Big Art Group, The People. Photo: Caden Manson.
September marks the exciting tenth anniversary of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival, and the first curated by Artistic Director Angela Mattox. Happening September 6–16, 2012, TBA is a convergence of contemporary performance and visual art in Portland, Oregon. The Festival presents dozens of emerging talents and legacy artists from around the world, and particularly champions those individuals who challenge traditional forms and work across mediums. TBA activates the city landscape with projects that bring artists and audiences into close proximity. Itinerant programs fill warehouses, theaters, and city streets with exhibits and performances, while a full schedule of workshops, talks, and late-night socializing offers outlets for the crowds to cross and mingle.
“As a curator, I love when mediums and styles collide,” says Mattox, “and the projects in this year’s Festival are firmly interdisciplinary, often moving between theater, video, movement, and music in a single piece. It is a reflection of current artist practices and of our own desire to have audiences move fluidly between these experiences.” But it is not just the profusion of forms that makes TBA such a uniquely contemporary platform; the Festival also focuses on presenting work that directly addresses the complexity of our current moment. TBA reflects on what it means to be human in today’s times, while also celebrating the creativity and imagination with which artists respond to our circumstances.
The performances this fall reflect both epic themes of democracy, community, and freedom of speech, as well as deeply personal issues around identity, home, and exile. Among the many ideas carried between works in the Festival, there is a strong through-line that looks at art as a mode for social and political activism. Keith Hennessy, Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, and Laurie Anderson all present bold new projects that are informed by historical legacy and significant contemporary events. Mattox affirms that, “Art has an important role in advancing culture and reflecting our aspirations for society; TBA supports those artists making an impact in their communities with their work.”
“Given that TBA:12 is our tenth anniversary, I thought deeply about which artists PICA should present,” Mattox remarks. “I wanted to support a few alumni artists, whose work continues to challenge and inspire new audiences, but I also wanted to make sure to introduce new practitioners to Portland and build audiences for a new generation of artists.” PICA is committed to supporting artists over the arc of their professional trajectories by inviting audiences to deeply engage with their work and follow their careers as they develop. To that end, TBA welcomes back legacy artists including Laurie Anderson, Faustin Linyekula, Gob Squad, and Miguel Gutierrez, while presenting the first local engagements by Big Art Group, chelftisch, Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, and Nora Chipaumire.
Nora Chipamuire, MIRIAM. Photo: Anotine Tempe.
Between these and other artists, the projects in this year’s Festival hail from Mexico, Japan, Croatia and Serbia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Germany, Zimbabwe, and across the US. “TBA is a unique platform for a diversity of practices and perspectives to thrive,” explains Mattox, “and I want to place Portland in a larger international cultural conversation.” These projects all introduce our local community to the richness of work being created around the globe, while also speaking to local concerns and realities. According to Mattox: “We like to say that TBA is a globally minded festival that is firmly grounded in Portland—the artists may live around the world, but their projects are only realized through the participation of Portland’s artists and audiences.”
Embodying this approach, TBA:12 features several projects that directly connect with locals in the very process of their creation. Big Art Group’s The People—Portland and Keith Hennessy’s Turbulence (a dance about the economy) will both be developed through residencies here in town this spring, and Ant Hampton & Tim Etchell’s The Quiet Volume—a site-specific performance in a public library—is only realized through the direct involvement of its two-person audience. These artists have thoughtfully re-considered the relationships between their art and its audiences; their works are emblematic of TBA as a Festival that reframes our daily experiences through the lens of today’s boldest artistic talents.
BIG ART GROUP, THE PEOPLE—PORTLAND
With their unmistakable brand of transgressive internet-age aesthetics, Big Art Group broaches themes of democracy, justice, and community in an outdoor spectacle of theater and large-scale video projection. Blending real-time film, live actors, and a video “chorus” of interviews with a cross-section of Portlanders, The People—Portland forms a census of the city at this moment and pushes the formal boundaries of theater and film.
ANT HAMPTON & TIM ETCHELLS, THE QUIET VOLUME
THEATER, UK [US PREMIER]
A self-generated ‘automatic’ performance for two at a time, exploring the strange magic at the heart of reading. Taking cues from words both written and whispered through headphones, the two audience members/participants follow an unlikely path through a pile of books, as outlined by “autoteatro” pioneer Ant Hampton, and artist/writer Tim Etchells.
Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, Asalto al Agua Transparente. Photo: Juan Leduc.
LAGARTIJAS TIRADAS AL SOL, EL RUMOR DEL INCENDIO &
ASALTO AL AGUA TRANSPARENTE
THEATER, MEXICO [US PREMIER]
The young Mexican theater collective presents two politically-charged performances at TBA, blending documentary and drama. In El Rumor del Incendio, the company explores the history of their radical revolutionary forebears in 60s Mexico, reigniting the social critiques of an earlier generation. Asalto al Agua Transparente goes back even further in history, exploring the stark water issues of Lake Texcoco from the Aztec founding of Tenochitlan to the modern day Meixco-city.
MIGUEL GUTIERREZ, HEAVENS WHAT HAVE I DONE
One of the most provocative choreographers of the New York scene, Gutierrez weaves a rambling and comic monologue that unspools into a bold and ferocious dance. Set to music sung by renowned soprano Cecilia Bartoli, HEAVENS WHAT HAVE I DONE exposes the high personal stakes of artistic practice.
