T:BA:07 Day Eleven – Sunday, 16 September 2007
This just might be the last of the bLogs. It has been fun attending yet another year’s T:BA Festival, jotting down some thoughts, and hearing responses both in person and via this site. I must say though, it has been interesting on a sociological level that most of the bLog comments are quite negative, even though the in-person communication has been quite positive, intelligent and thought provoking.
I also find it interesting that people seem to mostly react with passion when I ‘dare’ to say something negative about an artist or performance. Fascinating! Even when I try to paint a context, to frame a negative criticism within the comfy nest of the many other wonderful aspects of the rest of the show, or the rest of the artist’s intentions, people seem to just latch onto that one bad / juicy morsel, and freak out.
C’est la vie.
I have no intention of starting to lie or pander. If you hate my work, please tell me, but also please tell me why, so that I may then improve what I am doing, and take your intelligent thoughts into consideration for my next endeavor.
Right, onto covering the last day of PICA’s T:BA Festival…
9:30a Zoe Scofield Workshop, Conduit
11:00a Cartune Xprez, Living Room Theater
12:30p Moving Images, PNCA
1:30p Affair, Jupiter Hotel
3:00p Elevator Repair Service, Imago
8:30p Claude Wampler, Gerding Armory
10:30p Some Cats from Japan, Wonder
1:00a John Carpenter Band [secret performance]
The day started with a dance workshop, which has become a really fun way to begin. I might start going through withdrawal now that T:BA is over and need to start taking classes with someone. Anyone have any suggestions?
Zoe, Christiana Axelsen and Allison van Dyck were at Conduit to convey some of the methodology that they use to inspire and inform their dance troupe. Zoe took the lead, and Christiana and Allison just faded back into the horde of participants. Basically what we did was to think not about flowing full-body movement, but to allow a finger, wrist, elbow, or shoulder to inform out movement and dictate it. Keeping yourself still, relax your body and mind,… Now, bend a finger, not the entire hand, just the finger. Feel the relationship between that finger and the rest of your hand, the rest of your body. Now, move from your wrist. Not the entire arm, don’t bend your elbow, just your wrist. But, keep that finger, which you moved earlier in the same relative position to the rest of your hand. Try it again. Move your wrist in a different direction, keeping that finger / hand relationship pure and undisturbed. Now try moving your elbow, not the wrist, finger or hand. They are to stay in place, relatively. If it helps, start thinking of your body as a series of servo’s like C3PO in Star Wars, you are only moving on set at a time, and all of the other bodily relationships are staying fixed. Keep going, try some more movement, now don’t let the limitations of ‘range of movement’ impeded you. Move your finger, move it so that it guides your entire body. Imagine a cable attached to your finger. As you move it, it stretches forward, first pulling your hand, then your wrist, arm, perhaps your entire body. Like a marionette, that pulling upon your finger could lift you through space like the marionettes in the film “Being John Malkovich”. As your finger is pulled, as the motion is translated through the other joints of your body, which are affected, which are not and therefore stay the same. If one of the area does not change, then the ghost imprint of the earlier movement stays strong. It is this play between ghosts and impetus that informs their work.
We then worked as partners, moving each other, one part at a time, like one of those little wooden figures you can buy at Utrecht with ball joints to allow articulation.
It is a simple idea, but a beautiful one.
Often it is the must subtle of things that is most powerful.
Thank you Zoe, Christiana and Allison.
The dance workshop finished up just after 11am, so I could have rushed over to the Livingroom Theater for Cartune Xprez, but I was more motivated by the prospect of yummy food, as I had not yet eaten. So, to Blossoming Lotus I went. YUM!
Today’s PNCA Noon:30 was with Aki Onda and Fuyuki Yamakawa. Pablo de Ocampo moderated, which was wonderful, but also sad as a reminder that he no longer lives in Portland; as he is not the artistic director of the Images Festival in Toronto. I do miss having Pablo’s vision and quiet wisdom in town. Aki showed some of the ‘memory stills’ and ‘memory sounds’ that he samples to fill the void in his life. Having re-emerged from depression, he is greatly interested in that which might otherwise become forgotten, and using these ‘memories’ as a basis for his work. [More later at the Works.]
