Title Based Art

Sorted Books
Nina Katchadourian, Sorted Books
Posted by Michael Evans
As learned in grade school, you can’t judge a book by looking just at its cover. However, apparently you can get a lot more mileage out of its title than previously imagined.

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TBA OUTLOOK/LOOK OUT: Emily Johnson/Catalyst

In the lead-up to the 2010 Time-Based Art Festival, Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will be posting about some of the artists, projects, and ideas that inspire her in this year’s program. Our final week of preview coverage (we really are that close!) focuses on the personal histories and global displacement presented in Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s The Thank-you Bar.
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Emily Johnson, The Thank-you Bar. Photo: Jamie Lang.
Contemporary art encompasses a vast diversity of media, theories, and aesthetics. And yet, the “arts of our time” still share some distinctive and common concerns; intimacy, physical scale, localism, and close connection between art and viewer are especially resonant for many contemporary artists. In seeming opposition, many artists today also share a commitment to investigating personal identity in the context of globalization and post-colonialism. Emily Johnson’s The Thank-you Bar is a hybrid dance-music-storytelling experience that engages with exactly these two contemporary interests: the global and the local/personal.

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TBA OUTLOOK/LOOK OUT: In the Solitude of Cotton Fields

In the lead-up to the 2010 Time-Based Art Festival, Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will be posting about some of the artists, projects, and ideas that inspire her in this year’s program. Week four of our preview coverage focuses on the emotionally raw and raucous In the Solitude of Cotton Fields, directed for TBA:10 by Poland’s Radek Rychcik.
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Stefan Zeromski Theatre, In the Solitude of Cotton Fields. Photo: Maciek Zorawiecki.
In the Solitude of Cotton Fields, written by the French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltès, serves as powerful and raw material for the young Polish director Radoslaw Rychcik’s imaginative and physical sensibility. This smart, visceral production of Poland’s Stefan Zeromski Theatre is part club happening, part punk concert, part poetic meditation. Anchoring this densely kinetic experience are the bravura performances of two stand-out actors: Tomas Nosinski and Wojciech Niemczyk. When I saw the production in Krakow, Poland, last winter, I left the theater exulting in the energy and the all-out commitment of these performers: enigmatic young frontmen who can dance, act, sing, and convincingly bare their souls to one another and to the audience. Staged with live music by the Krakow post-punk band Natural Born Chillers, this is a provocative, brilliantly conceived performance.

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TBA OUTLOOK/LOOK OUT: John Jasperse

In the lead-up to the 2010 Time-Based Art Festival, Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will be posting about some of the artists, projects, and ideas that inspire her in this year’s program. Week three focuses on the clever and captivating dances of John Jasperse, who will perform Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, and Flat Out Lies at TBA:10.
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Photo: Sylvio Dittrich

To a curator, there are invariably a small group of artists whom one might name as an inspiration for entering the field of promoting art. For me, John Jasperse is one of those artists. When I first came to New York and was introduced to the downtown dance world in the late 1980s, I was fortunate enough to encounter John immediately. He was just back from Europe (working with Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker) and, at that time, was performing with Jennifer Monson and creating his own dances. When I saw his work, I felt as if I was in an art gallery, and the dancers, their actions, and the physical environment of his mysterious objects and people profoundly affected me. If I had been asked to talk about the impact or the importance of John’s work, at that point I might not have had the language to do so. But I certainly was moved, even thrilled, by the unfolding situation that was at once inscrutable, so odd as to be almost funny, and formally very compelling.

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TBA OUTLOOK/LOOK OUT: Maria Hassabi

In the lead-up to the 2010 Time-Based Art Festival, Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will be posting about some of the artists, projects, and ideas that inspire her in this year’s program. Week two highlights the grace and intensity of dancer and choreographer Maria Hassabi, who will perform SoloShow at TBA:10.
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Maria Hassabi, SoloShow. Photo: Jason Schmidt.
Maria Hassabi’s SoloShow is at once dizzyingly abstract and solidly material in nature. The sculptural quality of her body and the platform on which she appears–which seems almost bronze in its burnished heaviness and severity–speaks of the manifestly physical, of weight and shape and muscle and object. Simultaneously, an energy shimmers around her as she creates an aura of intense concentration, illuminating a complete struggle of the mind to master the body. As Hassabi investigates movement and mental states, she pays marked attention to her presence and the activation of space. In turn, I see the body struggle fiercely to manifest the images of women in our culture, as well as the ghosts of cultures past. External plasticity and the weight of the object are contrasted with internal will, vulnerability, fragility, and effort. These are the tensions of Soloshow.