NORA CHIPAUMIRE, MIRIAM
DANCE, ZIMBABWE/US [WORLD PREMIER]
In MIRIAM, Zimbabwe-born, New York-based choreographer Nora Chipaumire creates a deeply personal dance featuring herself and dancer Okwui Okpokwasili. Taking her name from the mother of Jesus; the sister of Aaron and Moses; and the South African singer, activist, and icon Miriam Makeba, MIRIAM explores the tensions that women face between public expectations and private desires and the perfection and sacrifice of the feminine ideal.
KOTA YAMAZAKI/FLUID HUG-HUG, (GLOWING)
Famed butoh choreographer Kota Yamazaki has collaborated with six dancers from Japan, Senegal, Ethiopia, and the US on a new performance that blends traditional and avant-garde forms from across cultures. The work evokes classical Japanese aesthetics and the subtle interplay of light and shadow, as inspired by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s famous essay “In Praise of Shadows.”
PERFORATIONS: NEW PERFORMANCE FROM THE BALKANS
Zvonimir Dubrović, founder of Perforacije and Queer Zagreb Festivals, has selected an evening of site-speciﬁc performance art from some Croatia and Serbia’s most provocative young artists. Writer and multimedia artist Biljana Kosmogina, performer Petra, and experimental music duo East Rodeo explore the contemporary issues of Balkan life and reveal the latest generation of artists from the region.
SAM GREEN & YO LA TENGO,
THE LOVE SONG OF R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER
A “live documentary” from filmmaker Sam Green exploring futurist, architect, engineer, and inventor Buckminster Fuller’s utopian vision of radical social change through a design revolution. With a live score from experimental indie band Yo La Tengo, the film draws inspiration equally from old travelogues, the Benshi tradition, and internet TEDtalks.
Gob Squad, Gob Squad’s Kitchen — You’ve Never Had it So Good. Photo: David Baltzer.
GOB SQUAD, GOB’S SQUAD’S KITCHEN — YOU’VE NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD
Gob Squad takes a trip back to the underground cinemas of New York to re-create Andy Warhol’s Kitchen (along with Eat, Sleep, and Screen Test), a film that somehow encapsulated all of the hedonistic experimental energy of the swinging sixties. Live actors cross in and out of the films and audience.
HOT PEPPER, AIR CONDITIONER, AND THE FAREWELL SPEECH
Three vignettes track the absurd and mundane stories of a group of office employees in this stylized performance from the renowned Japanese theater company chelfitsch. With a unique choreography derived from everyday gestures, the company references the social and cultural characteristics of today’s Japan, not least of Tokyo, making distinctive mark on contemporary Japanese performance.
FAUSTIN LINYEKULA, LE CARGO
DANCE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO [US PREMIER]
Legacy, forgetting, and memory form a confluence of forces in the work of choreographer Faustin Linyekula, whose performances are indelibly etched by the experiences of his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Linyekula bears witness through his dance to decades of war, terror, and fear, while also subverting the dominant image of contemporary Congo with one of resourcefulness and hope.
Faustin Linyekula, Le Cargo. Photo: Agathe Poupeney.
KEITH HENNESSY, TURBULENCE (A DANCE ABOUT THE ECONOMY)
DANCE, US [WORLD PREMIER]
Bay Area choreographer Keith Hennessy gathers an international ensemble cast to respond to the global economic crisis at the level of the dancing body. The work evolves through improvisation and collaboration; in Portland, a group of guest artists will join and de-stabilize the performance, offering new movements, images, and strategies that explore failure as practice, crisis as movement, and queer as tactic.
VOICES AND ECHOES FROM JAPAN
Acclaimed artist and musician Aki Onda has organized a rare concert from some of the pioneering forces of Japan’s avant-garde sound and music scene. Sound artist Akio Suzuki, experimental poet Gôzô Yoshimasu, and improvisatory guitarist/turntablist Otomo Yoshihide present a range of performances that cross between literature, sound art, music, and improvisation. Together, these ground-breaking artists will invite the audience to reconsider their relationship to sound and the act of listening.
LAURIE ANDERSON, DIRTDAY!
In honor of the tenth anniversary of the TBA Festival, legendary musician and artist Laurie Anderson performs Dirtday!, the third and final of her groundbreaking solo story works. With signature wit and candor, Anderson engages with the politics of the Occupy movement, theories of evolution, families, history, and animals in this riotous and soulful collection of songs and stories.
VISUAL ART AT THE TBA FESTIVAL
Visual Art Curator Kristan Kennedy has gathered together a group of international artists for End Things, a series of projects and residencies that reflect on “things”—why we make them, why we keep them, and their place in our lives. With an irreverent attitude toward the delineations between mediums, the participating artists shift easily between forms and exist in multiple states at the same time. End Things is work made for the End Times, for an auspicious year such as 2012 when we ask, “But what does it all mean?” Featuring new commissions and residency projects from Alex Cecchetti (Italy), Isabelle Cornaro (France), Claudia Meza (US), Morgan Ritter (US), and Erika Vogt (US).
TBA’s all-access, no-holds-barred, late-night social club returns for another year of exciting performance and music. From drag rap artists to toy-theater shows to a blacklight cooking demonstration, THE WORKS is a fertile stage for experimentation and raucous fun. Over beers and snacks from local food carts, it is the place to meet artists and other audiences and to debate and discuss all the art of the day. Including performances by Thu Tran & Food Party, Parenthetical Girls, BRAINSTORM, Alexis Blair Penney, David Commander, Laura Heit, CHRISTEENE, and more to be announced.
For more details, visit pica.org. Stay tuned for the full listings of all of the artist projects, visual installations, and THE WORKS. Pass sales begin online in June; individual tickets available in July.