Fuyuki Yamakawa discussed the technical and biofeedback meditations he does with his heart music. The discussion group was concerned about the gimmicky nature of their work, and wanted to know about the potential for either type-casting, or just having a cool toy that people want to see. This is something that “That One Guy, musical alchemist” and the more famous “Blue Man Group” often have to struggle with. Do you want to get famous and ‘sell-out’ for your gimmick, or do you want to become respected for your creative process and exploratory vision? No one, well mostly no one, wants to be a one hit wonder; but just getting that first hit, let alone being able to sustain it for a life-time artistic career, is very difficult. Many ‘famous’ artists died penniless in gutters, and were not ‘discovered’ until later. Dickson’s path aside, I still think we should focus upon process and artistic journeys that span a lifetime. [Please note, I only know about what they discussed here, and the pieces they presented at the Works. I’m mostly writing about the conversation that group had during the Noon:30 chat, and not making a critique of the artists themselves.]
Have a little time before Gatz was to begin, I headed over to the Jupiter Hotel to see the Affair. This is a wonderful annual event that was started by envisioned by Stuart Horodner, formerly with PICA, now with the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. This was not a T:BA event, but out of respect PICA was kind enough to list it. I was impressed with some of the work from Quality Pictures [www.qpca.com], which is a gallery at 916 NW Hoyt right here in Portland. Funny, that with galleries from all around the country, that I was drawn to the work from one here in town. Quite unexpected.
The lovely bonus was that I had a chance to sit down with Gary Wiseman and chat for a bit. I had missed his three T:BA tea parties, and was thrilled to find him at the end of the walkway with a few cups of tea and sesame treats. He is a really nice guy, and I am looking forward to having many more conversations with him. He simply wants to help people start having genuine and sincere relationships, and it all begins with the first conversation.
We also were able to speak about the temporality of the universe, specifically in relation to some of the pieces that he is currently creating. I told him a bit about a project out Japan called “Shinkenchiku” and some of the ideas that I mused upon for an earlier response to the project, but I will just let the reader do some follow-up if they are interested, and not lengthen this posting unnecessarily.
Look, I’m trying to be a ‘better’ bLogger…
3pm, time to get a drink, eat a snack, pee, or whatever else you need to do before sitting down for a seven-hour performances. OK, so going in, I knew that I was not going to be able to stay for the full thing, as I had a reservation for Claude Wampler, so I knew I had a ‘way out’ if it got too bad. But it wasn’t. This is another one of those pleasant T:BA surprises.
Mark Russell has been raving about Elevator Repair Service’s “Gatz” all week. My expectations were low, as I tend to not connect much the theater pieces, but in I went.
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of those books that I read when I was a kid, and I remember enjoying it. Elevator Repair Service did a wonderful rendition of the work, being quite inventive, interpretive and intelligent about how to translate the work into a contemporary setting. I did enjoy their show, or at least the four hours worth that I witnessed, but I had to make a choice, and even though I saw the play starting to evolve into something with a great energy and personality, I did not feel that I was going to “WOW” me, so I decided to keep to my original plan, and head over to Claude’s piece.
Claude Wampler’s work is something that I have heard rumors about, and was quite interested in. Plus, as I was having a bit of dinner before heading over to the show, a number of things crystallized in my mind…
1) Claude spoke about her work being contrived, and full of rigged drama in the Noon:30 chat;
2) Linda Austin had posted a request for performers back in July, and when I had cross-referenced the rehearsal schedule, I realized that it had to be for Claude’s piece;
3) PICA, I had thought, was only taking thirty reservations for each show….
Now, before I got to the Gerding Theater, I thought that the show was going to be upstairs where we had just seen Marc Bamuthi Joseph. That’s a 300 person theater. If PICA only took thirty reservations, then there were going to be 270 plants. THAT’S INSANE!!! Ok, so that cannot be the case. To give T:BA passes to 270 performers would be an in-kind cost of thousands, and certainly out of the budget for the performance.
What if a fire alarm goes off during the show?
Should I get up and exit the building in an orderly manner, or would it be part of the show?
I do not know, but I do know that I did enter the space in the heightened paranoia that Claude was speaking about the other day in the Noon:30 chat.
I got there a bit early.
When I arrived at the Gerding, I looked around, and remembered that it was a brand new space, and that the management would probably not allow anything really crazy to happen. No infernos were going to consume us, no bulldozers were going to come crashing through the wall… what then was the twist going to be?
