Meg Stuart and Philipp Gehrmacher jerk through strobe lights backwards

Meg Stuart and Philipp Gerhrmacher, Maybe Forever
Posted by: Daniel Manuszak
In the span of a relationship failing, two spines intertwine and move like jerks through strobe lights backwards. They relate the way insects dance. Phrases mimic each other as do movements, then at times they become completely disparate.
Buddhists say, “All life is suffering.” Would this decay of a relationship disjointed from the first juncture rephrase that as, “All life is struggle?” It sure appeared so.
I wonder if these two had chosen to depict a successful pairing, would the movements have been any different? All flowing lines and sweet caresses? I don’t think so. I think the movements would have been equally erratic. Sure, forces would have aligned more frequently, but, more often than not there would have been the same push and pull, the constantly re-defined exchange of energy and coercion of will that characterize all vital relationships in the making. The only difference is that nobody would have gotten lost backstage. And, the dancers would have ended up together.
Two

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I just want you to cleanup after yourself

On Sight Salon – National Park
Artist-in-Residence Fawn Krieger and Visual Art Program Director Kristan Kennedy
I just want you to cleanup after yourself
a Parent teaches a child
a Park Ranger reprimands a visitor
Americans ask it of our nation
The American sculptor Fawn Krieger huddles in a ball mimicking the shape of her own cave she sits next to, constantly switching her weight on one knee and the other. Kristan Kennedy asks how her sculpture installation at the Works, National Park, came together, what inspired it, what it means, and what’s next. Fawn’s elegant vocabulary choices and psychological insights betray her physical fidgety introvert. This artist is trained, scholarly, confident, and a well-deserved success. I think its safe to say that National Park might just be my favorite piece Kristan has brought here since On Sight began.
Fawn’s answers during the salon flooded me with way more insight and understanding than I was prepared to give the piece. Beforehand, I thought it was just cool because it was cool, simple as that, but now I’m trying to wrap my head around all of its complex aesthetic, anti-aesthetic, and emotional nooks and crannies and hiding spots.
Fawn explained that the conception of inspiration for the piece was in 2004, when she came across a set of photos of her family on a road trip across the states in 1984, when she was 9. The photos show her, her older brother and her parents, at the Grand Canyon, at Mt. St. Helens, at Yosemite. After some percolating of ideas and possibilities that included bringing people to National Parks for some kind of art event, Fawn ultimately reversed her thinking and decided to bring the National Park to TBA.
Before National Park, Fawn had an installation in New York called COMPANY. The piece existed as a simulacrum of a store inside a real store front. Ideas of American consumerism and consumer space, cultural tourism, etc. were influencing her when she was in the early stages of thinking about National Park, and a lot of that comes out in the original descriptions and explanations she wrote about the piece to be included in TBA collateral. But, then a funny thing happened. The more time she spent with her ideas, and as she began building and dealing with the actual site for the piece – a hollowed library in a high school in Portland – her focus moved away from some of those heady social-lefty anti-consumer facets, and more to the time of ones life when they are in high school, as they discover and must take responsibility for the maturing public citizen inside their adolescent self-centered selves.
Consumer exchanges were replaced by cultural and social exchanges we have with each other, and with ourselves, at a place like a National Park. Or more specifically, at a foam, felt and 2×4 recreation of a National Park in an art space, and all those reverent expectations that come with the loaded term “art space”. That last sentence evokes Baudrillard’s “hyper reality” which I vaguely remember from a Philosphy/Aesthetics class. The hyper reality is more real than the reality because it knows it’s fake….or something like that.

The Truth Is Out There

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Robert Boyd, 09.06.09
Posted by: Jim Radosta
It’s a good thing Robert Boyd isn’t a member of the Obama administration, or he’d probably be out of a job.
Conspiracy Theory–the interdisciplinary artist’s two-channel video installation on display through Oct. 24 at Pacific Northwest College of Art–dips its toes in the boiling subject of whether 9/11 was an inside job. The rapidly edited images, set incongruously to a vapid dance tune (Kylie Minogue’s “I Believe in You”), also address globalization, aliens and AIDS, but with the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks approaching Friday, Conspiracy Theory couldn’t be more topical.
In addition, White House “green-jobs czar” Van Jones resigned Saturday because of the uproar caused by a petition he signed five years ago calling for an investigation into whether government officials were involved in 9/11. If I may jump on my soapbox for a moment: After seeing President Obama wimp out on the “public option” and drag his feet on gay rights, I’m especially disappointed that one of his most promising appointees could have his career derailed by the huffing and puffing of windbags like Glenn Beck, the same Fox News host who called the president a “racist.” The petitioners, 911Truth.org, released this statement Friday: “What doesn’t make sense to us is that media outlets choose to impugn the character of the signatories rather than carry out your responsibility as watchdogs to call attention to the as yet unanswered questions raised in the 2004 statement…. We challenge you to finally…pursue their answers with the same vigor with which you pursue the signatories.”
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, this week Conspiracy Theory makes for particularly riveting “time-based art.”

Coincidence? I think not

Michelle Boulé (Miguel Gutierrez)
Posted by Tim DuRoche

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Separated at Birth:
Michelle Boulé, Cindy Sherman, Tilda Swinton. Coincidence?–hmmmm, only Miguel knows for sure. . .

Dancing in the Aisles

janetpantsvideo.jpgExplode Into Colors/Janet Pants/Chris Hackett-Eyes Hands Mouth

9-4-09 The Works

2009 Time-Based Art Festival, PICA

Photo by G. Wilson

All Rights Reserved, PICA

by Emily Katz
Friday night’s performance at The WORKS, introduced me to the music of a band who I embarrassingly should have seen before. My studio/shop mate, Heather Treadway, who plays rhythm in Explode Into Colors, also designed the colorful jersey jumpsuits and dresses for the performance. I was lucky to peek into her creative process while she and Jane (Janet Pants) collaborated on shape, color, and fabric choices.

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Quiet and Slow and Beautiful and Sad and True

Meg Stuart & Philipp Gehmacher
Maybe Forever
Posted by: Ariel Frager
I don’t know about you but when I have been in the throes of devastating loss, I haven’t been able to get up off the floor. I’m a crying on the bedroom floor person but I know others who take solace crying on the bathroom and even the kitchen floor. I have never, not until last night, witnessed someone else’s grief on the stage floor. In Meg Stuart and Philipp Gehmacher’s heartbreaking Maybe Forever, the opening dance chapter had the two creators slowly moving on the floor, standing upright seemed too difficult and when it happened, they quickly retreated back to the safety of the ground. The darkened space and quiet, deliberate movement reminded me of what I always think about when I think about loss: it is our deepest sorrows that make us who we are. This was a theme that threaded itself through Maybe Forever.
Stuart and Gehmacher invited us into their intimate little world, where when you pulled back the curtain you got to see what was really going on. Desperate and clinging, the dance pieces had the two of them gently bouncing off each other, as we all do when trying too hard to hold onto something too large. The spoken word chapters lent voices to what I could only empathetically feel during the dances, that this grief continued to cause heartbreak, over and over and over again. The live guitar and singing by Niko Harkenscheid added layers and texture to the dance and gave the performance as a whole a sweet, needed break from all the sorrow. Quiet and slow and beautiful and sad and true. Maybe Forever moved me, its subtleties continue to work their way through my consciousness and will maybe help pick me up the next time I am crying on my bedroom floor.

Liveblogging YOUNGER: Outside, looking in

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Ethan Rose, Laura Gibson, Ryan Jeffery / YOUNGER
Posted by Jim Withington
I feel almost as weird about being the dude in the back typing during a performance as you do about seeing me here, let’s get that straight up front. But it’s not typical that one can take in a performance at TBA and blog it as it’s happening*, so, shall we?
I spent the bulk of the afternoon at the Whitsell, watching a lot of post-something, arty films. I liked a lot of them, don’t get me wrong, and will hopefully post some highlights later. But right now I’m sitting outside PDX Contemporary Art watching YOUNGER, a collaboration between singer-songwriter Laura Gibson, lover of antiques-plus-technology musician Ethan Rose, and video artist Ryan Jeffery, and I have to give it up for live performance, yet again.

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the tiny dance series that could

Ten Tiny Dances
posted by: Laura Becker
photos by Kenneth Aaron, Wayne Bund and Carole Zoom
Ten Tiny Dances: Wayne Bund
I think TBA’s there-are-no-rules-mentality is starting to rub off on the festival’s annual and jovial nod to Placed-Based Art, Ten Tiny Dances. Mike Barber’s less-and-less conformed to rules of the game (no stepping off of the 4×4′ stage for more than 15 seconds, no further than one foot) went straight out those scary second story windows at the Works this year.

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Ways of the Hand: Maybe Forever

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Maybe Forever–Meg Stuart/Philipp Gehmacher
Posted by: Tim DuRoche
Words I am not afraid of when we think about dance: emotions, excess and narrative.”–Meg Stuart
The opening six minutes of murky, near blackness, lusciously paced with barely discernible movements/forms was the perfect welcome mat to Maybe Forever–Meg Stuart/Philipp Gehmacher‘s suffocatingly lyrical dance-theater work; a work that reaffirms that, yes indeed, breaking up is hard to do.
The evening-length duet is in many ways the perfect introduction to Meg Stuart’s uncompromising and rigorously poetic dance-making world. The piece is stunning and brutal, punctuated by Carveresque What-We-Talk-About-When-We-Talk-About-Lovisms (“remember when I said. . .I take it back) spoken by the performers and the spacious music of Belgian singer-songwriter Niko Hafkenscheid. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Stuart is drawn to emotion and narrative and with this piece has created a story ballet of sorts that is riveted with rupture and grants us a voyeuristic peak into love disintegrating before our eyes.
Stuart is interested in movement that “expresses and incorporates the missing, the failed communication,” dances that, are “constructed from impossible tasks, such as the will to compress time. . .to fully experience the pain of another, to embrace emptiness, to show all perspectives of a complex situation in a single gesture.” In Maybe Forever‘s case the language of gesture comes from the hands and silence. Stuart and collaborator Philipp Gehmacher’s syntax of hand/arm gestures are as varied and descriptive as Inuit words for snow: there is shrug, grief, offering, declarations of space, demarkations, help-me-please, impasse, fragility, shrinking to the fetal, “long arms,” and a desperate clinging–a constant looking to the hands for answers that aren’t there.
Have you ever woken up startled and not recognized your own hand? Maybe it’s asleep or you’re just tired and discombobulated–but you can’t remember how it works, what it does–you do, but in that moment it could be anything? This gets at what Stuart meant earlier in the day when she asked her workshop: “what stories do the hands tell?
Maybe Forever is a work that is discomforting in an unraveling way similar to Cassavetes’ Woman Under the Influence–while set on a vast, minimally appointed stage, it’s claustrophobically intimate. At one point, we hear a voice-over that says “I feel like I’m reading somebody else’s diary and I should be.” That comes close, but there’s a more unseemly feeling that we are bearing witness to something inevitable that is unnerving–hope/comfort only stave loss temporarily–even the emotive language on stage (like urgent, yet futile break-up sex) becomes too close for some.
A dash of Beckett’s Endgame (“…it’s time it ended…and yet I hesitate, I hesitate to…to end”) meets the acrid parts of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage. It’s discomforting because we recognize the storyline and because as dance, it’s startling to deal with such a devastating drawn-out arc–it’s like watching two dear friends go through a prolonged divorce, knowing there’s nothing you can do (and seeing in them that it could easily be you too).
And we’re left with, as Ann Lauterbach says in her poem Subject to Change, “a residual, if despondent, bearing.”
Maybe Forever works best when use of spoken language and gesture is elliptical and not didactic or pointed (in this case the second time Stuart talks to the audience she dilutes the potency of the earlier sections and it’s thuddish). Similarly when Hafkenscheid breaks the wall and talks to the audience it severs momentum. When most effective, Niko Hafkenscheid and his music play the Twelfth-Night-like role of a Feste, “the allowed fool. . .equally welcome above and below stairs.” Through the lens of his catchy sad-bastard tunes, he’s licensed to speak the truth and comment laconically on the people around him–and that works.
15 years ago my boss at the time (the wonderfully visionary curator John Killacky) asked me, “what’s with your generation? They’re so preoccupied with formalism, beauty and narrative.” Among the emerging artists in “my generation” at the time were people like Ronald K. Brown , John Moran, Matthew Barney, and a curious ex-pat named Meg Stuart.
The art-world of his generation was one where “Expectations, assumptions, memory, freedom had been tested and pried open. A new world of possibilities for dance, performance, art, had come into being,” (as Sally Banes once said of the dance/performance collective Grand Union).My answer was that after so much prying and rule breaking and willy-nilly freedom, It was up to my generation to put the hinges back on and reshuffle the deck. Reestablish vocabulary, engage fascination and charm (as opposed to alienation and transgression), rules of engagement and discover the various stratum of beauty (from the lyrical to the dense and the discomforting).
For Stuart, part of the fascination and reshuffling is an abiding interest in story. With Appetite (the last work I saw of hers, on which she collaborated with the artist Ann Hamilton and Bill Frisell), story manifested itself through ,”a haptic work in which the space and the body are considered as membranes, which peel, leak and moult. The space and the body mark and absorb each other. . .I wanted to experience what it would feel like to be absorbed by something or someone. It is the ultimate and most frightening form of physical contact.”
In Maybe Forever, it’s about the reverse feeling, because, yes, breaking up is hard to do, and while the song may be familiar, the despair isn’t any easier to swallow. As one critic noted of Stuart’s work, “This is not dance as we used to know it. It is cruder, less abstract and more directly metaphoric.”
Last year, Stuart said, “I like to create work in dialogue, and dance with others in a conceptual way. These meetings help you define yourself but also disrupt you. I enjoy the rupture, collaborating with others leads you to places you wouldn’t dare venture on your own.” In many ways Maybe Forever might be as much about the act and process of collaboration as it is “about” love and loss.

