Photo by Alin Dragulin Paint & Fire by Steve Mathews
Time After Time The Mercury’s Guide to TBA’s 10th Year by Alison Hallett
IS QUITE A YEAR for the Time-Based Art Festival. It marks the festival’s 10th anniversary, and the first year the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, which puts on the fest, has had its own space—PICA moved offices from the Wieden+Kennedy building to SW 10th earlier this year. It’s also the last year TBA will take place at Washington High School, which has been the fest’s de facto home since 2009. It’s a year that sees the festival reconsidering its approach to visual art programming. And it turned out to be the year I officially ran out of time-related puns with which to headline the Mercury’s TBA guide. (“Time… Based Art Is on Your Side”?) Most significantly, though, this marks the first year of curation by the fest’s new permanent artistic director, Angela Mattox. Mattox comes to TBA after eight years at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and signs of her confident curatorial hand
are already evident. This year’s programming is markedly more international than in years past, with artists from the Balkans, Japan, Zimbabwe, Mexico, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo among the usual suspects from New York and the UK. “TBA must be part of the international discourse, both in its content and in its presence in the discussion,” Mattox told me a few months ago, explaining that part of her challenge as curator is to figure out “how to connect local conversations with global ones.” And she’s remarkably explicit about themes this year’s festival is exploring: resistance to oppression, freedom of speech, activism, and democracy. It’s a far cry from the “themes will emerge as the festival unfolds!” approach of past curators, and bodes well for a tenure of relevant, engaged programming. TBA’s an annual crash course in world-class performance art, and this guide is our attempt to make sense of it all. (And okay, occasionally make fun of it−just a tiny little bit.) We’ll also be reviewing the festival’s shows at portlandmercury.com/tba.
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P2 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide August 30, 2012
Nora Chipaumire on Displacement, Exile, and African Identity by Jenna Lechner other dancer—Okwui Okpokwasili (born in the AN DANCE address politics? How, and Bronx to Nigerian parents)—in a duet called Mirwhat would it look like? Several TBA:12 periam. The title pulls from female icons the Virgin formers engage that question, including choreogMary and Miriam Makeba—a South African singer rapher and dancer Nora Chipaumire. Chipaumire and civil rights activist who was exiled for grew up during apartheid and guerilla war30 years. Miriam is character driven; fare in Zimbabwe, immigrating to the where much of contemporary African United States in 1989. She began Nora dance is male-centric, Chipaumire dancing shortly thereafter and has Chipaumire addresses the female. Its concern since garnered a fair amount of atis the space between private and tention—she’s received two covMiriam public expectations of the female eted Bessie Awards and was the Lincoln Hall at PSU, body, particularly the subjugation topic of the 2008 documentary Fri Sept 7-Sat Sept 8, of the African female body, often Nora (which screened at the Mu8:30 pm, $20-25 drawing comparisons to the content seum of Modern Art). When dancof artist Kara Walker. In place of a lining, Chipaumire has a hypnotizing ear storyline, Chipaumire’s dances favor effect. She moves with focus and fury, abstraction and striking visuals. her head shaved and her sculpted body taut. Chipaumire has discussed the branding of AfShe often crouches, her legs cast wide, her head rica—as a land of genocide, of poverty, and even of down. Her steps tend toward stomps. She flails safaris—as a strong concern in her work. To Porther arms, and then she flings her entire body to landers, Africa may seem like a distant place, acthe ground in tireless repetition. Her topics—discessible only through mediated sources. Chipauplacement, exile, and African identity—are laced mire’s work offers an additional dimension. Social with autobiographical conviction. Her dances are awareness comes in many ways; often, seeing is intimate, with a quiet intensity where she mines believing. It may only be one perspective, but Miriher personal history. am gives us a chance to witness it. For TBA:12, Chipaumire will perform with one
Digging Up the Present The US Debut of Mexican Theater Company Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol by Noah Dunham