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TBA OUTLOOK/LOOK OUT: Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland

In the lead-up to the 2010 Time-Based Art Festival, Artistic Director Cathy Edwards will be posting about some of the artists, projects, and ideas that inspire her in this year’s program. She’ll start off her preview posts with her discovery of Conor Lovett of the Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland, who will perform two works during the first half of TBA:10.
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Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland, First Love. Photo: Ros Kavanagh.

When I began putting together the program for TBA:10, one project in particular lived with me from the start. I first encountered the Gare St. Lazare Players in Dublin in the fall of 2008, when I met Conor Lovett at an international theater meeting. Lovett had a spare and observant manner, a self-effacing demeanor, and a certain glint in his eye that spoke of boundless knowledge and commitment. His presence led me to accept an invitation to an 11 am showing of his Beckett work at Dublin’s Project Art Centre (though I confess I had no identifiable desire to revisit Samuel Beckett). After watching his performance of Beckett’s First Love, I was changed. I had a deeper and more complex understanding of theater; of Beckett’s writing; and of the depth of craft, preparation, and commitment that is involved in staging an encounter between body and language, between actor and material. This wonderfully influential experience convinced me that it would be fundamental to bring Lovett and the Gare St. Lazare Players to Portland and the TBA Festival.

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Subject:fwd:re:re:re:fwd:re:re:fwd:re:re:re:fwd:re:re:

Beginning June 5, the thirteen graduating students of Portland State’s MFA program will exhibit their work as GROWN UPS. For their exhibition catalog, the class approached three local art-scene thinkers: writer Camela Raymond, artist and PNCA Curator Mack McFarland, and PICA’s own Kristan Kennedy. Their answers became an email chain train-of-thought about the essential qualities of art, Portland’s relationship to the broader art world, the realities of the market, and the biggest issue of all: what it means to grow up.
From the catalog:

Kristan Kennedy: [...] If I was at gunpoint at this moment and had to describe what qualities I would defend, I might say that the work must be brave, defiant, confusing, inspired, unapologetic (wait is that the same as defiant?), personal and it must rest somewhere between ugly and beautiful with an edge that makes one at once uncomfortable (queasy) and at the same time at peace (with mind engaged, but body rendered still).

You can download the full text (PDF) of their conversation here.

PICA ANNOUNCES THE 2010 TIME-BASED ART FESTIVAL

TBA:10 FESTIVAL LINEUP VIDEO, Courtesy of Dustin Zemel.
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual Time-Based Art Festival (TBA) draws artists from across the country and around the globe for a convergence of contemporary performance, dance, music, new media, and visual arts projects in Portland, Oregon. Entering its eighth year, the TBA Festival is presented September 9-19, 2010, with visual art installations running through the following month. TBA celebrates artists from across and in-between all mediums, and activates the entire community with art and ideas.
PICA presents a festival that bridges disciplines and geography with morning workshops, daytime installations, noontime lectures, afternoon salons, evening performances, outdoor happenings, and no shortage of late-night activity. Contemporary masters and significant emerging artists mix and mingle to bring you the best art of our time.
“This year,” says Guest Artistic Director Cathy Edwards, “TBA engages with some of the revolutionary creative thinkers who have indelibly altered the fabric of art-making and the definition of contemporary performance.” This includes new works that deal with the legacies and impacts of such influential figures as Samuel Beckett, choreographer Merce Cunningham, Elizabeth LeCompte and The Wooster Group, William Shakespeare, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Curated by Edwards, in collaboration with Performing Arts Program Director Erin Boberg Doughton and Visual Arts Program Director Kristan Kennedy, the Festival artists will include:

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NEA Awards PICA $105,000 for TBA:10!


TBA:09 Audiences for 2009 NEA Masterpieces Grant Recipient Erik Friedlander.
Photo: Wayne Bund.