My State ‘Tis of Thee

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Pink Martini, 09.05.09
Posted by: Jim Radosta
As an Oregon native, I know firsthand how strongly our statewide pride manifests itself: correcting those who mispronounce “Ore-ee-gawn,” looking down our noses at umbrella users and generally feeling superior to our neighbors both north (pity the fool who dares compare Portland to Seattle) and south (former Gov. Tom McCall’s infamous message to Californicators: “Visit but don’t stay”).
So I was rather disappointed when Oregon’s 150th birthday came and went Feb. 14 with little fanfare. Where was the big public celebration? My father, who moved here from Brooklyn shortly after the state’s centennial in 1959, tells me that local men marked the occasion by growing beards as a nod to our pioneer forefathers. Today? Well, with all of the new blood flowing through the state, you’d have a hard time finding anyone who’s even visited the Capitol down in Salem.
Thankfully, hometown heroes Pink Martini came to the rescue with Oregon! Oregon! 2009: A Sesquicentennial Fable in IV Acts last night at the Oregon Zoo. (In true Oregon spirit, the audience was at full capacity despite the threat of a downpour.) Led by composer Thomas M. Lauderdale, the eclectic “little orchestra” joined Oregon’s 234th Army Band and a handful of special guests (former Gov. Barbara Roberts, Oregonian columnist Margie Boulé) to revive Stan Freberg’s 1959 musical comedy along with an all-new fourth act.
The story is fun but absurd: The chief dilemma revolves around a witch who threatens to bottle up Oregon if a soon-to-be-married couple can’t figure out her name within 24 hours. You’d likely find more depth in an episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
A few of the 1959 references are quaintly anachronistic (Brigette Bardot, Harvey the Rabbit), but then again, I imagine that if someone unearths this again for Oregon’s bicentennial in 2059, they’ll surely laugh at the fourth act’s “dated” concerns with gasoline consumption and overpriced lattes.
Regardless, the new material strengthened Oregon! Oregon! by focusing on what actually makes our state unique: a diverse population that combines the rugged individualism of the South with the liberal intellectualism of the East Coast. As the chorus sang in the finale: “It was built by timber luggers…protected by tree huggers. Oregon’s for everyone!”
In short, Oregon! Oregon! reminded me why I’m proud to live in the Beaver State. Rain or shine.
Lauderdale summed it up best when he told me in a 2007 interview: “Historically, the people who came to Oregon came west not to become rich, because those people really went to California during the Gold Rush. The people who came to Oregon…wanted to find a better life which was compatible and respectful of the land. There’s that old joke about the fork in the road, and the people who could read the sign at the fork went north to Oregon.”

Allowing and Doing: Meg Stuart Workshop

Meg Stuart Workshop
Meg Stuart: Improvisation as Strategy
posted by Tim DuRoche
Saturday morning, Conduit hosted a workshop with Ms. Stuart that explored “Improvisation as Strategy,” attended by 33 folks of different dance ilks. Stuart began the workshop talking about developing material through improvisation (“seeds” for pulling up energy through the body). Mentioning the body as a (no pun intended I’m sure) “conduit for energy”–she echoed some of what I once heard Katherine Dunham talk about in regard to the dancer as a vessel and conductor of vibrations (something Madame D credited Kandinsky for). After some standard loosening-the-limbs warm-up, Stuart admonished to “bring it to a simmer”–an apt description for what followed.
For most of the next two hours, Stuart focused on the difference between DOING and ALLOWING, encouraging participants to “yield to sensation” (“This movement here is a memory. . .a trace”) to “focus on the story” (“what is the dialogue between your hands?”). “Who’s the agent of the movement,” she rhetorically asks.
Stuart once told an interviewer, “In dance, sometimes people are just sort of chatty. . .They’re using their bodies beautifully, but I don’t understand their drive–why they’re moving. For me the why, even though it may not always be clear to the audience, is very important.
“It’s not what you do,” she told the class, “but why. . .listen to your body’s memory–if it needs to bend, bend.”
Exploring micro-levels of movement (from the eyes–”allow them to blur, to sharpen, allow your vision to change”–to the toes, to legs–”make a drama with your legs, an opera, let them chase each other”), Stuart deployed a conceptual approach that was metaphorically closer to painting/visual abstraction and free improvisation/music.
The choreographer talked about scale and surface, tones and textures and expanded upon the given (in this case–the dancer’s body) and its “I do this/I go there” capacity, offering (to borrow from avant-garde music) extended techniques as strategies to bring the dance out of your body or (in the case of Maybe Forever) tuck it back in.
“The dance is already there on your body,” Stuart said.
The transformation was fascinating. At the top of the class, the corporeal shape of the room resembled a tai chi studio–intentional, glacially-paced unison development. As they began to find their own tension between doing, allowing, internal and external energy–not waiting for instruction but finding their singular pulse–the morphology of the room evolved from vertical vessels of breath and polite gesture to nearly-botanical forms, weaving like aquatic plants to their rhythm.
At one of my favorite points, Stuart et al were investigating small, lower-cased gestures of the hand. She asked the workshop participants to, “Make a Dance With your Hand.” this Fluxus-like instruction (reminiscent of a Yoko Ono or George Brecht score ), while simple on the surface, also unseats our expectations of what constructs or gets to be called a dance or story.
The crux of much of the workshop came back to intention and building awareness of body’s memory–”the individual voices and stories inside the body”–understanding that “sensing is as important as expressing.” What this afforded was dancers discovering how to unmoor themselves from their training, transcend their dancer-ness and embrace an unselfconscious sense of free play and the “unpredictable pathways” available to them. For anyone who saw Maybe Forever, you know also that in a vast palette of micro-gestures and emotions, one of Stuart’s staples is the choice to make stillness, silence or stasis a powerful and viable part of vocabulary–which while unnerving, is a subtle, emotional and sensual device for someone trafficking in movement and kinetic performance.
Towards the end of the workshop, Stuart had dancers circle off and explore sequence/flow and what might best be described as a movement-based, non-Cartesian cause-and-effect Exquisite Corpse –with dancers entering the middle, parsing the ambiguity of shared space, relationship and creating fascinating primitive counterpoint, varieties of unisons, flockings, and scrum. It was a great underscoring of the improvisational aspect of public conversation and group dynamics.
On the unison-tip, Stuart ended the session with breathing that “allowed” itself into an extended bout of sustained laughter–with whole body’s laughing–an apt reminder that dance, like laughter, can be one of the great arbiters of collective joy.

Import more of this

Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company “The Shipment”
Posted by: Camela Raymond
To anyone consulting this blog for advice about what to see: Run, don’t walk, to see The Shipment (last chance is tonight). In less capable hands, the concept could have been disastrous–a Korean-American playwright writing a play about African-American identity. But Young Jean Lee created a work that’s at once highly intelligent, wickedly funny, deeply provocative, gorgeously crafted, and intellectually and emotionally profound. The performances are also superb. Rarely is theater of this quality seen in Portland. (Maybe I’ll write more later, but the point of this post is just to say ‘See it!’)

Felt Like Forever

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods & Phillip Gehmacher/Mumbling Fish “Maybe Forever”
Posted by: Camela Raymond
Meg Stuart and Phillip Gehmacher are powerful and evocative movement artists, but unfortunately what they evoked for me was the experience of being cornered at a party by a drunk person puling about his/her bad breakup. I started getting that nervous trapped feeling around the time Stuart started delivering her first lines, a litany of recantations to her lost lover starting with, “Remember when I wrote on that postcard I wish you were here? I take it back!!!” Puling is bad enough, but phony puling?

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Celluloid Sparks

Miguel Gutierrez & The Powerful People Last Meadow
Posted by: Seth Nehil
The script is a controlling device. The storyboard commands. The director is an egomaniac. The movie camera captures bodies within its lens, contains them – flattens them onto celluloid. Method acting infects actors like a germ, changing gestures, changing voices. Sometimes the role carries actors into a dark hole – they lose their edges, become the character, drive a car into a tree. There is a compulsion behind the machine of Hollywood, driving its makers into standard narratives, driving audiences into admiration and emulation. A nightmare of falseness. We forget that we are immersed in artificiality. Miguel Gutierrez wants to use the cinematic nightmare as an alarm clock.

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Wounded Hearts

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods Maybe Forever
Posted by: Seth Nehil
A clear emotional narrative flows under its abstract surface. Letters are written to a distant reader. Words are addressed to an absent listener. We are witnessing an emptiness which is the hole that is left behind.
In Stuart’s vocabulary, dance movement crystallizes out of everyday movement. Standing, walking, looking, holding. Not just everyday movement as dance movement, but dance as everyday movement. We are asked to become committed to committed movement, slight gestures, silence, half-sentences.

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Phone Home

Kalup Linzy, Churen Trading Mess: Conversations Wit De Churen Episodes I – VII
09/05/09 6:30 p.m.
posted by: Allison Halter
On the Telephone in Conversations Wit De Churen
Kalup Linzy’s Conversations Wit De Churen is populated with a wide variety of archetypal characters: successful businesswoman who has distanced herself from her family, struggling artist, disapproving mother, frail but fiercely protective grandmother, conditionally accepted gay son, but the thread that draws them all together is the telephone. Characters spend entire episodes on the phone, the implied telephone line (though only one phone actually still has a cord; most are cordless, and finally, in the latest episodes, cellular) becomes the space in which much of the drama plays out. Conversations stack up, interrupt each other with “Hold on, I gotta beep,” and ricochet from one character to another.

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“You say that you need my love…”

Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People, Last Meadow
09/04/09 6:30 p.m.
posted by: Allison Halter
I suppose I am jumping in a little late in the game here – there have already been so many entries about this specific piece – so I will just give my impressions and ask a few questions that I feel Last Meadow raised.
I will admit to describing this piece to friends as “kind of like my modern dance nightmare,” and the experience of watching it (at some points) as “a rave cave, like being in a k-hole, or a live version of a filmed bad drug trip scene.” The language in Last Meadow was often distorted or layered, so much so as to be unintelligible. I kept waiting for it to resolve into something.

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It Only Looks Like It’s about Cross Dressing

Kalup Linzy, Conversations Wit De Churen Episodes I – VII, Northwest Film Center
By Jens Larson
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The episodic films in Kalup Linzy‘s Conversations Wit De Churen were created over six years, and the seventh episode was specially commissioned by PICA for TBA and made with technical support from LAIKA/house, the commercial arm of Phil Knight’s Portland-based animation company. Watching several of the the episodes back to back (a rare treat; Linzy’s works are often shone singly and usually in museum halls) allows viewers to witness the expansion of Linzy’s style as his works become technically savvy and more self-referential. While the principal concerns of the episodes are language and communication, Linzy touches on numerous motifs: psycho-sexuality, gender, class, race, family relationships, interpersonal drama, and the role of art in storytelling.

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“When your minds click – it’s like an orgasm.”

Working Together
Noontime Chat: A.L. Steiner, Sonya Robbins, Layla Childs, and AJ Blanford talk about C.L.U.E.
09/05/09 12:30 p.m.
posted by: Allison Halter
“What is so important about a singular vision?”
Although it wasn’t the first question asked in this discussion, it certainly felt like one of the most important. Posed by Cathy Edwards in response to her own description of the works of this year’s TBA festival as being precisely that (works of a singular vision), the question reverberated throughout the Commons of PNCA, an institution which is itself constantly reaffirming the myth of “solo artistic genius.” Steiner, who in her introduction stated that she collaborates as often as possible, retorted that she finds the idea of the heroic genius artist both offensively patriarchal, and practically unrealistic. Hearing this stance iterated so unflinchingly, from a group of women whose love, respect and admiration for each other was palpable, even filtered through the often awkward experience of a panel discussion, quite frankly made my heart soar. They traded microphones and finished each others’ sentences. Talked about being inspired by each other, and how that desire to hang out and make things together was really the genesis of the collaboration.

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Crock of… what?

Luke Cage and Prescott Sheng, Crock: The Motion Picture
09/05/09 4:30 p.m.
posted by: Allison Halter
We all know that Portland is a small city. It is the reason that so many of us choose to live here. As a relative newcomer to this place, I am interested in the mythology that surrounds Portland, particularly what makes this city any sort of “go-to” destination. I had hoped that Crock would give me some answers, or at the very least some context clues. It is described, after all, as being the brainchild of and starring “artists and musicians from Portland’s 90s indie scene.” Perhaps this is a bit much to expect, but what better way to understand a city than through the art it produces?

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Lost in Miguel Gutierrez’s Meadow

Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People’s Last Meadow was a piece that I found mostly lacking in coherence and accessibility. It didn’t resonate with me on any level. As I rode home on my bike, feeling exasperated, dissatisfied and empty, questions filled my head: was it a dance? Or performance art? Or something else? And what, if anything, was it trying to communicate?

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Dogs Barking, Moths Fluttering, Light Rain Falling

Hitoshi Toyoda, NAZUNA
Posted By: Julie Hammond
Part way through the first half of Hitoshi Toyoda’s 90 minute silent slideshow NAZUNA I started to believe that this artist was capable of controlling much more than a camera shutter. A photo of dogs shines on the huge screen set up outside The Works; neighborhood dogs start barking immediately. A gentle laugh rises from the otherwise silent crowd. The slides change to show mountains, snow covered buildings, monks meditating. Then, another photo of a dog. The dog barks begin again. By the time we see a slide of a moth in the second half of the performance I am well prepared for the live moth to fly into the light of the projector. It does and another perfect moment comes and goes.

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Maybe Forever – Or, I Wanted to Give You So Much More

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods & Philipp Gehmacher/Mumbling Fish
Maybe Forever
Friday, September 4th 8:30 PM Newmark Theatre
By Eve Connell
Rainy Saturday afternoon, and I can’t shake the dregs of Meg Stuart’s melancholy study in mood and movement from last night’s performance at the Newmark. Depressing, perhaps. Rough, a little. Peripatetic, yes. Reminiscent of time-lapse photography or a film played backwards. Insect-like hand gestures. Alien arm movements. Blank expressions.

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When actors start taking off their clothes on stage, America…

Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People/LAST MEADOW
Posted by Daniel Manuszak
When actors start taking off their clothes on stage, I always wonder if they are going to go all the way. In the next minute or so as they run around the stage doffing shirts, wigs, red and blue socks amidst sweat breathing leaps to flutter lights and techno beats… will they drop their white vestigial tights – the final tethers of societies’ mask making feathers?
But, I’m taking you straight to the climax… and we haven’t even wandered through the planetarium, bow-legedly mimed riding a horse, accused our parents of Doublespeak or even leaned back on our slick hair and cocked the crook leg of our Deanness. I have to admit that the only James Dean movie I’ve ever seen is “Rebel Without a Cause” (a shortcoming I plan to remedy by watching “Giant” tonight.) However, I know what a foot to the throat means. And, I understand the antagonizing chaos muddled amuck with movie script lines delivered from the depths of a Bill Hicks’ throat-mic satan. These and other mechanisms employed by Miguel Guitierrez and the Powerful People accentuate the fact that I know enough about James Dean, America, Orwell, confusion and the silence of transparency to understand that we all want to do something meaningful. We all want to be good at that which we do. We all want to get laid. We would all love to be able to sing our national anthem beautifully, with pride. And, on some level, we all want to get naked!

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Fallow Fields Bear Fruit: MGPP’s LAST MEADOW

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Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People/LAST MEADOW
Posted by: Benjamin Ford Asriel
Know this: I’m biased. When I first encountered Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People, I was a college student and a comparative troglodyte. Seeing MGPP popped my dance-cherry and redefined my conception of art-making. Awash with post-performance awe and emotion, I wrote Miguel a love letter telling him that MGPP was vital and must continue. Tonight–6 years since my first Powerful performance–I watched the world premiere of Gutierrez’s LAST MEADOW, and I say it again: MGPP, your work is vital and I am honored to see it.

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The Secret to Race: There’s No Catharsis

Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company: The Shipment (Gerding Theater)
By Jens Larson
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The reviews from Young Jean Lee‘s four-week run of The Shipment in New York were almost uniformly positive, and for good reason. Performed in three vignettes, the play’s script is splendidly humorous as well as bitingly caustic, and the performers move expertly and effortlessly through dance, song and several genres of drama.