Much like Liz Haley’s piece, the audience became the show. We were not watching the work enfold, Liz and Claude were watching us. We were their entertainment, their rats running the maze to an end we did not know.
They held off for a bit in letting us inside, suggesting that we go elsewhere for a snack or drink, which is strange since they have a coffee bar right there in the space. But, when I got downstairs, I started to understand why. While I was waiting, once they opened up the rope, I saw about a half dozen folks head downstairs, but when I got down there, there were a good two dozen folks. The paranoia was kicking in.
I saw a new friend of mine from the dance workshops, and I went to chat with her. She was wearing a brace on her leg, which certainly was not there earlier in the day, so I asked, as I was concerned, “What happened?” She told me about a rehearsal she has after our workshop with Zoe, and that she had rolled her ankle. It was going to be at least a month before she could get back to the rehearsals and can continue dancing. We spoke for a while, and I related stories about other dancer friends whom had rushed their recovery, and then had recurring injuries. “It is best to baby yourself a bit, and not rush things”, I said. The ushers opened the doors, and let us in with the caveat that it was a one-way door, and once exiting, you would not be re-admitted.
OK, let the games begin.
I went in, and promptly headed straight for the back row. I wanted to watch the audience, as I knew they were going to be part of the show, or the full show, depending upon how you look at it. Perfect, back row, center, full view of it all!
Crowd comes in, I start counting heads.
There are some ninety people there.
WOW, sixty plants, that’s quite a commitment for PICA!
A really tall guy sits down next to me, and starts chatting right away.
He just won’t stop, chatting with me, chatting with the fellow on the other side of him, he just keeps going. But, I want to stay focused, I want to figure this thing out. Where are the smoke and mirrors, what is the secret code behind all of the magic.
They guy next to me keeps going, so I start thinking, “ok, so this guy is a ‘talker’ plant”… what are the other roles that are being played out there.
A projector comes one, and a polar bear costumed person saunters across the stage. Kinda cute, in a kitschy way.
Then three more bodies appear, light and smoke merge to create holographic personas that we can watch working out a new music piece. It is entertaining, but just takes a long time.
Well, as their momentum starts to build, this guy flicks on his lighter. Oh, he has got to be a plant!
Then more people with lighters. Some people get up and leave, the crowd hisses at them, more band practice, more chit chat in the audience, it is getting very informal in the space, I’m watching a social transformation. People laugh at things that are kinda funny, but not really. People start talking with each other, the guy next to me is trying to strike-up a music history dialogue with the other fellow on his other side, as he has realized that I just refuse to give-in to his role. A lady in the front is swaying her arm, like a good Portland hippy chick [just a descriptor, not a slam] ready to dance with the least of a bass line, the intensity grows.
The ‘real’ band emerges. It is Johnny Carpenter, straight from NYC! Cool!
Johnny is wearing silver undies, and looking quite cute.
The crowd erupts. People are singing along, dancing in the aisles, it is all just too much.
I catch a glimpse of Claude standing in the back corner, puffed up and with a head mic like a roadie or bouncer. I keep one eye on her.
The ‘show’ ends. And people leave, but some stay behind.
I want to stay, I am waiting for that fifteen minute solo that she spoke about with the dogs in the back of another show.
There are some minimal things.
A lady picks up the polar bear head that is sitting upon the floor, places in over her head, and does a few dance steps.
Someone goes to head back stage, to talk with their friends in the band, and Claude grabs her and tosses her back as any good bouncer would do.
Then, that seems to be it.
Some people come in and start breaking down the set.
Some others are cleaning up the seats.
But, Claude is still down there.
I’m watching her, it is over, is she just watching the end of the piece with a sense of satisfaction.
I figure I’ll just go talk to her.
“Thank you, I enjoyed the show”… “Those cigarette lighter people had to be plants”
“No, it was a genuine response by the audience”, Claude says.
Tonight was the last night of the show.
I had reserved my ticket just so that I could be there at the end.
If it was really to be the end of her artistic career, I wanted to see the last hurrah.
As I exited, still watching the people around me with inquiry, as was the show really over?
I checked my watch, and it was 9:30. The show was scheduled to be an hour, so it might have really been done. But, I just want not sure.
