To help you navigate this year’s Festival, we’ll be sharing regular posts on some of the “through-lines” of this year’s program. Whether you have a particular interest in dance or site-specific projects or visual art or film, we’ve got a whole suite of projects for you to discover. So buy a pass and start making connections between this year’s artists. In this edition, we turn the lens on the unique film projects of TBA.
This year, we’re looking at film as a tool, as a medium that moves beyond the movie screen to play a central role in contemporary performance and visual practice. The filmmakers we’ve selected for TBA don’t work with celluloid and digital files in the typical way, instead looking outside of the film world for collaborators and new ideas. Meanwhile, a whole host of our performing companies incorporate innovative, real-time video and other filmic devices. So, for audiences in love with the moving picture, let’s just say we’ve got you covered.
One of our biggest opening weekend (and opening night!) projects comes from New York’s Big Art Group, pioneers of what they’ve labeled “real-time film.” In The People–Portland, the company brings together footage recorded of Portland locals during their Spring residency with live video and performance, all projected in real time on the exterior of Washington High School. It’s a bold project exploring our ideas of democracy and community, with a unique, internet-age approach to digital media.
Gob Squad (an early PICA alum) take a similarly inventive approach to film, devising complex live-streamed performances that create pure theater magic, dazzling the audiences with the charm and wit beneath their technology. In Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had it So Good), the company veils their live action behind a wall of screens, projecting their re-enactments of Warhol’s iconic 60s films in black-and-white. We won’t spoil the show, but suffice it to say, the company doesn’t completely hide behind the screens for long. The effect is wonderful.
In a very different exploration of historical documents, the Dutch artist duo Van Brummelen & De Haan re-create a controversial monument through 16mm film. Denied access to film the Pergamon frieze in Berlin (which had been “expropriated” from Turkey in the 1880s), the artists re-constructed the sculpture through hundreds of text-book photos. It’s film and photography as renegade archaeology. In a time when film technologies are so rapidly changing, it is perhaps fitting that so many of the film-based projects take an interest in the past. Bay Area filmmaker Sam Green has looked back in time to one of the most future-minded figures ever: the visionary architect, inventor, and thinker R. Buckminster Fuller. Along with indie icons Yo La Tengo, Green will stage The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a “live documentary” with a band-driven soundtrack and in-person narration about Fuller’s relentless pursuit of a better tomorrow.
While these projects all concern ideas and visions and projections on a grand scale, many of our TBA film events are rather more intimate. On THE WORKS stage, two innovative animator/puppeteers bring their charming, miniature performances to life through video projection. David Commander will perform In Flight, his biting analysis of contemporary media saturation and apathy, while Laura Heit will create diminutive worlds atop matchbox stages. Also lined up for THE WORKS, is a night of FUTURE CINEMA, curated by our friends at The Hollywood Theatre. With live performances by a group of “Terrifying Women,” some B-Movie Bingo of cult film clichés, and a new collaboration between Liz Harris (Grouper) and director Weston Currie, the night will be a far cry from the usual movie theater fare.
And in the visual program, Isabelle Cornaro approaches film as one of the many multi-valent tools of her practice. Much of Cornaro’s output exists in a sort of feedback loop of similar items and subjects reflected and re-reflected through different mediums. She sculpts architectural spaces, builds installations based on landscape paintings, and films her airbrushed paintings, only to then re-paint select frames of the resulting films. The ethereal results speak lovingly to process and medium, rather than overt subject matter; they are films and paintings about film and painting. So skip the multiplex and experience a new take on film in an age when our lives often seem to exist on screen.