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) is the proud recipient of three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in support of the 2010 Time-Based Art Festival! These awards recognize the artistic excellence and community impact of PICA’s Festival programming. The NEA granted funding to PICA in the following fields:
CATEGORY: Access to Artistic Excellence
FIELD/DISCIPLINE: Presenting
$50,000

To support the Time-Based Art Festival and related educational activities. The ten-day festival will feature local, national, and international artists working in dance, theater, music, visual art, film, and multidisciplinary forms.
CATEGORY: American Masterpieces
FIELD/DISCIPLINE: Presenting
$35,000

To support the presentation of The Wooster Group’s THERE IS STILL TIME..BROTHER, an installation/performance work. Activities of this project will be part of the 2010 Time-Based Art Festival.
CATEGORY: Access to Artistic Excellence
FIELD/DISCIPLINE: Dance
$20,000

To support the presentation of dance artists John Jasperse Company and Jérôme Bel. In partnership with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the presentations will take place at the Time-Based Art Festival in Portland, Oregon, and the Philadelphia Live Art Festival in Philadelphia.
Thank you NEA! We’ll announce our full TBA:10 lineup this coming week, so stay tuned for your first look at September’s Festival…

All of your friends were there: 2010 and beyond, Part 2 – The Armory + The End

Part Two of Kristan Kennedy’s wrap-up of Spring Art Fair season in New York:
The Armory Show, Fair, Thing – whatever you want to call it is almost impossible to get to. Perched on Pier 92 and 94 around 55th Ave it is the only time you see so many well-heeled patrons flowing across the West-side highway. Everything about this thing seems unnatural. All of these galleries have spaces elsewhere with white walls, bathrooms, and mini fridges stocked with yogurt and champagne but, instead of operating from home base, they move a whole bunch of stuff, plus staff down here, setting up temporary shop in tiny stalls with nary a bottle of water in sight. Roaming the aisles takes stamina and precision. The maze that is before us is daunting, still we take it on like seasoned pros, employing the “supermarket” technique walking down the long corridors of art wares one-by-one, while trying not to deviate when we see some shiny Anish Kapoor across the way.
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Photo courtesy of Ambach and Rice
Within our first few steps, we run into some familiar faces. Charlie Kitchings – owner and operator of Ambach & Rice in Seattle – and Carrie Scott are here and their booth does not disappoint. First up some are simple and stunning Roy McMakin photos, in which begonias are perfectly positioned to accentuate their spatial planes, flattening each angle from front-to-back. A few years ago, on a trip to Seattle, Jeffry Mitchell was driving me around wooing me with exquisite conversation and delightfully tangential adventures. On that visit we stopped in to a shop in Chinatown and bought an aquarium and Jeffry schooled me on goldfish, we dug through drawings in his studio and he pulled out a great John Wesley catalog and we talked about cartoons… AND, at the mention that I had been getting really into house plants, he whipped the car around mid-block, called up his friend McMakin and asked if we could break into his studio while he was out of town. A few moments later we were at McMakin’s workshop, and there was no need to break in, as his assistants were happy to let us enter. Suddenly, I was in front of the most artfully arranged jumble of Begonias; in the next room, pinned to the wall in what seemed like one hundred different combinations, were photos of the same plants. Now, finally standing in front of the completed series I am taken by their super-refined edges and can not help but think of all of the tiny decisions that had been made from start to finish.
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Not to be outdone by all of the art, the gallery girls’ fashion at the Armory is always stellar. Here I spy a pair of crazy jeans – they are the first thing I covet at the fair.
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My next fantasy purchase are these two Marlene Dumas paintings, each as big as your face and titled, No Look, 2008 and Ungroomed, 2008.
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Each time in NYC, I seek out what Mark Manders has to offer. I am in deep love with this piece, Still Life with Purple Marker. Manders is a master at shape-shifting and this small piece feels like it has the same scale as his massive installations.
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Yun -Fei Ji, After the Great Leap, 2005 mineral pigment on rice paper + detail
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Miriam Bohm at Ratio 3
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PICA Alum Todd James has gone big and beautiful with these paper murals.
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TBA:09 alum Peter Coffin’s peg legged pirate has two of everything, parrots, hooks and wooden limbs.