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Whirl-twirling, ears ringing, reverb singing

Explode Into Colors/Janet Pants/Chris Hackett-Eyes Hands Mouth
Explode Into Colors, Janet Pants, & Chris Hackett (Los Moustachios), EYES HANDS MOUTH
Posted by: Jim Withington
Explode into Colors (and crew) played an evening set full of video art, short story vignettes, and endurance-flaunting solo dance tonight, but what stood out (as one might imagine) was the music, a kind of rock-band-by-way-of-Philip-Glass-with-Grace-Slick-druggyness-and-Portland-scrappiness joyous beat down. It felt tribal and celebratory and dammit, I wished this show had a basement show, not a sit down, cavernous public school auditorium prformance. Their music deserved dancing and danger and I’d imagine even a bit of bumping and grinding, a presentation fit for active participation, not just spectating.

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Miguel Gutierrez and the Performance Art Oppression

I like performance art as much as the next girl. Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People’s Last Meadow features all the mainstays of performance art. Overwhelming industrial soundscape, wigs, cross dressing, simulated masturbation, simulated intercourse, repetition, witty monologues, innovative dance/movement. I should have loved it. I should have thought it was brilliant. I didn’t. I felt oppressed and wanted to escape. I was ready to leave after 20 minutes. I wasn’t released until 70 more minutes of wacky Brooklyn over the top I-want-to-be-arty-ness.

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Smokin’ in the Boys Room

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On Sight Opening at The Works, 09.03.09
Posted by: Jim Radosta
Photo by: Kenneth Aaron
While most kids are dreading going back to school next week, contemporary art lovers jumped at the opportunity during TBA’s opening celebration last night.
The Works, the festival’s rotating venue for late-night debauchery, takes place this year at Washington High School, a centrally located but regrettably abandoned space with an uncertain future: Should our cash-strapped city sell the prime real estate to condo developers, or will Buckman neighbors turn the school into a community center? The debate will surely heat up as hundreds of Portlanders pass through these halls for the next 10 days. (Many of the exhibits will remain on display through Oct. 18.)
This year’s art installations range from disturbing drug trips (Brody Condon’s Without Sun) to interactive sculptures (Jesse Hayward’s Forever Now and Then Again) as well as technical innovation in video (Antoine Catala’s TV) and audio (Johanna Ketola’s The Walls of My Hall). The auditorium entertainment will include the short-attention-span smorgasbord of Ten Tiny Dances as well as avant-garde tributes to mainstream artists like Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. Yesterday there was even some impromptu artistic expression going on outside, where a man named Jarrett Mitchell distributed fliers protesting NASA’s lunar bombing scheduled for Oct. 9.
But the true standout of The Works is the school itself. Accompanied by my friend Angela, whose father attended Washington in the 1960s, I marveled at this life-sized time capsule. One locker, preserved behind Plexiglas, was stacked with books and videotapes circa 1995. A display case was filled with warm messages from children welcoming victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As an impatient crowd waited for the late entrance of electro-tribal band Gang Gang Dance, I noticed paper airplanes flying through the auditorium. It was as though the mischievous energy of former students had taken over.
Upon entering The Works, I ran into City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees Portland Parks & Recreation, the agency that will decide the school’s fate. He eagerly requested feedback on what should become of the space. I suggested, at the very least, a compromise where the building could be saved and some of the adjacent property could be sold. To share your thoughts with Fish, click here.

Cathy Edwards Wants to Get in Your Head

TBA in a Nutshell
Noontime Chat – TBA in a Nutshell
posted by laura becker
Last year, on the eve of his departure, Mark Russell gave a passionate, sincere, charmingly rambling postlude to his three years as director of the festival. The PICA staff were almost all in tears, preparing to let him go. In that farewell soliloquy, he provided a literal context to describe his touchy-feely performance preferences. Working with Kristan and Erin to bring artists like Superamas, Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, Charlotte Vanden Eynde & Kurt Vandendriessche, as well as many other daringly physical presences, Mark’s compassionate choices spoke to our heart, but definitely seemed, more than anything else, of the flesh. It’s no coincidence that it was under Mark’s watch that PICA coined the phrase “TBA is a festival that takes its shirt off”.

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no such place

ON SIGHT Opening
posted by: laura becker
My anticipation for TBA, building up over the past couple weeks of arranging schedules and re-reading the catalogue, turned into an all out fever by last night as I putzed around my kitchen waiting until it was officially time for timebasedart.
A lot of that surge came yesterday afternoon while reading the tete-a-tete dialogue of our local art critics, bouncing across the web pages of the Oregonian, this blog, and the Portland Mercury. Allison Hallet’s piece, especially, keenly explains the reasoning why TBA can’t be taken for granted. Maybe it was her piece, or maybe it was thinking ahead to the Labor Day slow food picnic on the grounds of this year’s masterpiece of a Works, but all I could think about was TBA as a great big satisfying salad, with delicious organic ingredients picked from all around the world, tossed together to get creative juices of their combined bounty flowing together, mingling tastes, and marinating in inspiration. The fact that we’re lucky enough to live in the bowl that salad is served in, for me, is what’s worth taking less and less for granted every year.
Trying as hard as I could to be fashionably late, I waited a whole fifteen minutes before I couldn’t stand it any more and arrived at the wonder that is Washington HIgh School. The site, a preserved time capsule of things reminiscent of everyone’s childhood in some way, looks like a Michel Gondry film set. Walking into dark classrooms re-appropriated for video installations is eerily familiar to dreams involving long school hallways becoming mazes and lights being out that in real life should always be on.
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Freudian divergences aside, this year’s WORKS is PICA’s most successful stab yet at incorporating the visual portion into the rest of TBA. The performance space is literally surrounded on two floors by show and tell art pieces and exhibits that one might find in the children’s exploring room of a local museum. The all ages appeal reverted all of us into giggling children as we re-arranged colorful boxes, spying on drug induced laughing fits, creating lifesize jenga towers and climbing over foam lava beds, gazing at still life trick-or-treaters, listening to stripped bare music boxes have conversations with each other, finding rabbit hole after rabbit hole of fun, play and smiles.
No Such Place, Kristan Kennedy’s title for this year’s On Sight, refers to many ideas she eloquently describes and you can read on the wall when you enter the halls, but it also may refer to the childhood we all remember, forever long for, but maybe only ever had in our trippy, arts and crafts induced dreams.

Somebody stole the drumsticks

Gang Gang Dance, opening night performance at the Works
By Jens Larson
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With more than seventy-five fans dancing on stage during the encore, the band is lucky they only lost the drumsticks. Some of the burlier fans could have lumbered off with the amps and drum kits. Some may have even tried to carry off Lizzie Bougatsos (lead singer and drummer), but in the end the fans left her on stage and settled for hugs and handshakes.

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Whither the Critic

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Tim DuRoche pens a response to DK Row’s commentary in the Oregonian this morning.
Did you read this morning’s Oregonian and the disingenuous commentary by David Row, “Whither the Time-Based Art Festival?” Behind the not entirely insincere wish that it reach more people, Row betrays a sense that it’s really not his cup of tea anyway, and I have to say I was deeply disappointed by his lack of vision, failure to provide a better context, and his overall dismissive tone.
Kind of begs a question or two–like, what is the responsibility of the critic in providing context and supporting the efficacy of new work/new vision? If he’s not in step with divergent trends in the visual and performing arts and engages I-don’t-know-much-about-art-but-I-know-what-I-like-but-sigh-I’m-just-a-fan/critic, then what’s a body to do? Slamming TBA because it attracts fewer people than ” one sold out Trail Blazers game…[and] far from the 75,000 people who course through the Art in the Pearl festival over Labor Day weekend,” does more harm than it does good. . .this is a poor argument all the way around. It borders on ad hominem anti-intellectualism and has a whiff of cracker-barrel populism to it.
Elsewhere Row says, “a festival produced by and directed solely at a small community of artists only intensifies the public perception that art and performance are inscrutable expressions full of $10 allusions and impenetrable ideas.” A festival like this takes ideas, possibility, a uniquely frontier-minded, Portland, pioneer aesthetic and creates a city-wide geography of opportunity for asking some questions about who we, what we believe and how we come together to experience place and story. Row seems to think Portlanders aren’t up to difficult ideas or new forms of art (or is merely masking that he doesn’t get it)–but nothing could be further from the truth.
The tradition of boundary-stretching art in Portland goes back at least as far as Anna Belle Crocker‘s exhibiting of Duchamp’s shockingly new Nude Descending a Staircase at the Portland Art Museum in 1914. It’s about allowing for questions and inviting the conversation about how art and experience abut life and expectation and blur whatever tiny line might separate the two at this point.
Row writes, “But as the festival revs up for its seventh run, it’s worthwhile, even necessary, to also examine this question: What does it add up to for the public?. . .let’s think about what they represent in the civic realm. This is a festival that’s about giving artists and performers the widest latitude no matter what, even if that excludes a wider audience.”
One of the TBA Festival’s great mutable properties is the public collage effect live art embraces-think of last year’s City Dance in the Halprin fountains, Eiko and Koma at Jamison Square, David Eckard’s Float on the Willamette River, John King’s guitar-apalooza, dozens of PDX guitarists or Rinde Eckert with a 100 local singers in Pioneer Courthouse Square. Events like these underscore the improvisational nature of living in a city. they also go along way to cure us of our reverence for “silence in the face of art.” These kind of events are powerful. They allow us to create together and recycle, renew social capital. Most of all, their town-squareness removes the double-coding that many kinds of art love-the surface appeal of populism wrapped up in winking snark, art/design so often created for the effete edges and creases, despite the illusion of embracing social practice and community-and allows some common humanity to emerge.
Events of this scale and public-ness are essential to Portland ‘s identity (and part of what makes this such a magical realist city at times)-the drawing of otherwise out-of-reach aesthetics away from the margins amplifies our experience of the center in some singular way-out ways. Think of it as art transmuted into civically valuable disposition (shared values like openness, cooperation and community, tolerance, and respect).
This year that social dimension comes in the form of a question from Back to Back Theater, who explore prejudices associated with the notion of “other:” how is respect withheld from outsiders? The ensemble (six actors with developmental or learning disabilities) ably construct a remarkable narrative that “unfolds amid pedestrian traffic against the shifting backdrop of a city. While their very process is one that Row would seem to dismiss for”rigorously disobey[ing] traditional narrative structure and notions of beauty,” the result is an audience immersed in an intensely compassionate, deeply human experience that manages to navigate art/life and invite a new level of awareness and empathy for our fellow citizens.
Elsewhere, David writes, “as one important local art dealer who travels frequently around the country to see art and performance nailed it: ‘If I don’t go to the festival, then why would the average person go?’ Answer: Because the average person is still interested in something new and maintains a sense of joy and discovery. You are not the anointer here. This is about a democratization, art as a community property. We all get to decide what is good, bad, ugly and beautiful.. .and that’s half the fun every year–it’s about the conversation that ensues from the ka-pow of new work that metaphorically causes, in the words of Henry Adams, our “historical neck [to be] broken by the sudden irruption of forces totally new.”
I can tell you that after seven years of going to this festival as an artist, critic, fan, and cultural citizen, I’m continually impressed with the appetite and curiosity of audiences (who go far beyond the boutique “community of artists” that David Row asserts). What we want are a diversity of offerings in this city. Simply we want to see mid-size and small festivals (like this or a micro-festival like Hand2Mouth’s Risk/Reward that by all measures of artistic excellence, audience and aesthetic diversity fit the bill of a success) flourish.
Public good does not need to be synonymous with populism or common-denominators. Does it make people happy? Does it convene conversation? Does it create an opportunity for Portland to talk to the rest of the country and the world about what it means to engage in an expressive life? If we continue to measure success by the numbers alone and don’t being to look at the intrinsic values that art traffics in, we do nothing to further the mission of Portland as a creative city. And our critics have some complicity in that conversation.
–Tim DuRoche

ON SIGHT: Stephen Slappe – We Are Legion

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
Stephen Slappe creates a never-ending army of costumed youth in a web project that mines your photo albums for evidence of what the artist calls “contemporary cultural indoctrination.” Collecting images of you and yours in Halloween garb, Slappe will string these images together into a scrolling defense line of masked society. Slappe’s work blends humor, absurdity, and anxiety in order to reflect upon notions of home, transience, and physical and psychological escape.
KK: The photos you are collecting for your scrolling army We Are Legion are being edited in small ways. Can you talk about the removal of information and how that changes the context of these images?
SS: By removing all extraneous contextual information in the photos, We Are Legion creates a virtual space where all of the images are equal and more or less outside of their original time. Including depictions of a 1970s living room or a 1950s front porch would pull the individuals apart when my intent is to unify them in order to reveal commonalities and trends.
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Figure XIV: Stephen Slappe’s We Are Legion.

KK: You have mentioned to me that halloween costumes act as cultural literacy. What do you mean?

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ON SIGHT: Ethan Rose – Movements

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
Movements, Portland-based artist Ethan Rose’s latest sound installation, consists of over one hundred altered music boxes, carefully timed and methodically displayed across the gallery walls. The tinkering creates a sensation of a shifting texture, housed in a visually stimulating acoustic environment. Rose uniquely blends electronic devices with instruments of the past, including player pianos and carillons, creating sounds and compositions of new sonic possibility, rather than musical preservation. Antiquated acoustic instruments remain a consistent element to Rose’s work, with the 1924 Wurlitzer organ housed at the Oaks Park Roller Rink providing the music for his most recent album, Oaks, released in January.
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Figure XIII: A detail of Rose’s Movements photo: Eric Fisher.

KK: It seems since the player piano piece and your performance earlier this year at Oaks Park on the Wurlitzer that your interest in antiquated instruments is becoming more visual. Not only are you using them in recordings, but, now their physicality, fragility and “objectness” are exposed. What led you from composing, recording and performing to installation work?
ER: I was originally drawn towards these instruments not only for their sounds, but also because of their visual and tactile presence. On the initial recordings that I made I was interested in sonically capturing this sense of physicality. Because the pieces are built not only from the pitched tones of the instruments but also from their mechanical sounds, there is a textured quality that results within the finished compositions. After composing these pieces in the studio I began to feel that I could create work that would more directly expose the processes and ideas that I had developed. By placing the mechanism before the viewer I hope to engage them with the work in a more visceral and direct way, effectively describing the interaction that has evolved between myself and the instrument.