but also becoming cultural archeologists of T’S A FAMILIAR tale: two 19-year-olds sorts, an aspect of their craft that will be evimeet at university, study a craft together, and dent in the two pieces they are bringdevelop a partnership that aims to give ing to TBA:12. The first, El Rumor voice to their generation. “Whatdel Incendio (The Sound of ever that means,” Luisa Pardo Lagartijas Fire), focuses on accounts and Gabino Rodríguez joke from young revolutionaries while recalling the humble Tiradas in 1960s Mexico. And the beginnings of their Mexico al Sol second, Asalto al Agua City-based theater collecTransparente (The Assault tive Lagartijas Tiradas al El Rumor del Incendio on Clear Waters), is an exSol (Lizards Basking in the (The Sound of Fire) amination of the centuriesSun). The two will be perWinningstad Theater at PCPA, long drainage of the Lake forming for the first time in the Fri Sept 7-Sun Sept 9, Texcoco lake formation just United States at TBA:12, and 6:30 pm, $20-25 outside of Mexico City. (The seem pleased that the days of shows will be presented in Spanpandering to their age demographic ish, with supertitles in English.) are over. “Since then, we are making Both of these productions are considplays that are very related to our lives. Literered “documentary plays,” in which ally and in any other possible sense,” the actors who portray historical they say. characters also act as presPardo and Rodríguez coLagartijas ent-day investigators unveilfounded their collaboration Tiradas ing a narrative that isn’t just in 2003 after meeting at a history lesson, but also a the National Autonomous al Sol contemporary conversaUniversity of Mexico, and Asalto al Agua tion. A somewhat overly in 10 years they’ve built Transparente (The Assault meta device perhaps, but an award-winning, interon Clear Waters) Pardo and Rodríguez ponationally touring theater Bodyvox, Mon Sept 10, 8:30 pm, etically defend it: company. It was ambiTues Sept 11-Wed Sept 12, “We do not see the hutious from the get-go: “We 6:30 pm, $20-25 man as an essence, but started Lagartijas Tiradas al as the result of a story that it Sol because we want to make builds. We want to build the theater everything, all the time,” they exthrough an account of ourselves.” plain. Which not only means performing,
August 30, 2012 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide P3
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Life Coaching with Andrew Dickson by Sarah Mirk
NDREW DICKSON isn’t a licensed professional anything. But during TBA:12, the Portland artist will invite audience members onstage for a lengthy “life coaching” session—essentially bringing a therapy session off the private sofa and into the glaring public light. “The idea of having an audience is that this person is sort of a proxy for all of us,” says Dickson. “This is not something to sit back and watch, this is something to participate with, to engage with.” I met up with Dickson for a preview life coaching session on a rainy July morning.
And lonely. Ha! I’m really worried about running out of money someday. I feel like there’s this anvil hanging over me in terms of debt. Do you see any choices you could make to ensure that you don’t wind up trapped? I could save money. Are you doing that? No.
Do you recognize that disconnect? Being worried about debt and then being like, “Why would I put money away?” Life Coach I think that’s where a personal tension comes Mark Spencer Hotel from. I don’t feel a lot of frustration with society Ballroom, Sat-Sun 1:30 & about money, I feel frustration with myself. I’m 3:30 pm, Sat Sept 8 worried about the future but am totally irresponsiSun Sept 16 ble right now about money. It is a critical disconnect. You should get a Magic 8 Ball that just says, “You’re Eh, if you achieve both those goals, you’re problying to yourself.” ably in the top 10 percent. That seems crazy, though! We have so many opportunities right On all eight sides! “Let’s see what it says: ‘Whup! You’re now. I feel like I have the opportunity to do anything I want in the lying to yourself.’” Well, I thought we were going to talk world. I don’t have to go work in my dad’s factory or marry some about relationships, but it seems like there’s a lot going man my mom wants me to. Why does it seem crazy to be like, on with this money thing. “Hey, I never want to be desperate for money or get divorced?” Well, I think they’re related. I was raised to be very independent. I think the money stuff comes from that, because what I really prize Well, the odds are with divorce; you’re at 50-50 right now. is independence. And in relationships, there’s always a little bit of Taking a job for the money, that sounds like something distance between me and the other person, I’m always a little bit that’s not pressing. ready to cut and run. No, but I think it taps into my worst fear of being old and poor and bitter. ANDREW DICKSON: I think the first question I’m going to ask whoever’s onstage is: Why are you here? SARAH MIRK: My life goals right now are to never take a job for the money and to never get divorced. I’m working on seeing whether those things are overly optimistic. Those seem like a low bar, right?