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TBA ON SIGHT Programs

Each year, PICA produces a companion program to our Time-Based Art ON SIGHT Visual Arts exhibitions. In recent years, they’ve featured everything from full-color artist posters to in-depth interviews about Festival projects. With all of this rich content at our disposal, we thought that we should make the past programs available online for your enjoyment. For more artist interviews, recordings, and art publications, visit the PICA Resource Room, Monday-Friday, 10 am – 5 pm.
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Download the TBA:08 ON SIGHT Program, featuring Tamy Ben-Tor, Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn, Lizzie Fitch, Justin Gorman, Jacob Hartman, Corey Lunn, Jeffry Mitchell, Ryan Trecartin, Paintallica, Fritz Haeg, and The Yes Men, with a special poster from Jeffry Mitchell.
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Download the TBA:09 ON SIGHT Program, with artist interviews including Robert Boyd, Antoine Catala, Peter Coffin, Brody Condon, Jesse Hayward, Johanna Ketola, Fawn Krieger, Kalup Linzy, Brian Lund, Ma Quisha, robbinschilds + A.L. Steiner, Ethan Rose, and Stephen Slappe.

All of your friends were there: 2010 and beyond, Part I

PICA Visual Art Program Director Kristan Kennedy just returned from a two-week blitz of the Whitney Biennial and Armory Art Fair. Read on for the first of her reports:
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This is what my eye looked like when I landed in New York. If this eye is a window, then you would be looking out onto a psychic landscape scattered with detritus from the week prior. It was time to shake off any residue and move on. I had an opening to attend.
 
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When I come to NY I always stay with family. I was born and raised in Brooklyn and I am lucky to have a free place to lay my head. Tonight, however, I have decided to splurge and spend the night at the Ace Hotel. I am grateful for this spare, but plush limbo-land where I can clear my head and get gussied up. The windows at the Hotel perfectly frame little bits of the buildings across the way, that square starts to blur and I can feel a nap coming on. 
 
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Post nap and room service, my dear friend Topher Sinkinson and I waffle between feeling excited and anxious about the opening. We feel immense amounts of pressure about what we are wearing, which seems silly, but, you have to figure people are going to be puttin’ on the ritz tonight. I am not feeling so ritzy, although perhaps the photo suggests otherwise. 
 
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Storm Tharp; Dolores; 2010; ink, gouache, colored pencil, graphite, charcoal and fabric dye on paper. 
 
Upon entering the Whitney we spy a gaggle of Portland peeps, and we form one undulating, amoeba-like formation for the rest of the night, picking up other cohorts along the way. None of this was planned, but there is a fair amount of Portland pride happening in the Whitney tonight, as both Storm Tharp and Jessica Jackson Hutchins are part of the show. My photos are limited; as the security is fierce you will have to troll Flickr for covert pics.
My first impression is this: the show feels sparse, calm, pretty. I am used to being visually assaulted by the Whitney Biennial, and I cannot remember a time when I can see more wall than art. This is completely disarming. I can see everything clearly, in fact someone in our caravan says to me along the way, “You are actually looking at the art” to which I replied, ” I know, weird, right?” Not so weird if you think about it (my job, in fact, is as an artist/curator/friend), but at these kinds of massive openings it is a rare occurrence. In fact, at every opening I have been to since the dawn of time, half of the conversations are taken up by people talking about how they “have to come back”.

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Post-Collegiate Haze: On Losing Your Identity and Other Things

Visual Art Program Director Kristan Kennedy delivered a fantastic PMMNLS lecture last Monday, and we wanted to make sure that everyone had the chance to experience her presentation. Read on and piece together the YouTube references of a talented artist and curator’s mind.
- Frank Stella , 1972 / This is the year I was born.

