to not only propel us into the second half of the T:BA:09 festival, but to do so with volition and intent. It’s what this week needs – energy, enthusiasm, some blatant rough stuff rather than psycho-subtle messages that rely solely on minutely refined movements attempting to communicate a higher meaning.
locust: crushed: CaroleZoom

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Powerful People, Indeed

Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People
Last Meadow
Monday, September 7th 8:30 P.M.
Winningstad Theatre
By Eve Connell

The most powerful people I’ve witnessed unleashing their vast and supreme talents in the last week have actually had nothing to do with T:BA:09.

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Better Than YouTube and Reddit Together

Circles and Spinning Wheels and If I Could Crowd All My Souls into That Mountain
By Jens Larson

The video works in Melody Owen’s curated collections (Circles and Spinning Wheels and If I Could Crowd All My Souls into That Mountain) have very little time to develop their themes, shape their characters and elicit reactions from viewers. While it’s unlikely any viewer will like all the works (there are more than 20!), the collection’s strength is its ability to expose viewers to diverse styles, techniques and multiple schools of cinema.

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Avant-garde Art and Obsolete Technology

Daniel Barrow, Everytime I See Your Picture I Cry
By Jens Larson
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It’s safe to say that liking art and appreciating art are vastly different propositions, so while viewers may not “like” Daniel Barrow’s Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry (it is, after all, a bit deviant and defies more than several narrative conventions), most will appreciate the skill behind its creation.
Barrow’s performance combines live narration, an original musical score, hand drawn art, a bit of video, and the dexterous use of an overhead projector (which is not quite obsolete, it seems). Throughout the hour-long performance, Barrow and his assistant cycle through a series of transparencies as Barrow tells his tale. A Christmas-y, bell-filled soundtrack supports the show, which is quite possibly one of the most unique and intriguing performances at TBA this year and certainly one of the performances most in keeping with the festival’s mission.

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We demand payment for making the world more interesting.

W.A.G.E. Lecture with A.L. Steiner
Posted by: Benjamin Adrian
Working Artists and the Greater Economy is an activist group seeking change in the way art institutions remunerate artists. Founding member A.L. Steiner began her lecture by reading excerpts from a letter (pdf) sent by artist Hollis Frampton to Donald Richie, then curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art. Frampton explains why he cannot accept the terms offered by MOMA for access to his films. MOMA had offered mere “love and honor,” but no money. Frampton explains that like everyone else involved with the production and exhibition of the work, he needed to be paid. This letter is dated January 7th, 1973. Steiner’s point is that not much has changed.

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PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME

The Shipment, Young Jean Lee & Company
seen on Friday Sept. 5th
Posted by: Susan Ploetz3889104162_06decc8bf1.jpg
As I walked home from watching the Shipment, I felt open and tender to everyone passing by me. I wanted to sit with the woman eating alone outside a fancy restaurant, because she looked sad (probably I was just making a huge assumption), I wanted to chat with the homeless guy with the pressed hair. I wanted to know the dudes story on the max with the distorted face, if he was lonely, what he was going to do later that night… I thought of my own loneliness that is somehow intertwined with my capacity to feel compassion towards other people. I thought of how unfair life is, how unjust, and how much sadness there is, and what can be done?….

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Crock

Crock
Posted By: Carissa Wodehouse
The film Crock marks a TBA first for me, a first anus. I’ve seen a dancer pee on stage, an impromptu testicle shaving, and a penis stuffed behind fishnets (Fleshtone, darn you, that one is still stuck in my head), but the close up anus is a first. Later, when it ejected a ping pong ball, I was somehow not surprised.

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Talking on the Lawn

Labor Day Picnic
Posted By: Julie Hammond
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My too-cafinated heart was still racing when I pulled up to the lawn outside Washington Monroe High School, picnic basket in hand and lawn chair slung over my shoulder. The brief moment of panic (what am I doing showing up to a picnic by myself!) passed when I heard my name and was called over to a big blanket where friends and home grown rasperries reigned. I pulled the just-picked green bean & tomato salad from my basket and began passing bowls and filling plates. Spicy eggplant, baskets of cherry tomatoes, pasta with califlower, fresh pitas from the brick oven, Dave the pickle man, huge bowls of watermelon, and did we mention the slow food brownies. Oh, that TBA feeling.