Is that an element of wanting to protect yourself from getting hurt? I’m worried about wasting time. I’m always like, “I’m going to get old and die!” I’m worried about getting into a relationship for 30 years and then being like, “Gah!” We human beings are often prone to the dramatic. It’s a lot more fun to say, “I wasted four years!” than, “Gosh, we had some good times, but I’m bummed that it didn’t work out.”
Gob Squad Reworks Andy Warhol for the Facebook Era by Matt Stangel
RITISH-GERMAN video and perfornothing much is happening in Kitchen, within mance collective Gob Squad formed that nothingness is something exemplary of its around an impulse to bring media into perfortime, and it’s a “rare diamond” for that reason: mance and real life into art−to locate the point “They’re forgetting their lines... they’re off their at which the traditional relationships between tits on drugs... and they’re making it up as they artists and audiences end, and a shared human go along and getting it wrong.” experience begins. For Gob Squad’s rendition, actors take the Since 1994, Gob Squad has serviced stage behind a screen onto which video its mission by storming host cities of the live action is projected. Memwith cameras pointed toward unbers of the collective play the Gob filtered human emotion (screenroles from the original film—and Squad ing the resultant footage a bits and pieces of other Warhol Gob Squad’s mere hour later); performing flicks like Screen Test, Sleep, a game of gestures inspired Kitchen (You’ve Eat—but throughout the show, by David Foster Wallace’s Inactors are replaced with audiNever Had It So Good) finite Jest on the court of an ence members who are fed Lincoln Hall at PSU, Thurs abandoned tennis stadium in a lines through a headset. Sept 13-Sat Sept 15, suburb of Berlin; and even conWhile the musical chairs 8:30 pm, $25-30 structing entirely round theaters that takes place between perto present seven-camera panoramic former and audience services Gob footage relating “one place of a city as a Squad’s desire to establish untraditionmicrocosm of the entire world.” al relationships with its audience, Thom says For TBA:12, Gob Squad is breaking out their it also renders the stage into simultaneous well-tested Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Nevsocial, private, and public spaces, bringing to er Had It So Good). It’s a re-creation of Andy light the increasingly fragile (and decreasingly Warhol’s 1965 film Kitchen, the star vehicle authentic) roles occupied therein. Just like in written for cutie pie Edie Sedgwick, in which the mid-’60s urbanity of Warhol’s Kitchen, a group of people with nothing to do stand nothing is really happening on our Facebook around in a kitchen and drag heels through wiry walls and Twitter feeds, but we still steep ourbotched dialogue and lavishly mundane improselves in them, passively clicking things, circuvisational conversation. It’s an exercise in “nothlating the info of the day, fucking up our lines ing really happens.” along the way. There’s something beautiful Sarah Thom of Gob Squad says that while and wholly inconsequential about it.
August 30, 2012 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide P5
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EMBARRASSING MAYBE, artsy definitely, but I’m sorry, dancing around while lip-syncing is not scary. A host of Portland filmmakers, dancers, and performance artists (including Alicia McDaid, Tanya Smith, and Wendy Haynes) star in a program at the Works titled Terrifying Women, which might feature more than a little lip-syncing— curator Justen Harn describes it as “Vagina Monologues on nitrous oxide wearing strap-on penises.” But I want violence, domineering personalities, and disturbing pre-teen rage in my evening of hair-raising females. So in the spirit of the Time-Based Art Fest, let’s shine a speculum light on the esoteric nooks of cinema’s ladyparts-having humans for a brief list* of truly terrifying women. Vera Cosgrove, Dead Alive (1992) Long before director Peter Jackson explored the special love between two Hobbits, he pursued zestier relationships in the bloodtastic Dead Alive. Vera Cosgrove, an inhumanly overbearing mother, takes parental love to grotesque new levels when—after being zombified by a Sumatran rat-monkey bite—she stuffs her meek son back into her putrefied womb. Mrs. Bates has got nothing on the dog-eating Vera. Aughra, The Dark Crystal (1982) Never mind the stanky hippie Gelflings or the unholy shell-stripping Skeksis monsters in The Dark Crystal, Aughra used to scare the pee out of my peehole. She’s like the nightmare baby from an orgy with Miss Piggy, a ram, and Yoda. And don’t even get me started on the way she pops out her one eyeball like a pair of ocular dentures. Yuck! Madame Medusa, The Rescuers (1977) Trashy redhead Madame Medusa is a jet-ski-exhaust-polluting, orphan-stealing, alligator-wielding harpy—with none of the redeeming fashion sense of either Annie’s Miss Hannigan or 101 Dalmatians’ Cruella de Vil. The way she turns a gun on pigtailed orphan Penny and shoves her down a dank hole in search of a sparkly diamond is pretty damned coldhearted. I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark bayou.