- Pictorial energy and control, young ideas about art.
- Learning to see from my mother
- Mom’s paintings, the seagull
- Painting on the walls in margarine
- Me on a rock, befriending the inanimate
- Learning to feel from my Father
- My Dad makes his first sculpture after going to DIA Beacon, declares he is a minimalist.
- His exclamation inside of a Sera ” This is like the universe”
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogo vs. Jesus Christ
- My parent’s bookshelf, Future Shock, Radical Child Rearing, e.e. cummings
- Cement Turtles
- Mrs. Epstien’s house, The Kimono and the Foot
- Willem De Kooning and the Art Gang
- Peter Schjeldahl, Why Artists Make the Worst Students, 1998
-Ted Morgan plays Husker Du Land Speed Record on vinyl, Joe Sheer throws a great dinner party, Mary Lum and the obsessive mark + never date male painters
- College work

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Art From the Comfort of Your Home

Near the end of last year, the NEA released a report on arts attendance in the US; the results were not encouraging. According to their findings, the percentage of adults who attended at least one arts event dropped to 34.6% in 2008, down from 39.4% in 2002. To an arts organization, even numbers like 39.4% are dishearteningly low. You could argue that arts presenters should change course and show more populist work to garner attention and audiences, but that strategy would run counter to guiding missions and alienate many existing supporters.
What, then, can the strategy be for engaging new (or even existing) audiences in contemporary art? Our friends up at Seattle’s On The Boards decided to test out a new model for presenting contemporary performance. With the launch of their On The Boards TV, they’re staking out a place in the online, on-demand, video rental market. Their gambit is that cutting edge dance, theater and performance (with high production values) can draw a share of the booming online audiences and create new revenue streams for contemporary art. Already, they have beautiful footage of works by artists including Young Jean Lee, Reggie Watts, and Diana Szeinblum, complete with artist interviews and related content. The appeal of this service for educational institutions and peer organizations is clear – a subscription would be a valuable resource to students, artists, and audiences researching an artist.
However, the main question about in-house audiences remains: if people won’t come through the theater doors, is it truly possible to reach them elsewhere? Will OTB.tv be able to draw viewers who couldn’t make it to the live show? The quality of the content is certainly there, but will audiences readily replace the live experience with a recorded one?

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The View from Caldera

Our Development Associate, Jessica Burton, was selected as one of Caldera’s Artists in Residence for the month of February! While we valiantly try fill all of her duties here, she’s off focusing on her choreography and dance in a lakeside studio in Central Oregon. Here is her first report back from a few days into her residency:
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I was welcomed to Caldera on Tuesday night by Jason, Kevin, and Wendy with a homemade curry lentil soup, spinach salad and wine. Kevin and Wendy are photographers and Jason is a writer. The soup is delicious. We talk about art on the two coasts (Jason and Kevin are from Brooklyn and Wendy is from Portland). Kevin is looking for a new gallery and that led us to talk to about artist representation and the differences between performance and visual “systems”. That led me to talk about the People’s Biennial lecture from last Saturday. The question “What makes someone an artist?” keeps coming up for me. They ask me about my plan for the next three weeks and what my process will be. I honestly reply that I have no idea. I am here to find out.
At the end of the evening, after several glasses of wine, the three other artists leave and I take a walk through my dance space. It is huge. The acoustics are great, so I turn on some music, crank the volume, and take a few spins around the room. This is MY space for the next three weeks! I can’t believe it.
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I sleep well in my A-frame after starting a fire in my wood burning stove and curling up to Deborah Hay’s My Body the Buddhist. The next day I sleep in, make coffee and head to the studio for yoga and some movement exploration. I put on Rufus Wainwright and immediately channel Diana Szeinblum and Lucas Condro. I start with an exercise that I learned from Diana that helps to connect your hands and core to the rest of your body. After a few hours I need a break, so I go for a hike around the lake. Today my muscles ache from head to toe. It is a great feeling.
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We’ll try to keep you updated on Jessica’s residency experience, but if you’d like to catch her work in-person, consider making a road trip this weekend for Saturday’s Artist Open Studio!

Charmed and Disarmed, Part II

Right now, Kristan Kennedy – our lovely Visual Arts Program Coordinator – is off in New York City, visiting galleries, studios, and festivals to soak up the New Year in art. Read on for the second part of a photogenic insight into the mind of one of our curators:
Oh my aching feet!
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I can’t see much, my peripheral vision has been cut off by the giant parka hood that I must keep zipped up at all times. It is bone-chillingly cold out here. Even with my blinders on I have noticed people here seem to be proclaiming their inner desires on the street. The other day I saw a giant scrawl that said, “Anthony I need your love now.” And then there was this gem.
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Speaking of trends… Most of the artists I have been visiting this trip are women. This comes right on the heels of the news that, for the first time ever, there are equal percentages of male and female artists selected for this year’s Whitney Biennial. I did not seek out women artists in particular, they are just everywhere! My visits have taken me to DUMBO and Bushwick and LES and Long Island City and Chinatown and Chelsea. My new years resolution to keep studio visits to thirty minutes has quickly been tossed out. How do other curators do it? I hear stories of visits where stone faced curators enter, zip their lips, make the artist sweat, and turn on their heels without so much as a “thank you.” Or others who visit seven artists in one afternoon. Do they have a magic flying carpet? Have you ever tried to get from one side of Brooklyn to the other. JEESH!