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Some questions for Miguel Gutierrez about Last Meadow, collaboration and Portland’s clean air

For TBA:09, PICA asked our friends in the arts community to sit down with this year’s festival artists and talk about their work. Writer, artist, and community cultural advocate Tim DuRoche caught up with dancer and choreographer Miguel Gutierrez to ask him some questions about his opening weekend premiere of Last Meadow.
miguel gutierrez last meadow
Tim DuRoche: Cathy Edwards mentioned a comment from you recently about, “simultaneously comprehending the banality of living in an everyday body, and nonetheless continually desiring to be transcendent within that same body.” How much does that underlie this work? Does that notion become more meta (say to consider the banality of the American Dream, as the everyday body) in Last Meadow?
Miguel Gutierrez: I think that this idea, this perception of a torturous duality, runs through all of my work. It’s woven directly into my interest in dance in the first place. Dance is a space where I get to encounter the depth of my belief and doubt in everything. Its combination of strangeness, humility and sincerity is both alluring and frustrating. It will never do everything I want it to do, but then, neither will anything or anyone.
I think I’m still in the process of understanding what the relationship of this idea is to Last Meadow. I think I generally feel less desperate than I used to in relationship to my body, to what I want it or dancing to do. I sort of feel like my body is just this trigger or antenna for a ton of other shit that has nothing to do with what I’m “doing.”
This piece has to do with myths for me – the myth of the father/country/hero, etc. Myths are, by their very nature, static fictions that we construct to organize an otherwise unsustainable, infuriatingly dynamic reality. I don’t know if we’ve hit that for sure or not in this piece, but it’s something I’m very interested in.

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Raimund Hoghe speaks with White Bird’s Walter Jaffe

For TBA:09, PICA asked our friends in the arts community to sit down with this year’s festival artists and talk about their work. Walter Jaffe, Co-Founder of White Bird Dance, had the chance to ask Raimund Hoghe about his piece, Bolero Variations, and his approach to dance.
Raimund Hoghe Bolero Variations
Walter Jaffe: I have seen several versions of Ravel’s Bolero performed by different dance companies (Bejart and Ballet Biarritz, for example), as well as by the ice skaters Torvill and Dean’s famous version, which won them the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. You have said that it was Torvill and Dean who inspired you to create Bolero Variations in 2007.
Why Torvill and Dean? Were you familiar with other dance versions of Ravel’s “Bolero?” What was it about Torvill and Dean’s version that led you to create your work?
Raimund Hoghe: Since my childhood I like very much to watch ice skating on TV. And when I started to work on Boléro Variations I remembered the legendary “Boléro” version from Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, and I took this as one of the starting points of the piece. In the 80′s, Trovill/Dean, made a kind of revolution for the dance on ice and if you watch the video today you have to say it’s still a very strong performance. And they are beautiful dancers – as well as the Russian ice skater Evgeni Plushenko. He did also a wonderful “Boléro” version on ice and I adore him. For me he is one of the greatest dancers, and when we did our rehearsals I showed the dancers the two very different “Boléro” interpretations on ice – and they liked it a lot. Of course we all knew the “Boléro” from Béjart and we watched several times his version with the phantastic Russian dancer Maya Plisetzkaya. I have shown this materials to the dancers as an inspiration. I’m never interested in copies but I think it’s important to remember quality and a special level. We should to be aware of some great pieces of art from the past.
WJ: I’m fascinated with your creative process. I know that you were a writer for the German weekly “Die Zeit” and served as a dramaturge for Pina Bausch from 1980-1990. Since 1989 you have created your own theater/dance pieces. You clearly inhabit worlds beyond strictly dance–literary and theatrical worlds as well.
What were the steps in creating Bolero Variations? Did you envision it originally as a large work or did it develop over time?
RH: From the begin it was clear that it would be a group piece. With three of the dancers I’ve worked already before and I wanted to continue the collaboration with them – Ornella, Lorenzo and Emmanuel. But it was also important to integrate new dancers in the group and it’s wonderful for me to see that they get along together very well.
WJ: How did you work with your performers, 5 men plus 1 woman (including yourself)?
RH: In a way it’s very simple: I play some music and I watch the dancers. The important point is that they can connect them self with the music – and if they can’t I have to find another music.
WJ: Were you the choreographer, creating the “steps” for your company or was it more of a collaborative process with your artists? Or do you see yourself as a director and conceptualist, bringing together different themes and performance styles into a single work?
RH: Only very few times I make proposals for a movement. I’m interested in the different movements of each dancer and how they react on a piece of music. As Maria Callas said: “If you really listen to the music – the music will tell you how to move”. This is also my experience and my work is to create an atmosphere in which the dancers can listen to the music and to look inside. There is no pressure and no judgement in the first step- I just watch the dancers and film every rehearsal. Later I watch the material again and select some movements.
WJ: How did you select the music, which encompasses different versions of Ravel’s Bolero as well as other bolero music, classical and popular?
RH: I’m very interested in different versions of a piece of music – for example Ravel’s “Boléro”. In the performance we have a piano version, a version on traditional Japanese instruments, another from Benny Goodman and at the end also a version with a classical orchestra. I discovered all the different version during the rehearsals – and I found much more than I can play in the performance. This research is always very exciting for me and I love to discover many things during this process – for example that you can find boléros also in “Swan Lake” and in Tchaikovsky’s work. And not to forget the South American boléros – one is sung by Doris Day “Be mine tonight” (“Noche de Ronda”).
WJ: Gestures play a central role in Bolero Variations, especially hand and arm movements. In fact, the work really calls attention to the small movements of the human body, not just the legs and feet, but the entire body. Do you agree? Can you discuss the role and significance of human gesture in your work?
RH: When I started to create the first solo for myself, Meinwärts (1994), I was watching many videos from singers and how they move – for example Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel, and I was very impressed how they moved there arms and hands. Years later I also looked to Maria Callas, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland and other great singers and I discovered that the great singers are also great dancers because they are very well connected with the music and aware of their movements. And I mentioned this before: the dancer has to be connected with the music – if he is not connected it’s only artificial and I’m not interested in this. I’m fascinated when I feel that a little movement can tell a big story. If I could it express with words I would do it but I can’t – and therefore I do my work with dancers. Otherwise I still would work as a writer.
WJ: Each of your six performers–and I call them performers because I see them as actors as well as dancers–has a unique appearance and a unique style of movement. I think one of the strengths of Bolero Variations is how the personalities of these six performers shine through, despite the fact they don’t say a word–and much of the time, they move extremely slowly. Can you talk a little about how you choose your company of performers? What are the qualities you look for?
RH: All the dancers I work with are very strong personalities with a different background, different nationality, different age, different education, different religion, different sexual orientation and for me it’s important that we accept the difference. I like the difference between the dancers and that you can’t compare them. I hate competition on stage and I think it’s important that we can communicate – with all our differences.
How I find the dancers? How do you find a love or a friend? I meet a person and I’m interested in the person. I don’t make Speed dating and I don’t make auditions – I trust that I will meet the people which I should meet in my life. And I’m very thankful that I can meet beautiful people and work with them – and I
want to show the beauty of them with the audience.
WJ: Some will call Bolero Variations minimalist. I call it expressive and focused. I found the experience of watching the piece for two hours mesmerizing. I honestly did not want to leave after it ended. Are there any words of advice you’d like to share to your prospective audience on how to approach Bolero Variations?
RH: I don’t ask for anything – I just want that people are open and not afraid of their own feelings.
WJ: I want to conclude by noting your long collaboration with Pina Bausch. Although we were expecting Merce Cunningham’s passing, we in the dance world were truly stunned by the sudden passing of Pina Bausch. Both were giants in the world of contemporary dance. You worked with Pina for 10 years as her dramaturge, and you have also indicated in a recent interview that your work is actually quite different from Pina’s. Could you tell us briefly how the years working with Pina Bausch contributed to the development of your own work? What are some similarities as well as differences?
RH: I was working with Pina in the 80′s and I feel very much connected with this period and her works in the late 70′s – without the big video projections. I was very impressed how she could express with her dancers human feelings, fear and love, desire and violence, life and death. Another important experience was her behaviour during the rehearsals. When she asked the dancers her questions she never judged immediately – first she accepted every answer, wrote the answer on a paper and didn’t show what she liked and what not. She gave everyone the feeling to be accepted with his answer – and with this feeling the dancers lost their fear to express something from their life.

ON SIGHT: robbinschilds – C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience)

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
robbinschilds c.l.u.e.
Figure XI: robbinschilds C.L.U.E. photo: A.L. Steiner
Inhabiting the intersection of human movement and architecture, robbinschilds presents a full-spectrum video with acutely visual live dance, set to a score by rock quartet Kinski and edited in succinct rainbow-hued sections. Each sequence features robbinschilds in monochromatic outfits, acting in contrast and communion with their surroundings. The artists traverse through desolate desert landscapes, darkened parking lots, and geological formations, responding to the environment through choreographed duets. In a style that is obsessive, persistent, and often humorous, robbinschilds reveals their observations of the human imprint on the world.
KK: When we first spoke about presenting C.L.U.E., I mentioned my initial thinking about the mass of projects that make up the program. I was interested in the illusion of hope and the potential for newness, utopian visions in concert with dystopian realities. Between then and now we have sorted out all kinds of details, and your installation is now housed in a deconstructed geo-dome structure. How did the decision to adapt the piece for this specific site come together? What are the implications of showing C.L.U.E. in the dome?
robbinschilds: A geo-dome is an organic structure made of many triangles, sort of like a snowflake or a crystal, repeating shapes clumped together until they become structural and semi-spherical. Our dome is representative both of a human made architectural form and a quasi-natural formation resembling the slope of a mountain glacier or dune or an animal dwelling. Our partial dome, covered in carpet, like kudzu overgrowth or moss, grows up out of the schoolroom’s carpet tiled floor.

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ON SIGHT: Ma Qiusha – From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
Ma Qiusha presents her diaristic video From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili, a simple confessional that explores the artist’s conflict with personal, parental, and societal pressures to be successful. Holding a razorblade on her tongue, the artist tells short stories about her life as a young artist. She describes being compelled to strive for perfection and she talks about a search for meaning and understanding. She wonders about her parents’ approval and worries about her value to society as an artist and a daughter. Her speech is muddled and stunted by the cutting blade. The video is both psychological portrait and performance document.
ma qiusha
Figure X: Quisha’s From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili video still.

KK: When I saw your work in Shanghai, it was part of a group show called Refresh. The show highlighted the work of a new generation of Chinese artists. Most of the work that I had seen up until that point seemed focused on overtly political commentary related to the Cultural Revolution. In contrast, the work by younger artists in Refresh, seemed to be about identity politics, the state of the self and the search for self. Where does your work lie? What do you think accounts for this shift in thinking?
MQ: Refresh was planned and organized by a young Chinese curator/artist. Compared with other exhibitions, Refresh had an emphasis to showcase very excellent works by young Chinese artists. The curator himself wears many hats–his job was the planner/curator for the exhibit, but he is also an artist. I think this is the reason why the audiences viewed the art of young Chinese at this exhibit from a different angle. As an excerpt from my work From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili, “I was born in Beijing in the 80s…,” most of the artists featured in Refresh were born in the late 70s and the early 80s; the Cultural Revolution era ended before we were born. In fact, our fathers’ generation has more memory of it. For an artist, “self-exploration” is a theme in which we can base our work forever.

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ON SIGHT: Brian Lund

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
Brian Lund works primarily in the medium of drawing. His recent series of works on paper combine the visual vocabularies of two cinematic sources: Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987) and Busby Berkeley’s choreographed dance sequences from Depression-era Hollywood musicals. Every character and/or action in every edit of Wall Street and the Berkeley dance numbers has been graphically translated to a series of marks. These marks cluster and expand to form a map-like surface. Through an interweaving of these diagrammatic forms, Lund interprets a complex and layered multimedia experience.
brian lund
Figure IX: A detail of an untitled drawing by Brian Lund.

Mack McFarland: Your drawings, which map out every character and/or action in every edit of the selected films, are created from a graphical language consisting of colored dots and squares, as well as squiggly lines and bits of text. How and when does this system develop?

BL: I study a film at first, making a list of all the characters and/or events that are present in every shot, noting the cuts in between. From there, I create a set of symbols and marks that signify the main cast of characters from the film on a separate card. These symbols and marks will comprise much of the visual vocabulary for the actual drawing. Next, I’ll then complete a drawing by essentially going through the entire sequence of the film from beginning to end, so that the drawing will end up abstractly translating the whole film. I’ll usually indicate every fifth cut or every tenth cut by jotting down a number next to the appropriate place in the drawing. I also use short, straight lines that act as dividers, symbolizing where the cuts are in the film sequence. I can do this, of course, with any film, or any recorded event or production that is documented in time from start to finish.

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ON SIGHT: Kalup Linzy – Conversation Wit de Churen VII: Lil’ Myron’s Trade

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
Kalup Linzy continues his episodic soap-opera series Conversation Wit de Churen with Episode VII, in which Linzy portrays the melodramatic life of a fictional family. This storyline follows Katonya and several other characters through misguided love affairs punctuated with dreams and distraction. The artist serves as writer, director, cinematographer, editor, and actor–and, in a distinctive strategy, also voices and overdubs the dialogue of multiple characters.
Episode VII combines live action with animated dream sequences which were developed in residency at PICA and in collaboration with LAIKA/house. From his original take on the soap opera and family drama to his foul-mouthed music videos and filmic shorts, Linzy’s work is an exploration of the emotional realities of aspiration, disappointment, sexuality, and belonging.
kalup linzy conversations wit de churen
KK: Your characters speak in a mash-up of different dialects and you do all of the voice overs. Can you speak about this? Where do they come from?
KL: Most of the dialects in my videos are based on the one spoken in my hometown, a close-knit rural community. I also use standard English without eliminating my southern accent. In addition, some characters have more drawl than others.

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ON SIGHT: Fawn Krieger – National Park

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
During her residency at PICA, Krieger will construct a stage set as national park. The structure takes its cues from Lewis & Clark, museum dioramas, Superstudio, and the U.S.’s post-war middle-class tourism pastime, the roadtrip. Inspired by the artist’s own family cross-country trip in 1984, she creates an inside-out, indoor landscape and a meditation on mobility. The sprawling plateau of faded and fleshy territories includes plush, upholstered hills, craggy cement valleys, and cliffs of fragmented cabinetry, while exploring notions of the untouched and preserved.
fawn krieger family photo
KK: I remember you showing me pictures of your family on a cross country trip you took with them in 1984. You pointed out that even though you were there to commune with one another and a majestic landscape, your family snapshots communicate an entirely different scenario…one that placed your bodies at odds with one another, and that felt disconnected with the scenery. For this installation, you have chosen to create a set of sorts where people can supplant themselves in the landscape. Do you think under these constructed conditions people will connect and commune more readily? Is this even a concern?
FK: I’m not sure if people will connect or commune with one another or the structure more so than the way tourists do at sites also made expressly for staged experience. What I’m interested in is making labs of sorts, where a collective kind of situation or context can be semi-simulated, so that a person entering into it–you or me or someone’s mom–are both inside and outside of it at the same time. Not unlike the way places like Colonial Williamsburg function, except I’m not interested in recreating historical spaces, but materializing fantasy sites, where social ruptures and perceptual collisions can occur, in the present tense. What’s important is that everyone’s as much a member of these laboratories as they are a performer within it; nobody’s on the outside, even though everyone who visits National Park will be “outside.” Actually, since it takes place in the library space of Washington High School, we’ll really be outside inside. But definitely not inside out.