When I got up to the ground level, I saw some friends whom are Gerding staff getting ready to leave, so I figured that it was really over, that I could relax and just start chatting with folks. And lucky me, the group of ladies I met up with were discussing the predicament and beauty of menopause. Ah, yep, back in reality.
Well, the ‘plants’ were getting together, as it was the last show, and they were going to go celebrate. I did not know whom they all were, but I knew that Linda was the conductor, so I followed her to the group. My friend in the brace was not wearing it any longer… She was a plant too?!?!?! What the #$^&*(!
The lady in front of me with the great swaying pants, she too was one of the plants.
And the lady with the el-wire headband, I thought she was just a burner still glowing from the playa.
Yeah, the guy next to me was one of the plants, that I expected, but the guy he was annoying on the other side of him, whom I thought was as genuine as myself, he was a plant too!
Oh, and the guy that started the lighter thing, whom I assumed was a plant from the get-go, he wasn’t. He was just a drunk guy that was hitting on a lady whom actually was a plant. How’s that for irony!
Oh my goodness, it was brilliant!
Claude, you might be right, to create something ‘real’ it might need to be completely contrived!
It would be amazing to get inside of Claude’s head, because she seems to keep her cards close; but that is the nature of her creative vision. She has to keep other in the dark.
Thank you Claude.
One last night at the Works to see some cats from Japan. Aki Onda and Fuyuki Yamakawa I had heard speak about their work earlier in the day. But, Atsuhiro Ito and Kanta Horio were still unknowns.
Fuyuki Yamakawa I really liked. He was the one that earlier spoke about amping his heart sounds with a midi connection of light strobes. It was very cool, intense, and visceral.
I was not so into the other three performers. Kanto Horio’s electromagnetic work was interesting for a few moments, but no more impressive to me then when I started playing with that stuff as a kid. Mind you, the sounds for a disc of metal tossed upon a resonant surface and spinning to flat is one of my favorite sounds, right up there where the drawing a sword out of a scabbard, but the duration lost my attention. Atsuhiro’s piece with the light tube was interesting, and I really enjoyed it on one level, but as it seemed that the light was midi’d to the bass, and not the other way around, I lost interest on a higher level. I thought he was going to ‘play’ the light, but it was just schtick. Good music though. Aki’s work was fun, and with his images could have been much more theatrical, but he chose to stand quietly upon the stage while his mix pummeled.
I enjoyed the intensity of the three ‘loud’ piece, but having one of those ear plug vending machines that they have over at Mt.Tabor might have been nice.
Is the night over, is there more?
Yes, there is.
But, much in Claude Wampler’s vein, after much of the crowd left, Mark Russell got on stage, did a few thank you’s and then introduced the John Carpenter Band. It was great. Like when you purchase a CD and there is a secret track at the end of the play, which you were not expecting.
A bunch of us cleared ways all of the chairs and a little dance floor was filled up with people. Mostly the plants from Claude’s show, and a few PICA staffers, we had a great time! Even ended the night with a little pillow fight before they toss all of us out.
- – - THE END – - -
[time to get some sleep, and clean the house…]
Fredrick H. Zal
Architect | Sculptor | Advocate
an.architecture and industrial design studio
advocating dialogue in the fine + applied arts
Prior ‘Day in the Life’ Posts:
Day 01 – Opening Night;
Fredrick’s Best to Worst:
Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Marc Bamuthi Joseph Workshop
Randee Paufve Workshop
Mirah & Spetratone International
The Suicide Kings
Zoe Scofield & Juniper Shuey
Ten Tiny Dances
Young Jean Lee’s Theatre Co.
Mammalian Diving Reflex Haircut
Guido va der Werve
Cloud Eye Control / Anna Oxygen
John Carpenter Band
Sara Greenberger Rafferty Workshop
Hip Hop 101 Workshop
Zoe Scofield Workshop
Donna Uchizono Workshop
Elevator Repair Service
Vanden Eynde & Vendendriessche
Portland Cello Project
Some Cats from Japan
Could have missed it and not cried too much:
Urban Honking Workshop
Sara Greenberger Rafferty
Fred Frith / Zeena Parkins / Ikue Mori
Really sucked [for me, remember you might think something completely otherwise…]:
Las Chicas del 3.5 Floppies