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Charmed and Disarmed, Part I

Right now, Kristan Kennedy – our lovely Visual Arts Program Coordinator – is off in New York City, visiting galleries, studios, and festivals to soak up the New Year in art. Read on for a photogenic insight into the mind of one of our curators:
I spend about a month in New York every year. It is a self imposed sabbatical and a working vacation. It is during this time that I settle into the sidewalk, finding comfort in the canyons created by tall buildings on either side. For the first week I stay way, way, way, way out in south Brooklyn, in a nameless neighborhood past the newly hip Ditmas and before Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island. This is where I grew up, and this is where I come to look at the beautiful noses and beautiful wares and beautiful handwritten signs of my beautiful people. 
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Junk, Cookies and Cabbages on Kings Highway, Brooklyn NY
Even though I have just about had my fill of Russian elegance and promise myself that I will rage on New Years in the City, I get an invitation to go to the country, and I take it. The city is going nowhere fast and, when I return, I suspect it will be waiting for me. I head up to Hudson, NY. My friends house is a work of art, with every surface covered in some fantastic pattern, and every possible assemblage of this-and-that; the best kind of installation. They have Portland baristas here now, and Marina Abramovic is rumored to be opening a performance space soon. Other than that, there is snow and there are antiques and there is lots of old upstate glamor. We run through the streets at midnight, it is a good time. 
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Keith Crowe (Co- Founder and Former Owner Operator of Portland’s Half and Half ), Illustrator Brent Johnson (formerly of Motel Gallery), and me in Hudson, NY. 

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Over the Weekend at Under the Radar

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

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PICA Descends on UTR

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

UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL 2010 from UTRFestival on Vimeo.

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

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Warhol Foundation Awards PICA $100,000 Grant!

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robbinschilds perform C.L.U.E. at TBA:09. Photo: Carole Zoom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call for Proposals: Open Engagement Conference

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

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

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

PICA 2009 and Looking Ahead to PICA 2010

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

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

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

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

PICA 2009: Help Define Our Times

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Just some of our first six months of 2009 programming

A letter from Victoria Frey, Executive Director of PICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victoria Frey
Executive Director, PICA

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

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

Philip Glass, Orphée, and Film’s Missing Element

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

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

PMMNLS: Kenneth Goldsmith


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

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

Headphones in the Square

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

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

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

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Open to Every Definition of Beauty

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

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the race card

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

Provisional Sculpture

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

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Everywhere Dancing

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

Variation, Affirmation, and Political Questions

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

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back home again in no such place

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

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

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

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

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

“We Didn’t Rehearse Much”

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

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

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

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

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Some Things Last a Long Time

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

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All Crumbs and No Trail

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

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Circling in on ourselves

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

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Sesame Street for Adults

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

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Nervous Sweat

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

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I Don’t Want to Lose You

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

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Transfixed and Transformed

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

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

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considering audience and the critic

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

Portland Sightings

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

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

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LeftOva and Ova and Ova Again

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

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Moving and Critical: Daniel Barrow

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

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mindfulness

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

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

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

Here and There

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

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Crushing on Locust

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

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American Family Road Trip

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

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…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Bread

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

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

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

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Winnipeg Babysitter

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

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

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

The Open Road Inspires

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

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

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Yes, I Am Negative and Vegetarian

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

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

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What Works for the future of Washington High

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

Highlights from Circles and Spinning wheels….

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

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

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

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I Believe(d) In You

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

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

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Written, Illustrated, and Performed

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

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Slug Sex and Waltzing

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

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

Quick Hits

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

One Hand. Tied.

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

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locust + Tiny TBA = Inspired Kids

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

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