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ON SIGHT: Johanna Ketola – The Walls of My Hall

In collaboration with Jan Wolski
Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
The Walls Of My Hall is a multichannel video installation referring to the human body as a place to exist–a structure–related to its built environment. The work happens in “selected reality” as bodies are at rest and in calculated motion. The surroundings they inhabit and the furniture they sit upon are radically removed. Stark black, empty spaces still reflect what was once there and what has been erased. An audio soundtrack of live radio broadcast is pumped into the spaces by small radios, an echo of the present world colliding with these suspended people. Although dark and eerie, the piece also reflects a certain sense of humor, a moment of hope that we carry on even when we are represented in real or fictionalized space that is void of support.
johanna ketola the walls of my hall
Figure V: An installation view of Ketola’s The Walls Of My Hall.

KK: How are buildings related to bodies?

JK: The bodies are carried against the gravity by imaginary (and in this case invisible) buildings, spaces, furniture and other man-made structures. The structures can be imagined by the viewer by observing the compositions of the bodies and their relations to each other.

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ON SIGHT: Jesse Hayward – FOREVER NOW AND THEN AGAIN

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
Whether it’s with painted toothpicks that participants stab into an amorphous armature or, as is the case with FOREVER NOW AND THEN AGAIN, with several hundred painted, stackable boxes presented for our collaboration, Jesse Hayward creates installations that are intended for direct audience manipulation. Utilizing repetition and ritual, he builds and paints objects in his studio that are then reimagined through a collaborative installation practice, articulating a space wherein boundaries are blurred. The sculptural commingles with the painterly, the coactive with the drawn.
Hayward’s work exists in diminished hybridization, with multiple genres collapsing parasitically one upon the other. Rhythms of color and form soften and obscure their own structural underpinning, foreshadowing the instability and immateriality of all future outcomes.
This text has been transcribed and edited for print by Kristan Kennedy from an audio interview between Arcy Douglas and Jesse Hayward in the summer of 2008 for “Daisy Chain,” a project of artist-to-artist interviews initiated by artist Sandy Sampson for Parallel University. www.parallel-university.org
jesse haward forever now and then again

AD: Tell me where your work is right now, what are you working on?
JH: Stuff, boxes.

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ON SIGHT: Brody Condon – Without Sun

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
Named after the Chris Marker video Sans Soleil, Condon’s Without Sun is an edited compilation of “found performances” of individuals on a psychedelic substance. Images and sounds from the various clips collected from the Internet overlap and combine into one seamless experience, creating a 15-minute pseudo-narrative focused on the exterior surface of their “projection of self” into visionary worlds. Condon’s global players in Without Sun have this time recorded themselves looking at the camera. Taking up where Marker left off, these (inner) travelogues question memory, perception, and the effects of current participatory media and technology on culture. Condon’s work is notable for its influence on the repurposing of existing computer and live games to create sculpture, performance, and software installations. Youth of the Apocalypse, a series of self-playing game modifications based on Late Medieval Northern European religious paintings, is just one example.
brody condon without sun
Figure III: A Video Still from Condon’s Without Sun.

KK: You have spoken to me about your work, in particular your video, Without Sun, to be about in some part, “the projection of self.” What do you think it is about humans, firmly planted in one world, who go to all sorts of lengths (drugs, psychotherapy, role-playing, religious ritual, dreaming, magic) to conjure up other worlds?

BC: It would take lifetimes to fully answer that question. I will break it into a thousand smaller bits for now. What do people look like when they are on psychoactive substances that dissociate conscious perception from the body? What are the visible ways over-identifications with fantasy affect culture? Etc.

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ON SIGHT: Antoine Catala – TV

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
In this series of works, Antoine Catala uses complex technology and simple physical transformation to alter television images in real time. By altering mundane day-to-day television and displaying it in a quasi-cinematic way, Catala instigates a new, near-psychedelic experience of the familiar medium. TV is treated here as a continuous, unfiltered flow, regardless of its content. Catala brings a physical dimension to video, in what he calls “video scuptures,” to develop a new psychological relationship between the viewer and the medium.
antoine catala tv
Figure II: Antoine Catala’s video sculptures in TV.

KK: Why blobs?
AC: The Blob is the title of a horror movie, about an amorphous creature that terrorizes a small community. Blobs are grotesque, terrifying shapes. TV Blobs come straight out of a b-movie: the TV stream is a familiar companion that has been re-incarnated into a new body.

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ON SIGHT: Robert Boyd – Conspiracy Theory

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll share artist interviews and insights about this year’s ON SIGHT visual arts line-up. You can experience all of TBA:09′s visual arts installations from Sept 4 – 13, every day 12 – 6:30 pm. And join us for a free opening night reception party September 3, from 8 – 10:30 pm at Washington High School (map).
Robert Boyd’s Conspiracy Theory, the first part of his forthcoming project TOMORROW PEOPLE, is a synchronized two-channel video installation. Conspiracy Theory addresses issues of social paranoia and civil distrust in an era of questionable politics using excerpts from syndicated radio talk show hosts, international conspiracists, amateur documentary filmmakers, and the mysterious Commander X. Here, Boyd has submitted a top ten “Conspiracy Countdown.” Originally published in the P.S.1 newspaper on the occasion of his exhibition there in January of 2008.
robert boyd conspiracy theory
Figure I: An Installation View of Robert Boyd’s Conspiracy Theory.

10. Welt am Draht (World On a Wire), 1973
The made-for-TV science fiction film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder portrays a computer programmer who is working on a project called Simulacron that is able to simulate a full featured reality, only to discover that he, and the world he inhabits, is a simulation.

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TBA:09 Artistic Director Highlights: Amy O’Neal and Raimund Hoghe

locust crushed
Each week in August, TBA:09 Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will zero in on different artists and projects coming to the Time-Based Art Festival September 3-13. This is the final post of the series.
The TBA Festival this year features not-to-be-missed new dance, including two pieces by Pacific Northwest choreographer Amy O’Neal. TBA audiences are probably very familiar with Amy for her work as a dancer in Reggie Watts’ TBA:07 piece, Disinformation. Don’t miss the potent force of her own choreography!
The first of Amy’s works, crushed (September 7-8), is made in collaboration with musician Zeke Keeble and their company locust. Following that, Amy will present the world premiere of a small-scale and large-ambition duet, too, made under the name of AMYO/tinyrage (September 10-12). Both of these dances will be performed at Washington High School, home of the WORKS as well as a gorgeous old-world auditorium right at the center of the building.

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TBA:09 Artistic Director Highlights: Back to Back Theatre and Pan Pan Theatre

The Crumb Trail
Each week in August, TBA:09 Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will zero in on different artists and projects coming to the Time-Based Art Festival this September. This is the third post of the series.
The second week of the TBA:09 Festival includes an extraordinary line-up of international ensemble theater, featuring Back to Back Theatre from Australia and Pan Pan Theatre from Ireland. Having the opportunity to see both of these companies and their extraordinary brand of contemporary theater is a truly rare experience and I hope you won’t miss it!
Because of its site-specific nature and limited seating, small metal objects by Back to Back Theatre is the only presentation that is not included in your TBA passes; so please make a point of buying your tickets now! The piece is performed in Pioneer Courthouse Square and will provide a special window into the heart of Portland. I love small metal objects, which has toured all over the world, because it always reflects a very special sense of the place in which it is being performed. When I saw this piece sited in a busy train station in Adelaide, Australia, I had a theatrical experience on multiple levels, and I’m thrilled to share those experiences with Portland audiences. small metal objects is a fantastic piece – subtle and beautifully conceived, and utterly original.

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Dispatches from National Park

Since the beginning of August, artist-in-residence Fawn Krieger has been at work creating her National Park, on site at Washington High School. All day and into the evenings, the halls have been filled with the sounds of chop saws, drills and the Violent Femmes. Luckily for TBA audiences, she’s been documenting the conception and build-out of the entire work on her website. She writes:

like lewis & clark, i’ve decided to keep a journal of my expedition west, chronicaling my encounters with new life forms, and recording my experience of constructed proximity. this is my account of making a national park as stageset for the portland institute for contemporary art, in portland, oregon, from 5 august to 7 september 2009.


Follow the progress on her site, and get ready for your visit to National Park.

TBA:09 Artistic Director Highlights: Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company

young jean lee - the shipment
Each week in August, TBA:09 Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will zero in on different artists and projects coming to the Time-Based Art Festival this September. Today’s post is the second in this series.
At TBA:09, PICA is presenting some extraordinary ensemble theater companies from the US, Ireland, and Australia. We are starting out the festival with the brilliant and fearless American playwright Young Jean Lee, whose piece The Shipment will be running at the Gerding Theatre at the Armory over Labor Day weekend. This remarkable play manages to take on the issue of the day–anxiety about relationships between white culture and African-American culture–while maintaining its sense of humor and deftly exploring both theatrical structure and visceral content. It’s terrifyingly astute and is performed by a fantastic ensemble of actors capable of handling everything the script throws at them, from stand-up comedy to naturalistic theater. It’s always a pleasure to watch actors like these.

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TBA:09 Artistic Director Highlights: Meg Stuart and Miguel Gutierrez

Each week, from now until TBA:09, Guest Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will zero in on different artists and pieces coming to the festival.
megstuart3.jpg
When I first started to watch contemporary dance, one of my bright-light moments was seeing Meg Stuart’s dance, No Longer Readymade, at Performance Space 122 in 1994. Meg was young, mostly known as a dancer, and had just been commissioned by a venue in Europe to create something of her own. She was back in New York to show what she had been working on, and there was a palpable sense that she was doing something new with dance. At that time, contemporary dance was generally lovely, kinetic, physically fluid, and abstract, often accompanied by dramatic backlights and wide-legged tunic pants. When Meg took the stage, she occupied a supremely different state–one in which the movement was utterly inventive, but reflected an emotional state that was very raw, very resonant, very much about youth and displacement and transition and the anxiety of making art. It was ferocious, really, and over the course of the piece as Meg danced her body became a blur. I remember that as she repeatedly emptied the detritus of her life out of her jacket pockets, she seemed to shake with the effort and embarrassment and ambition of being a young person trying to make a life as an artist in a world that did not particularly care about her plight.
meg stuart no longer readymade
This was over 15 years ago–and I have watched Meg’s work with great interest ever since. She formed a company, the brilliantly-named Damaged Goods, and that company has been based in …

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TADA! Memories

Thank you to all who attended this year’s TADA! gala – it was a wild party and raised over $150,000 towards PICA’s 2009 artistic programming. Highlights included a wonderful introduction to the TBA:09 artistic lineup from new Guest Artistic Director Cathy Edwards, a preview of TBA:09 Artist robbinschilds with their special video, a very impassioned appeal for the arts from audience favorite and past TBA performer Reggie Watts, an energetic live auction, and a beautiful performance from TBA Artist Portland Cello Project with Tahoe Jackson.
Photos by PICA crew member extraordinaire, Jeff Forbes

More photos by photo booth maestro Chris Hornbecker
Posted by Brian Costello, PICA