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TBA’s Picnic in the Park

Planted! A Labor Day Picnic with Slow Food Portland
Monday, September 7th
12:30 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.
THE WORKS at Washington High School
By Eve Connell

Barely coming down off my It Might Get Loud high Monday afternoon, I arrived at the Slow Food Labor Day Picnic hungry and ready to appreciate the bounty promised me. The field was set up with pots of veggies and herbs holding smallish signs that quipped facts about the benefits of organics, stats on hunger, and the state of our crappy institutionalized food system. A fun touch.

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Some Rainy Day Magic – Mild Intro to an Explosion of Sound and Form

Sunday, September 6th
6:30 PDX Contemporary
Younger – Ethan Rose, Laura Gibson, Ryan Jeffery
10:30 PM The WORKS
C.L.U.E. Live – robbinschilds/Kinski
Some Rainy Day Magic – Mild Intro to an Explosion of Sound and Form
By Eve Connell

The coolest elements of Younger - the Rose, Gibson, Jeffery collaboration in sight and sound Sunday night in the PDX Contemporary window space – were not planned portions of the performance itself, but those more natural. Sun streaming through a light rain created a heavenly, golden effect that encapsulated the crowd gathered on the corner of NW Flanders and 9th. It was cozy. It was melancholy. It was the end of summer on that corner, and the music and film were just part of its subtle soundtrack.

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Crushed With Joy

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Locust Crushed
Crushed With Joy
To the sounds of a beat-box, locusts emerge and dance around on the ground before being crushed by a man’s unseeing boot. And then the dancers emerge, rising from the floor, hips swaying, shoulders and arms moving in rhythm, fast, strong, pulsating. So begins Crushed, by the Seattle modern dance group Locust.

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locust: It’s Fucking Awesome Being Green

locust: crushed: CaroleZoom
locust / crushed
Posted by Jim Withington
Just saw locust’s show and it left me that kind of joyous “HELL yeah!” feeling that I’ve been wanting during TBA this year. The festival has had heavy covered, maybe more than ever, this year (Meg Stuart; Young Jean Lee), and I’ve taken in confusion (Erased James Franco) and the downright eclectic (yesterday’s Melody Owens-curated short films). What I’ve been waiting for, in a venue other than late night WORKS shows, was the exhilaration of something like last year’s Superamas show, or the first year Nature Theater visited us. I’ve been looking for that unity of vision, fun, purpose, and ass-kicking energy.
Tonight, I got it.

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“We knew we weren’t going to change the world, but history required, shall we say, a certain petulance.” – Prof. Jules Schmeese

Crock: The Motion Picture
Posted by: Benjamin Adrian
Before seeing Crock, I wondered why it was in tba. It basically looked like maybe it would be interesting, but certainly not anything more than a relic of 1996 Portland Cable Access. At least the directors would be there to explain themselves, and perhaps the film would reveal what was going on in Portland before so many of us arrived into town. Neither happened, but we at least got some laughs out of it.

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Corpogeographies and Utopian Sites

C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience), robbinschilds
posted by: Jenevive Tatiana
robbinschilds + A.L. Steiner: C.L.U.E. : CaroleZoom

The movement language and collaborative dynamics that span the multiple iterations of the projects of robbinschilds are almost painterly in nature. The radical relationality of color is echoed in their volatile collaborative practices of video, performance and installation. The pigment of a painting–say a canvas by Dana Schutz or Amy Sillman–exists meaningfully through juxtapositions that cause the hue to recede, buzz, heat up, cool down or hum. The magenta in my hand will exist differently depending upon the exact the network of colors, intensities, scales and marks on the canvas. And of course the phenomenological and physical orientation of the viewer collaborates with this spectral symphony; from the more literal instances of color blindness and Synesthesia, to Proustian sense memories and unconscious associations, color is never static or obvious but always alive, contingent and opening out into possibility.

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