PICA 2009 Time-Based Art Festival Lineup

For those of you following us on Twitter, you may have seen our big Twittercast today. Below is the full lineup with more information on the artists and their projects. Festival Passes are on sale now so get ready to dive in.
Details:
2009 Time-Based Art Festival (TBA:09)
September 3 – 13, 2009, visual exhibitions and installations through October, 2009
Portland, Oregon USA
Festival Passes on sale NOW : 503.242.1419
www.pica.org
Locations and venues to be announced.
FESTIVAL CURATORS
Cathy Edwards, Artistic Director
Erin Boberg Doughton, Performing Arts Program Director
Kristan Kennedy, Visual Art Program Director
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) presents the 2009 Time-Based Art Festival (TBA:09), PICA’s annual convergence of contemporary performance, dance, music, new media and visual arts projects in Portland, OR USA from September 3-13, 2009 with visual art installations continuing through October, 2009. Now in its seventh year, the TBA Festival celebrates every form of contemporary art and is one of the only festivals of its kind in North America.
2009 TIME-BASED ART FESTIVAL ARTIST LINEUP
Performance
Amyo/tinyrage / too (Seattle) Dance
too is a dance/video performance and is the product of two and a half years of filming duets with 50 different people; shooting locations span six US states and three cities in Japan. too follows the fragmented and dreamlike events of two dancers (Amy O’Neal and Ellie Sandstrom) who encounter 50 other people duet style, but manage to miss each other while environments and people constantly change. O’Neal has danced with Sandstrom, in other people’s productions and in O’Neal’s own choreographic work over the past 10 years.
Back to Back Theatre / Small Metal Objects (Australia) Theatre
Small Metal Objects unfolds amid real pedestrian traffic in a specially sited environment, the plot unbeknownst to passers-by. On raised seating with individual sets of headphones, the audience is wired into an intensely personal drama as Gary and Steve, the kind of men who normally escape notice, play an inadvertent but pivotal role in an arranged drug transaction. Back to Back Theatre creates new forms of contemporary theatre imagined from the minds and experiences of a unique ensemble of actors with disabilities, giving voice to social and political issues that speak to all people. Based in Geelong, Australia, the company makes work locally and tours globally. Small Metal Objects has received a “Bessie” New York Dance and Performance Award (2008), the Green Room Award (UK) for Best Theatre Production (2007) and the ZKB Appreciation Prize (Switzerland) for Extraordinary Achievement (2007).
Erik Friedlander / Block Ice and Propane (New York) Music
A premier avant-garde cellist, Erik Friedlander plays a concert of idiosyncratic American roots music, creating a loose and meditative sound in which he uses his fingers as often as he uses the cello bow. Block Ice & Propane is a collection of solo cello tunes that evoke images of truck-stops, long, lonely highways, and stark panoramas. Lyrical, plain-spoken, and emotional, the project was inspired by memories of summers he spent as a child crossing the U.S. in a station wagon while his father Lee Friedlander photographed an American landscape both elegiac and workaday. Images from these trips and spoken stories from his father accompany Erik’s stirring piece. Erik Friedlander is an improviser and a composer who is a veteran of New York City’s downtown music world and has played with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Courtney Love.
Block Ice & Propane is made possible by an American Masterpieces grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People / Last Meadow (New York) Dance
Last Meadow mines movements and texts from James Dean’s three films to create a non-narrative patchwork that describes an America where the jig is up and the dream has died. The piece exploits the iconic and inherently misunderstood image of James Dean as a symbol of the ways in which we project unrealistic and outsized expectations onto each other and onto our identity as a nation. Performance artist and TBA Alum Neal Medlyn is creating music for Last Meadow and visual artist Paul Chan will serve as dramaturg. Gutierrez’s work has been presented both nationally at Dance Theater Workshop and The Kitchen and internationally in festivals such as ImPuls Tanz in Vienna and Springdance Festival in Utrecht. Gutierrez has received Creative Capital and MAP Fund support for his work, and won a Bessie New York Dance and Performance Award for his piece Retrospective Exhibitionist and Difficult Bodies in 2006.
Last Meadow will have its world premiere at TBA:09 and is a co-commissioned project by PICA, Dance Theater Workshop, and the Flynn Center for the Arts.
Raimund Hoghe / Bolero Variations (Germany) Dance
Raimund Hoghe, a German choreographer, writer and for a decade dramaturg for Pina Bausch, explores ritual and minimalism in his performances, often drawing inspiration from well-known and archetypal pieces of music, in this case Maurice Ravel’s Bolero. Instead of relying on the crescendo of the Ravel music to set the tone of the piece, he cycles through different examples of the bolero, from Eydie Gormé & Trio Los Panchos to Maria Callas to Benny Goodman to Tchaikovsky. He includes several interpretations of Ravel’s Bolero, including a sound recording from the famous Torvill and Dean ice-dancing performance at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo (commentator remarks included–”Here comes the triple lutz!”). Hoghe, whose own physical difference is often an undercurrent to his choreography, explores physical and musical rituals with patience and an almost liturgical respect. Hoghe’s books have been translated into several languages and he has presented his performances all over Europe, as well as in Japan and Australia. He received the French Prix de la Critique in 2006 for Swan Lake, 4 Acts and the magazine Ballet-Tanz named him Dancer of the Year for 2008.
TBA:09 marks the U.S. premiere for Raimund Hoghe’s company.
Young Jean Lee / The Shipment (New York) Theatre
The Shipment is the newest theater project by TBA:07 Artist Young Jean Lee. Lee is known for her brazen theatrical inventiveness, and The Shipment applies her signature style and acid wit to the black experience in America. In collaboration with an all-black cast, Lee has created a three-part theatre piece that is provocative, terrifyingly astute, and scabrously funny. The title is based on a rap song that is about a shipment of drugs but that also evokes the African slave trade. Lee’s work has been presented in New York City at the Public Theater, HERE Art Center, the Soho Rep and The Kitchen, around the U.S. at the Wexner Center for the Arts (OH), the Walker Art Center (MN), On the Boards (WA), and has toured around the world to venues such as Kaaitheater (Brussels), Hebbel Theater (Berlin) and the Vienna Festival.
The Shipment will make its West Coast premiere at TBA:09.
locust / Crushed (Seattle) Dance
Crushed is a dance/music/video performance work dealing with the idea of being blindsided. Dancers sing and musicians dance in this feverishly physical dissection of cause and effect. TBA:05 Alum locust returns to Portland with choreographer Amy O’Neal to present this very visceral and exciting new work.
Pan Pan Theatre / Crumb Trail (Ireland) Theatre, Dance
A deconstructed version of Hansel and Gretel, this experimental multi-media theatre piece addresses the anxiety inherent in serving up private lives for public consumption in the internet age. Wickedly funny and densely theatrical, Crumb Trail takes on everything from parent-child relationships to internet predators to the self-aware construction of our own identities. Replete with existential uncertainty and musical interludes, Crumb Trail is a beautifully complex and fast-paced piece of theatre for our time. Pan Pan, established in 1993, creates original work through commissioning new writing and through the totally unique expression of established writings. Based in Ireland, the company tours nationally and internationally and has performed throughout Europe, Canada, Korea, Australia, China, and the United States.
Crumb Trail will make its West Coast premiere at TBA:09.
Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods with Philipp Gehmacher/Mumbling Fish / Maybe Forever (Brussels, Belgium) Dance
Vampires struggle with eternity and loneliness. Human beings struggle with each other and with the fact that things are not forever. Everyone struggles with something, and fortunately there are songs that make us feel better about it all. Choreographers Meg Stuart and Philipp Gehmacher let their artistic worlds bleed into one another as they embody the demise of a relationship in Maybe Forever. Brussels-based composer/musician Niko Hafkenscheid joins them on stage, inviting them to waltz to lullabies and into promised lands. But under the velvet surface of sweet melancholy simmers the unexpressed and the embryonic. Stuart received the Flemish Culture Award 2008 and Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods have been artists in residence at the Kaaitheater (Brussels), the Schauspielhaus Zurich, and the Volksbuhne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin. Stuart is known for her collaborations with other artists, including visual artist Ann Hamilton and media artist Gary Hill.
Influential dance artist Meg Stuart–an American artist living between Brussels and Berlin–makes a rare U.S. appearance with this West Coast premiere.
The following Visual Art exhibitions and installations will be on view through October, 2009. Admission to the Visual Art program is FREE.
Robert Boyd / Tomorrow People (New York) Video Installation
Tomorrow People is a synchronized two-channel video installation. The piece addresses issues of social paranoia and civil distrust in an era of questionable politics using excerpts from syndicated radio talk show hosts, international conspiracists, amateur documentary filmmakers, and the mysterious Commander X. Boyd represents a history of apocalyptic thought as a series of MTV-style music videos within a setting reminiscent of a discotheque.
Working in the areas of video, installation, photography, and sculpture, Robert Boyd culls imagery from Internet news clips, television cartoons, vintage documentary films, and archival footage of doomsday cults, iconic political figures and global fundamentalist movements. Contrasting the familiar and the fringe along with the popular and the notorious, Boyd’s work suggests a displacement between the euphoric idyll promised by disco and the chilling reality of collective human brutality.
His work has been widely exhibited at venues such as the Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah; The Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis; 303 Gallery, New York; Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut; Artsonje Center, Seoul; Context Galleries, Derry; The Hospital, London; PKM Gallery, Beijing; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City; Participant Inc, New York; Centre de Cultura Contemporània, Barcelona; White Box, New York; Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris; Smart Project Space, Amsterdam; The Islip Art Museum, Islip, New York; and Momenta Art, Brooklyn, New York. His work is included in numerous private and public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Antoine Catala / (France + New York) Video Installation
Exploring video compression technologies, Antoine Catala utilizes distortion effects to create video installations that enlighten the medium’s very own snags and glitches. In his digital diptychs, he enhances imperfections, renders errors, and highlights other visual malformations to generate complex faceted figures. In rethinking portraiture, he delivers haunted digital composites that move the face across the screen in halting, often painful transmutations of subjectivity. Developing a technique that distorts movement in its continuity, Catala has created a method for inputting data, and outputting distortion, a practice through which he becomes vulnerable to the technology he is manipulating.
His practice includes performance-based works and curating as a medium. A New York-based French artist, Antoine was schooled in Sonic and Fine Arts at Middlesex and London Guildhall Universities in London. His work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, Mexico, and the UK.
Brody Condon / Without Sun (New York) Video, Performance
Named after the classic Chris Marker video Sans Soliel, Brody Condon’s Without Sun is a 15-minute compilation of found internet video clips. Utilizing footage of teens experiencing the legal psychedelic drug Salvia divinorum, the sounds and images overlapping, Brody creates a pseudo-narrative utilizing focused on the exterior surface of the “projection of self” into visionary worlds. The clips, posted to YouTube and available worldwide, demonstrate the gap between lived experience of transcendental aims with its representation. For TBA:09 the piece will be installed as video and will also be staged as a live performance, acted out in word and movement by a local dancer and actor selected by the artist.
Condon was born in Mexico and received his MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 2002. His education includes residencies at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in 2004 and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2001. He has participated in exhibitions at galleries, cultural institutions, and event spaces internationally such as the 2004 Whitney Biennial, Pace Wildenstein Gallery and New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Santa Monica Museum of Art and Machine Project in California, the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Kunst-werke in Berlin, and the Stedelijk Museum Post CS and Sonsbeek 2008 International Public Sculpture Exhibition in the Netherlands.
Sharon Hayes / (New York) Video, Performance
Blurring the lines between social intervention, political activism, and public spectacle, Hayes utilizes video, performance, and installation to orchestrate and document collective activity in the public domain. Informed by theater, film, anthropology, linguistics, and journalism, her work investigates the relationship between history, politics, and speech and the process of individual and collective subject formation.
Hayes’ installation, video and performance work has been shown at P.S. 1 Museum of Contemporary Art, Andrew Kreps Gallery, Parlour Projects, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program, Dance Theater Workshop, Dixon Place, HERE, Performance Space 122, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. In addition she has shown in galleries, exhibition or performance spaces in Bogotá, Berlin, Copenhagen, Malmö, Vienna and Zagreb as well as in California, Florida, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont, and in 45 lesbian living rooms across the United States. Hayes is represented by Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin.
For TBA:09 Hayes will develop a new site specific piece which comments on the politics of love.
Jesse Hayward / (Portland, OR) Sculpture, Installation — PICA COMMISSION
Utilizing accumulation, repetition, and ritual, Jesse Hayward creates amorphous armatures out of canvas, plastic, metal, foam, or wood. These assembled forms are covered in ink, raw pigment, and glitter, softening and obscuring the original structure. Resulting in an uncanny use of color, space, and form that re-contextualizes the relationship between painterly and sculptural forms, his work often achieves a heightened sense of balanced chaos and foreshadows the instability and immateriality of future outcomes. The sculptural commingles with the painterly and the drawn, articulating a space wherein boundaries are blurred and the rhythms of color and form create new interpretations of our sacred beliefs and natural environments. Although Hayward engages the basic tropes of art-making, what finally emerges is something alien. The objects exist in a state of diminished hybridization, with multiple genres parasitically collapsing one another.
Jesse Hayward received his MFA from California College of Art in 2002. His work has been exhibited at PDX Contemporary Art Window Project in Portland, OR, Southern Exposure in San Francisco, CA, and The Affair at The Jupiter Hotel Art Fair, among others. In 2006 Hayward’s work was included in the Oregon Biennial at the Portland Art Museum. His work has been reviewed in The Oregonian, PORT, PDX Magazine, Willamette Week, and the Portland Mercury. Most recently, Hayward was short listed for the Portland Art Museum’s Contemporary Northwest Art Award.
Johanna Ketola / The Walls Of My Hall (Finland) Video Installation
The Walls Of My Hall is a multi channel video installation, which refers to the human body as a place to exist, a structure, related to its built environment. The work happens in “selected reality” as bodies are at rest and suspended in motion, the surroundings that they inhabit and the furniture they sit upon is radically removed. Stark black, empty spaces still reflect what was once there- what has been erased. An audio soundtrack of live radio broadcast is pumped into the spaces by small radios, an echo of the present world colliding with these frozen people. Although dark and eerie, the piece also reflects a certain sense of humor, a moment of hope that we carry on even when we are represented in real or fictionalized space that is void of support.
Working in video and photography, Finnish artist Johanna Ketola reconstructs narrative that is built upon her quotidian observations of every day life. This results in both fictional and autobiographical characters and stories, which often reflect her state of being as affected by a kind of sweet and absurd hopefulness about the human condition. Her work has been exhibited at Gallery Jangva in Helsinki, Finland and Oulun City Art Museum in Oulun, Finland.
Ketola’s presentation at TBA:09 will be her United States debut.
Fawn Krieger / (New York) Installation, Video — PICA RESIDENCY + COMMISSION
Krieger will construct a national park as stageset. The structure takes its cues from UNESCO World Heritage sites, Lewis & Clark expeditions, museum dioramas, the Hudson River School, Superstudio, and America’s post-war middle-class touristic pastime, the Cross Country trip. Inspired by the artist’s own family cross-country trip in 1984, she presents us with an inside-out, indoor landscape–a built environment that asks which of our natures are not made? The sprawling plateau of faded and fleshy territories includes plush, upholstered hills, craggy cement valleys, and cliffs of fragmented cabinetry. With each modeled region, the “untouched” is retouched.
Fawn Krieger is a NY-based artist, born in 1975, whose multi-genre works re-imagine everyday sites like the shop and home. Her “stages” are inhabitable sculptures that transform spectators into participants, and examine the politics of ownership and exchange. Krieger’s Flintstonian tactility, and penchant for scale compressions, unfolds an unlikely collision of private and public space, where intimate moments also serve as social ruptures. She received her BFA from Parsons School of Design, and her MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited at The Kitchen (NY), Art in General (NY), Nice & Fit Gallery (Berlin), The Moore Space (Miami), Von Lintel Gallery (NY), the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University (Boston), and Neon>fdv (Milan). Krieger is the recipient of grants from Art Matters Foundation (2008) and the Jerome Foundation (2007), and currently teaches at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Molloy College.
This project is made possible in part by a grant from the National Performance Network’s Visual Artists Network. Major contributors are the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. www.npnweb.org
Kalup Linzy / (New York) Video, Performance — PICA RESIDENCY
Acting as director-actor and singer-songwriter, New York-based Kalup Linzy draws on a variety of American pop- and counter-culture genres, including soap operas and early video and performance art. Creating melancholic video narratives that are often frantic and schizophrenic, his storylines mime traditional melodramas while satirizing the medium. Routinely dressed in drag and often lip-synching to Kalup’s wildly manipulated prerecorded vocal tracks, the characters interact to uncover the shrewd home truths about race, class, sex, love, family and stereotyping.
Kalup Linzy was born in Stuckey, Florida and graduated from the MFA program at the University of South Florida in 2003. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2005. Linzy’s work has been exhibited internationally, his work is currently on view in a massive one person exhibition at the Studio Museum of Harlem and he was recently featured in Prospect One in New Orleans. He is a recipient of a grant from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and was named a Guggenheim fellow in 2007. In 2008 he received a Creative Capital Grant and a fellowship from the Jerome Foundation. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Art in America, and Artforum.
Ma Qiusha / From No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili (Beijing, China) Video
Ma Qiusha presents her diaristic video No.4 Pingyuanli to No.4 Tianqiaobeili a simple confessional, which explores the artists’ conflict with both parental and societal pressures to be successful. Holding a razorblade on her tongue the artist tells short stories about her life as a young artist, she describes being compelled to strive for perfection, when her female sex has already been deemed “less-than.” She talks about for love and affection companionship and understanding while living life as one of the millions of China’s “only children”. She wonders about her parent’s approval and worries about her value to society as an artist and a daughter. Her speech is muddled and stunted by the cutting blade. The video is both psychological portrait and a performance document.
Ma is a young Chinese artist recently featured in REFRESH : Emerging Chinese Artists at the Zendai Moma, Shanghai, China. 1982 Born in Beijing, China. 2005 Graduated from Digital Media studio of The Central Academy of Fine Arts. Beijing, China. Now Living And Working In Beijing, China. Group exhibitions: 2006 35th International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands 2005 Rumor Décor, Ddmwarehouse, Shanghai, China 2005 Beijing Documenta – Producing HIGH, Beijing, China 2005 A Cartoon, Taikang Top Space, Beijing, China 2005 920 Kilograms, Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art. Shanghai, China 2005 Archaeology of the Future: the Second Triennial of Chinese Art. Nanjing Museum, Nanjing, China 2005 “Experience and Consciousness-The New Vision Media Festival”. Beijing film academy, Beijing, China 2004 Automat Contemporary Art Exhibition, Suzhou Art & Design Technology Institute. Suzhou, China 2004 SCARIFY– China Present Independent Video Exhibition. Beijing, China 2004 The 3rd Changsha Contemporary Art Exhibition. Changsha.
robbinschilds + A.L. Steiner / C.L.U.E. (New York) Performance/Installation
C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience) is a collaboration between artists A.L. Steiner and robbinschilds (Layla Childs and Sonya Robbins), AJ Blandford, and Kinski. Like a living organism, C.L.U.E. adapts to the space it temporarily occupies. In this manifestation, it will take the form of site-specific performance, multichannel video installation, and video projection. The flexible nature of this project embraces multiple arrangements of its parts, allowing the environment to inform its presentation. Shifting shape while generating new elements is essential for C.L.U.E. and enables it to continually evolve, remaining a work permanently in progress.
In the process of making their work, the artists visit locales ranging from desolate desert landscapes to darkened parking lots, responding to the environment and capturing the results of these interactions. The subsequent videos are choreographed patterns, crafted through the use of carefully timed jump cuts that divide the piece into discrete, color-coded sections.
robbinschilds was formed by Sonya Robbins and Layla Childs in 2003. The company presents highly visual time-based works that explore the intersection between architecture and human movement. In addition to their live work, robbinschilds’ video art has been exhibited at Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, Spain (September 2007), Taxter and Spengemann gallery (March 2007), LACE: Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, (February 2007) and was screened as part of the BAM Next Wave series. robbinschilds has worked with the art collective Chicks on Speed, choreographing the group’s 30-minute video piece Visitors, which premiered at the Deitch Gallery in April of 2005, and has collaborated with Japanther on a rock opera that will premiere in November at the Performa 09 festival in New York City. robbinschilds premiered C.L.U.E. at P.S.122., the piece was adapted for the New Museum in New York in 2008.
A.L. Steiner was born and raised in Miami, FL. Her photo & video work has been published and exhibited internationally since 1997, most recently at Moda Fad (Barcelona), Starship (Berlin) and New Langton Arts (San Francisco). Steiner collaborated with Chicks on Speed, Nicole Eisenman on the publication Ridykeulous (Summer 2005). A.L. Steiner is represented by Taxter and Spengemann in New York.
Ethan Rose / Movements (Portland, OR) Installation
Movements, Ethan Rose’s latest sound installation, consists of over one hundred altered music boxes carefully timed and methodically displayed across the gallery walls. The tinkering creates a sensation of a shifting texture, housed in a visually stimulating acoustic environment. Rose uniquely blends electronic devices with instruments of the past, including player pianos and carillons, creating sounds and compositions of new sonic possibility, rather than musical preservation.
Over the past ten years Ethan has released recordings, scored films, performed internationally, and created sound installations. He has worked with a number of artists and organizations including Gus Van Sant, Molo Design, and The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. Rose has received several grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and was recently awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission. Recent exhibitions, projects, and performances include Player Piano at Tilt Gallery.
Stephen Slappe / WE ARE LEGION (Portland, OR) Web Project
Using video, installation, drawing and printmaking, Slappe sifts through the epistemological wake of technology and popular culture. Drawing on sci-fi, vampire, and B-movies, along with Google street view and footage of rural Oregon, his video projections blend humor, absurdity, and anxiety in works that reflect upon the notion of home, transience, and physical and psychological escape. For TBA:09 Slappe creates a never-ending army of costumed children in a web project entitled WE ARE LEGION.
Slappe’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the South Carolina State Museum, The Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow, The Sarai Media Lab in Delhi, Consolidated Works in Seattle, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s TBA Festival in Portland, Artists’ Television in San Francisco, and Saltworks Gallery in Atlanta. He received a 2007 Artistic Focus Project Grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council in Portland, Oregon.
Special Labor Day Event
Slow Food Movement / Eat In Picnic (Portland, OR) Picnic
The members of Slow Food Portland–numbering over 500–are a diverse group of food enthusiasts with a curiosity about food traditions and heritage, local artisanal products, sustainable agriculture and the protection of the biodiversity of our local and global food sheds. Members include home and professional chefs, caterers, growers, vintners, restauranteurs, food educators, and lots of ordinary people and families that like to cook and eat and know where their food comes from. Join them in this special free Labor Day Picnic open to one and all.
Film/Performance
Daniel Barrow / Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry (Winnipeg, Canada) Film/ Performance
co-presented with Cinema Project and NW Film Center
Winnipeg-based artist Daniel Barrow uses obsolete technologies to present written, pictorial and cinematic narratives centering on the practices of drawing and collecting. Barrow’s newest “manual animation” combines overhead projection with video, music, and live narration to tell the story of a garbage man with a vision to create an independent phone book chronicling the lives of each person in his city.
Hitoshi Toyoda / Nazuna and Spoonfulriver (New York/Tokyo) Film
co-presented with Cinema Project and NW Film Center
Hitoshi Toyoda is a self-taught photographer who has worked exclusively in the medium of slideshows for the past ten years. These slideshows are silent and consist of images taken in the course of his daily life. While the material is taken from the past, the presentation of one image after another appearing and disappearing places emphasis on the weight and value of present moment.
Tyler Wallace + Nicole Dill / Between Us (Portland, OR) Performance, Video
Between Us is a performance-based outdoor video installation that examines the lines between private and public spaces, confidentiality and disclosure, voyeurism and exhibitionism. Set in a parking lot, the artists sit in a car and have a “private” conversation. The car is equipped with video cameras and microphones that transmit live video and audio feeds from inside the car. The videos are projected larger-than-life onto a nearby wall and the audio is amplified. The set-up resembles that of a drive-in theater. Unlike a traditional drive-in, however, the car in Between Us faces away from the projected image, converting the car into an imagined stage.
Tyler Wallace + Nicole Dill are completing their undergraduate work at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Lectures
Danielle Goldman / Close Encounters: Contemporary Dance and Theories of Intimacy (New York)
Paying particular attention to the choreographers presenting work in the TBA:09 Festival, the lecture will explore connections between contemporary dance and theories of intimacy in philosophy, literature, and histories of photography. What happens when bodies, sensually complex and laden with history, encounter one another at close range?
Danielle Goldman has taught in the Dance Department at Barnard College, the Performance Studies Department at New York University, and the Arts Department at The New School, where she is currently Assistant Professor of Dance History and Theory. She recently edited a special issue of Women & Performance, exploring gendered relations between music and dance, and was guest co-editor for the Movement Research Performance Journal #33. She has published articles in Dance Research, Dance Research Journal, Etcetera, and TDR: The Drama Review. Her book, I Want to be Ready: Improvised Dance as a Practice of Freedom, will be published by the University of Michigan Press in December, 2009. She is also a dancer who has worked with choreographers including Rachel Bernsen, Judith Sánchez Ruíz, Anna Sperber, and, most recently, DD Dorvillier and Beth Gill.
Peter Kreider / The China Syndrome (New York)
In conjunction with the release of a catalog co-produced by PICA and the Douglas F. Cooley Gallery, Reed College, TBA:08 artist Kreider returns to Portland to talk about his participation in an exhibition in China and his experience having work fabricated and exhibited in the “world’s workshop.” Kreider takes us on a wild ride as he recounts his journey from start to finish. In the end a poignant story of an emerging art market, cross-cultural collaboration, folly, intrigue, near catastrophe and eventual triumph emerges.
Posted by Brian Costello, PICA

PICA Member Profile: David Bragdon

You’ve been involved with PICA since the mid-nineties–a long time! Can you give five reasons why you’ve been a PICA supporter for so long?
David Bragdon: I joined early on to support Kristy Edmunds efforts to bring creative new work to Portland at a time when there was less of it than there is today. Second, in the days when PICA had a performance series I enjoyed my membership as a chance to have my mind provoked. I liked about half the performances and hated about half of them and understood none of them; but I was glad to have attended all of them. Third, when PICA’s performance season evolved to a more concentrated series in the form of TBA, I enjoyed that sense of something happening all week long and the energy that accumulates when the events all run together. Fourth, philosophically, I support having an organization like PICA to encourage local artists event during the times of the year when there are not performances. Fifth, I can’t believe it’s been nearly fifteen years that I have been a member!

Did you ever attend a DADA ball? If so, what is your best memory?

DB: Oh yes, oh yes. I know I attended the first and second ones, and then probably the fourth. My best memory is the first one, on the waterfront in lower Albina near the grain elevator. It was a magical evening. Specifically, my favorite memory is washing blue dye out of my hair in a friend’s kitchen sink afterwards.
What is your favorite TBA performance?
DB: Its is tied between two different shows which both took place in the Newmark. One was Laurie Anderson’s work with NASA. The other was another spoken word project …(hmm…I must be a verbal person, not a visual one!) which title I have forgotten [ed: The Spalding Gray Project, during TBA:06], about Spalding Gray and Dustin Hoffman. My all time favorite was the guy at the WORKS who did the Lionel Ritchie medley–Kenny Mellman. In terms of the performance series predating TBA, my favorite was the Israeli dance troupe that baked bread.

Describe your philosophy of supporting the arts?

DB: Arts make me think with a part of my brain that I would like to develop and apply more. That’s the selfish reason, so maybe I should not admit it! I also think that arts, especially when I don’t understand them, add more to the fabric of a community that I would like to live in.
Are you an artist yourself? What do you create?
DB: I like writing fictional short stories and fantasies and semi-fictional memoirs which go into a desk drawer or to select friends.
Add a question, one that you think should be answered about yourself.
DB: What would I be doing if I didn’t have this job? Railroad brakeman.

Fueled by Theraflu / NY ARMORY TRIP PT 1

PICA’s Visual Art Program Director, Kristan Kennedy just got back from her annual pilgrimage to the sprawling art fair that is the Armory Show. When Kennedy travels she sends back stream of consciousness emails about the work she sees to the PICA staff. Occasionally the news is fit to print. In this day by day blog, Kennedy has just landed in her hometown of Brooklyn and takes a trip to the Brooklyn Museum.
Today I went to the Brooklyn Museum with my mom who had a rare day off. We went to see the Hernan Bas show a sprawling survey that includes: little works on paper made with alkyd paints (pushed around into storybook images of lonely boys in some lost world) – larger works which get more elaborate in mark and color – dreamy video works of sailors and mermaids and sculptural works that look like piles of sunken treasures.
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Hernan Bas (American, b. 1978). Mystery of the Hollow Oak, 2001. From the series It’s Super Natural. Water-based oil on paper. The Rubell Family Collection, Miami
The show is comprised of 6 rooms and several tiny alcoves jam-packed with works, it could swallow the recent Elizabeth Peyton show at the New Museum whole.
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Elizabeth Peyton, Georgia (After Stieglitz 1918), 2006, monotype on handmade paper, 30 x 22 inches
All of the works are from the Rubell collection, which sort of blows my mind. Bas, born in 1978 is still as young as the boys he draws, and it seems like every scrap of paper he touched was snapped up by these and other aggressive collectors. A quick google search will turn up various details, Hernan was born in Cuba and raised in Florida, he graduated from the New World School of the Arts in Miami. (which has to be the best name for an art school ever). He is somewhat of an art world darling, with a billion interviews and party sightings dotting many art blogs and web sites.
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Hernan Bas (American, b. 1978). The Burden (I Shall Leave No Memoirs), 2006. From the series Dandies, Pansies and Prudes. Acrylic and gouache on linen. The Rubell Family Collection, Miami
It was in a cavernous gallery at the center of the floor that there was some relief from his relentless images of beautiful boys. Here a five channel video piece took over. Cool blue water rushes in intermixed with synchronized swimming scenes of live mermaids, the kinds that used to perform at theme parks across America. They are undulating through the water in seashell bikini tops and are zipped into spandex fins. Flipping and twisting they look trapped and free at the same time. The only thing that breaks the illusion is the tiny tubes they keep floating towards to inhale little bursts of air. 
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Upon exiting this underwater land I found myself in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art a newish space on the museums fourth floor. Here, a thin but well-meaning exhibition Burning Down The House: Building a Feminist Art Collection offered a crash course in Feminist Art. With some important pieces, and an ambitious plan to grow the center it still failed to have the impact that WACK! or the plethora of other Feminist Art surveys did that had swept up the art world a couple of years ago. 
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Kiki Smith (American, b. Germany, 1954). Born, 2002. Lithograph, edition 4 of 28. Brooklyn Museum, Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2003.17
By far the crowning jewel of the center is Judy Chicago’s stunning installation “The Dinner Party” which will live forever at the Brooklyn Museum in a triangular glass room. 
Allow me to digress….
A couple of months ago when I was languishing out in outer Brooklyn, I discovered that an express bus to Midtown was right around the corner. I started taking it into the city and was amazed that I had missed out for many a year on this luxurious way to make the hour long commute. I had an entire row of giant plush seats to myself, with high backs and giant window views. At every stop from Ocean Ave in Midwood to Flatbush Ave. it became clear that the only people who took this bus were older, wealthy, Jewish women.
Long furs, bandages from plastic surgery, giant gilded sunglasses and nasal tinged chatter started to fill the bus. I listened to these women’s conversations with rapt attention. The two loudest ladies were right behind me, one was talking about her five husbands, the other was telling her that she could not keep track of them all, they shrieked and laughed, scolded and berated each-other. It was the stuff of great scripts. Flying down East 23rd the conversation turned towards art, one of the women was blabbing about her long ago life as a collector. She loved to travel the world she said. “I love people and art from all ovah the world, you see our bus driver, he is Chinese, when I get awff I’m gonna say ‘sheaaa sheaaa’ [xie xie]. You know what that means? It means ‘thank you;’ I picked up different phrases on my travels.” Her friend was non-plussed which made her pull out all the stops. “I still love to look at art, I went to the Brooklyn Museum last week, I saaaw the most buutiful installation, it was caawled ‘the dinner party’ by Judy Chiiicagggooo, do you know it?…”
The other woman exasperated says, “Oh yeah it was haaariblle, disgusting, lets not tawlk about it.”
The blonde retorts, “Whaaa!? Your insane, it is amazing, it shows the whole history of women, it is awwll handmande, how could you say that? It is a masterpiece, you’re insane.”
The other woman chimes in, “Well , I like what I like. What can I say?” 
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At this point the blonde pats me on the shoulder. “Do you know about Judy Chicago?” This was my lucky day! I said, “Yes, and I have to agree with you, that piece is a masterpiece.”
She is obviously excited and squeals, “You see! I knew it, it is – it really is. Everyone knows it. What is your problem?”
At this point her friend just scowls, throws up her hand and says “Hmmpf!” then she leans forward and whispers in my ear, “It’s all vaginnnaaas!” obviously horrified. With that the conversation turned to the Housing Works thrift shop and all of the prints and art books and Emanuel Ungaro pants they had found there. Soon it was time to get off the bus and I bid my new friends farewell. 
Fast forward to my current position, standing in front of the giant table – yes indeed, the piece is all vaginas. Each place setting, a handmade goblet, fork and knife, needle point and lace table cloths, plates emblazoned, carved and painted. The cloth, the floor, the walls covered in women’s names. Women who painted, protested and suffered, women who wrote the greatest poems, composed Gregorian chants, who changed the course of history, quietly and confidently. Women I learned about from my mother, who was now standing beside me. She could have a place setting of her own, if Judy knew her she might consider it. 
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It is in this room that I ran into another gaggle of women. They are of the same tribe from the Express bus, I imagine my “friends” telling them about the installation, and of them making a date, getting their hair set, scrawling the orange red lipstick on and heading out to see the piece. I give them a nod and they took it as an invitation to talk to me.
“Are these famous movie stars?
“Did that lady Georgia something paint this?”
I realized that I had to give them an impromptu tour, and took them around the table trying to bring them into the thinking behind the work slowly and steadily. They thanked me for my time and we parted ways. As I left the room, I could hear them shout.
“Awww Hilldeeegaaard!”
“Wasn’t she in that movie? Wasn’t she someone famous?”
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My mother started to shout across the table at them, “Noooo Hildegarde of Bingen!!!” If we had only had more time, She would have told them this:
 

Hildegarde of Bingen
(b. 1098, Böckelheim, Germany; d. 1179, Ruperstberg, Germany)
Hildegarde of Bingen, also known as St. Hildegard and the Sybil of the Rhine, was an enormously influential and spiritual woman, who paved the way for other women to succeed in a number of fields from theology to music. She was a mystic writer, who completed three books of her visions. During a time when members of the Catholic Church accorded women little respect, Hildegarde was consulted by bishops and consorted with the Pope, exerting influence over them.
In 1136, Hildegarde assumed the role of Mother Superior of the convent. In 1147, she moved the convent to Rupertsberg, a town near Bingen, as urged by one of her visions. Although never formally educated and unable to write, Hildegarde quickly became a well-regarded authority and gave influential advice, relying on secretaries to transcribe her ideas onto paper. She was an idolized visionary who earned a saint-like status and name, despite her lack of official beatification. 
She wrote on topics ranging from philosophy to natural healing with a critical expertise praised by both German advice-seekers and the highest-ranking figure in the Church, Pope Eugenius III. An esteemed advocate for scientific research, Hildegarde was one of the earliest promoters of the use of herbal medicine to treat ailments. She wrote several books on medicine, including Physica, circa 1150, which was primarily concerned with the use of herbs in medicinal treatment.
Hildegarde may be best known as a composer. Stemming from the traditional incantations of Church music, Hildegarde’s compositions took the form of a single chant-like, melodic line. These compositions are called antiphons and are a single line of music sung before and after a psalm. Hildegarde combined all of her music into a cycle called Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum, circa 1151, or The Symphony of the Harmony of the Heavenly Revelations, which reflects her belief that music was the highest praise to God. Her works, including In Evangelium and O Viridissima Virga, are still released today, and her ethereal style continues to influence New Age music. Hildegarde of Bingen stands out as an extraordinary figure in women’s history, not only as a talented musician but also as an unapologetically prodigious woman who found remarkable success by expressing her unique voice.

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Head from a Female Sphinx. Found in Italy, said to have been in the ruins of Emperor Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli, outside Rome; originally from Egypt, probably Heliopolis. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, reign of Amunemhat II, circa 1876-1842 B.C. Chlorite
Moving through the museum from newness (Hernan Bas) to historical (Feminism), I now found myself communing with the ancients. The Brooklyn Museum has one of the best collections of Egyptian artifacts In the entire world. Although I worked at the Museum in my youth and grew up crawling through it’s halls of mock ruins and tombs. I have never felt an attachment to these cold carved objects.
Today I feel different, and cannot take my eyes off of this “Head from a Female Sphinx.” Perhaps it is because I have recently become obsessed with collecting amateur sculpture and live amongst globs of clay fashioned into half finished heads, perhaps it is because I have been surrounded by all of these women, on the bus, upstairs on the walls, at the dinner table. But this woman, strong and silent, cracked and decomposed seems more relevant than anything else. More loaded than the frolicking boys and mermaids of Bas, more wise than the Cindy Sherman portraits and more stylized than the Chicago plates, louder than those ladies on the bus. Looking back on what spoke to me on this trip from the Armory to my studio visits, it seems the Sphinx followed me…
Heads.jpg
Photographs : Kristan Kennedy
Next up, Part 2 , Kennedy hits the Lower East Side, and takes a nap at the New Museum…
Entry by Kristan Kennedy, PICA / Edited by Brian Costello, PICA

Healthful exercise, delightful pleasure indeed

Get a feel for what is to come with Ethan Rose’s Oaks Park concert next week. Both the Portland Mercury and Willamette Week have done some great interviews with Ethan.
“Rose’s infatuation with utilizing the fruits of the ancient Wurlitzer is absolutely pure. More an artist than your typical musician, Rose has been building, then demolishing, quiet instrumental soundscapes for quite some time now. His sculpted, gorgeous ambient structures are compiled with a frustrating level of detail–this music is akin to a ship in a bottle; you don’t know how it got there, but can appreciate its patient assembly. Rose’s finest works are delicate in nature, and barely tip the volume scales above a polite hum.”
–Portland Mercury
“His latest effort, the appropriately titled Oaks, is made chiefly from the Wurlitzer organ we’re investigating at Oaks Park. With some assistance from [organist Keith] Fortune, Rose set up a dozen microphones around the inside of the rink–which sits directly beneath the organ’s piping system–recording the organ’s tones and chintzy artificial percussion. Back in his home studio, these sanguine noises were elongated and turned inside out, then stitched into long pieces that can evoke melancholic and nostalgic feelings in the listener.”
–Willamette Week
Tues . Jan 27 . 8-10 pm (Doors at 7 pm. Admission includes skate rental.)
Oaks Park
7805 SE Oaks Park Way
Portland OR 97202
503.233.5777
$10 Advance and Member Price
$12 General
All Ages
Posted by Brian Costello, PICA

Skate Night! Ethan Rose CD Release at Oaks Park, Jan 27th

Holocene Records and PICA are throwing a roller rink party to launch the new album by PDX’s own Ethan Rose, whose music was recently used in Gus Van Sant’s movie Paranoid Park. Rose’s haunting electronic music reminds me of Colleen, and is similarly just the thing to load in your iPod and take on a walk at dusk.
Rose used the organ at Oaks Park to create the initial sounds for this album, which he then mixed and layered. There’s something creepy but appealing about his music which I expect to pair well with the nostalgia and weirdness of Oaks Park. Roller skating to it will feel like being in an old horror movie or episode of the Twilight Zone–you’ll want to keep skating in circles, but just don’t look behind you for the ghosts of skaters past.
If you go to First Thursdays then you were probably sucked into the crowd that stood captivated by Rose’s player piano at Tilt in the Everett Street Galleries last March. Rose rehabbed the piano, created a punched paper roll of music to feed it, recorded the sounds, and then remixed and broadcast the songs from within the piano. Other antique acoustic musical instruments and found objects, including broken music boxes, ghost through his albums.
And finally, there’s a promise of appearances from Portland’s elite roller skaters. I have no idea who that means (if not the derby girls), but it’s another reason to go. Admission includes skate rental.
Buy tickets here.
Listen to a sample by visiting Rose’s site or download the mp3 for On Wheels Rotating here.
-Carissa Wodehouse
PICA blogger, member, enthusiast
PICA info follows after the jump.

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Tim Crouch: ENGLAND

England

Tim Crouch / England
09.08.08 at Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Tim Crouch
Hannah Ringham
2008 Time-Based Art Festival, PICA
Photo by Axel Nastansky
All Rights Reserved, PICA

Here we are, a few weeks from when the festival ended, and here I am, posting something I wrote the night I saw ENGLAND.

I wrote this emphatically, quickly, passionately, immediately. Hopefully it will capture the show using a little bit of the same kind of syntax that Crouch wrote into the show.

Posted By: Jim Withington

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what is it about tba that makes people want to shave all of their hair off?

I do not think we can take full credit, or even any credit for the impulses of artists. Although it is kind of strange that several of our TBA alumni take to shearing off their hair post festival. (e.g. Nature Theater of Oklahoma TBA:06 closing night when cast members closed down the Works by taking to a makeshift stage and buzz clipping off their hipster hairdo’s).
When Vivarium Studio’s visited us in 2006 I not so secretly called company member Zinn Atmane, the “Future of Hair” (a title I had given Lone Twin in 04/05).
Lone Twin / Gary
Gary from Lone Twin was beard before beard was cool again. TBA:05
LoneTwin / Greg
So was Lone Twin, Greg. TBA:05
What is the “future of hair”? Well artists are often future forecasters of sorts and while their work often pushes at the sides of reality, so does their fashion. Vivarium Studios returned to PICA this year for the Time-Based Art Festival, and I had heard rumors that Zinn wanted to tease his q-tip coiffure into a Reggie Watts like explosion.
Reggie Watts
Reggie Watts / TBA:08 / Photo by Kenneth Aaron
Instead he returned to France and made this video.
this video.

Leesaar the Company: Geisha

Leesaardance.jpg
—Emily Katz
This show begins in silence. I hear the shuffle of people in the audience, and then we all quiet ourselves and a small young woman moves onto stage, in only jeans, with no top, completely bare chested, with an awkwardness, and then shakes her body, and then moves into a pose that looks like yoga and grins unselfconsciously at the audience. This smile makes me think of the unabashedness of youth in a world before sexuality, before self knowledge. Not that these two things go together.

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Tim Etchells – Lecture

Posted by Dusty Hoesly
Tim Etchells’ approach to theatre and art can be summed up by one question, which he repeats often during his lecture: “What are you going to do?” A thoughtful provocateur, Etchells seeks to make audiences question the nature of theatre, art, and language. Early on, he shows a slide of a neon sign he made hanging in a storefront window which reads: “Wait here I have gone to get help.” The viewer can’t help but think: who’s gone, what happened, how long will they be gone? This work is emblematic of Etchells’ interest in how language, presented in diverse media, confronts audiences and forces reactions. By seeing his work, the spectator necessarily responds, imagines, judges, and thereby participates.

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Lizzie Fitch – Salon & Big Skin

THE WORKS; The 2008 Time Based Art Festival opening night, PICA.
Lizzie Fitch/ Big Skin
9.04.08 at The Works
The 2008 Time Based Art Festival opening night, PICA.
Photo: Christine Taylor, All Rights Reserved, PICA
Posted by: Jenevive Tatiana
PICA Artist-in-Residence Lizzie Fitch joined curator Kristan Kennedy to discuss her installation in the basement space of Leftbank last week. Together they described the process by which the installation came about: Fitch brought a truckload of raw materials and semi-completed sculptures with her on a cross-country road trip, and the rest of the components trickled in through the course of the residency. The sprawling installation took shape in public view, with various people coming in and out to set up the performance space or install other art projects. Fitch noted that this was similar to her usual working environment in a large shared studio space in Philadelphia. As we stand amidst these constructions, the conversation quickly turns to her materials. Fitch’s sculptures are marked by a kind of indirectness, physical as well as conceptual: many of the components are store bought (often recognizably from Target or Ikea, with tags left dangling off), and the rest are created through a process akin to replication (her “skins” are directly molded from collaborator’s bodies). The installation commands the space, leading viewers through the maze as shoppers through aisles or visitors through a house with invisible walls.

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Zidane


Photo: Don Frank, All Rights Reserved, PICA
posted by patrick leonard
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait creates an experience difficult to describe; perhaps because it is so ambient and so abstract, it is all about impression. When I think about the film, my impressions are fragmented. Colors and textures wash over the viewer. Sounds blend into noise and then cut out altogether. Memory is interspersed with immediacy. All that remains distinguished is Zidane’s profile, superimposed against a field of stimuli. To watch the film is to experience total immersion in Zidane as the subject – his emotion and stature fills in for all narrative and content.

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Superamas!

Superamas
Big 3 rd episode
James Maxwell
The show was hot! I completely understood that the performance was exploring deep wounds such as failure and death, and the messages were done in unique ways. But I walked out of the Superamas show turned on. I mean when you put 5 shirtless guys playing guitar while the leading lady touches herself to the sounds of Nirvana the audience will get excited.
All of the scenes of the Big 3 rd episode were entertaining and kept my friends and I on the edge of our seats. The show just made me want to go out and party which is exactly what I needed on a Friday night. Later in the evening, after a few cocktails, we even tried to re-create the dance off scene but both my cousin and I pulled something while trying to imitate the high kicks.
The cast was not only very attractive but also very talented and could have kept my attention if they wanted to repeat the scene another hundred times. Even though all of the grinding and nudity were my favorite parts of the performance I have to credit to the creativity behind the car crash scene. Using only lights and sounds the creators of the episode turned a sexy dance party into an eerie and devastating situation. The on stage scene was simplistic but still very powerful.
Superamas was a rocking good time that used sexuality, repetition, humor, and vanity to showcase life messages that anyone could relate to. Oh, did I mention that the show was hot!

Superamas: BIG 3rd Episode (happy/ending)

- by Abe Ingle
“Big 3rd Episode (Happy/Ending)” is Superamas!‘ seemingly superficial attack on The Declaration’s most famous and contradictory promise, “the pursuit of happiness.” The show channel-flips between precise lip-synched performance and video work, portraying characters in mindless pursuit of happiness through pregnancy, sex, fame, and products.
The show opens with a band as its members set the stage for their self destruction with duplicitous remedies for an affair that has resulted in a pregnancy (“She wants to keep it, you know, because she’s an orphan.”*) before performing their song, “Smells like Teen Spirit,” which of course intones, “Here we are now, entertain us!”
This is followed by a conspicuously non-erotic scene inspired by Sex in the City, in which beautiful dancers disrobe repeatedly, gossiping about each others’ bodies and the dance instructors they’re fucking, “being a dancer,” one of them says, “now that’s a one-way ticket to happiness.”* This scene repeats with variations, interrupted by video clips that include an orgiastic hockey team, and a scene from “What’s New Pussycat,” in which Peter Sellers and Peter O’ Toole deny their obvious motivations for being at a strip club.

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deBord at T:BA08

posted by: Seth Nehil
“In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.” – Guy deBord, Society of the Spectacle
At the beginning of Jerome Bel’s performance, plain white lights rise on an almost empty stage and the two performers enter in street clothes to sit across from each other and talk. One could ask if Jerome and Pichet were performing as themselves, or if they were performing at all. Yes, there was a script of sorts, but no acting in the conventional sense. In this, there is a denial of performative conventions, an act of leveling which brings the performers closer to us as fully fleshed humans – Jerome and Pichet. At the same time, we still find ourselves sitting passively in theater seats, watching actions of others which take place in a defined and delimited space. Jerome described this exact problem quite well during the course of the performance, retelling his reaction to deBord’s seminal text. To paraphrase, his solution was to have a performer stand on the stage, doing nothing, to puncture the fourth wall – to produce a recognition that “I am here, you are there, there is no difference between us, we are equal.”

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Forced Entertainment – Quizoola!

Posted by Dusty Hoesly
Quizoola! is the latest of Tim Etchells’ catalogue plays, performances that provoke audiences to think about language and the nature of theatre. The text consists of a list of 2,000 questions, some personal, some debatable, some factual, some hypothetical. At any given time, one of the two performers questions the other, free to ask follow-up questions, repeat questions, or extemporize. The answers are unrehearsed. Quizoola! is also a duration play, lasting six hours. Due to the conversational tone of the piece and its unpredictability, time passes quickly, as if you were spending time with friends. As you hear the questions, you think of your own replies, react to the answerer’s responses, and want to offer follow-ups of your own. There’s this sense of wanting to tap out one actor, grab the unstapled script, and ask away, or to tap out the other actor and start answering questions yourself.

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