Bringing Up Bucky
Totally Terrifying Women A Glut of Actually Scary Females from Cinema by Courtney Ferguson
Sam Green and Yo La Tengo Collaborate on The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller by Matt Stangel
and Stanford’s archives, Green sent short film clips of Fuller to HEN ACADEMY AWARD-nominated documenexperimental and indie music pioneers Yo La Tengo, along with tarian and experimental filmmaker Sam Green (The scratch audio culled from the band’s preexisting recordings. Weather Underground, Utopia in Four Movements) accepted After several meetings between Yo La Tengo and Green, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s commission to create score—to be performed live behind an assemblage of clips, still a live documentary about the life of R. Buckminster Fuller, he images, and Green’s narration—was completed. inherited an aspect of his subject’s legacy. Yo La Tengo songwriter, singer, and guitarist Ira Kaplan says Much of Fuller’s story and impact survives in the public he knew “very little” about Fuller before taking on the project. mind by way of the Buckyball and geodesic dome. The doNow he sees him as a figure who personifies an optiit-all inventor/architect/writer/social theorist operated mism lost. Kaplan references a recent Daily Show under self-generated “Dymaxion” principles—the interview that centered on the idea that humanterm combines “dynamic” and “maximum,” plus Sam ity is destroying itself with technology—a belief the action-implying suffix “-ion”—the foundaGreen & Fuller spent his life protesting. tion for which is that all humanity could live Yo La Tengo “I saw that there was nothing to stop me comfortably, but only if organized to a state from thinking about our total planet Earth of techno-terra harmony. The Love Song of R. and thinking realistically about how to operBut the aspect of Fuller’s legacy mirBuckminster Fuller ate it on an enduringly sustainable basis as rored by Green’s The Love Song dates to Washington High School, the magnificent human-passengered spacethe beginning of Bucky’s career, when he Wed Sept 12, 6:30 & ship that it is,” writes Fuller in his final manuwas a Harvard dropout living in New York 8:30 pm, $20-25 script, Guinea Pig B. City and writing a book about Albert Einstein’s “I am also a living case history of a thoroughly discovery of the theory of special relativity. Just documented, half-century, search-and-research projas Fuller immersed himself in Einstein’s personal paect designed to discover what, if anything, an unknown, monpers, teasing out the connection between lifestyle and aceyless individual, with a dependent wife and newborn child, complishment, so Green worked from details of Fuller’s life might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity that found in what is considered to be the polymathic genius’ could not be accomplished by great nations, great religions, or greatest project, the Dymaxion Chronofile. private enterprise, no matter how rich or powerfully armed,” he Archived at Stanford University, the Dymaxion Chronofile writes in the same text. consists of “every paper that passed over [Fuller’s] desk,” exHad we followed Fuller’s plan for the world, things could’ve plains Green. It is speculated to be the most complete history wound up looking an awful lot like a future-Stalinist monoscape of a single person’s life, containing updates made every 15 of pod houses and cities in the clouds—rad or not, you decide— minutes from 1920 through 1983. but the temperature might not be as high as it is today. After spending some time with the Dymaxion Chronofile
Rhoda Penmark, The Bad Seed (1956) Speaking of pigtailed tykes… Rhoda Penmark from The Bad Seed reinforces every instinct I’ve ever had to permanently seal up my uterus. Ten times creepier than the blonde Poltergeist tot, the clever sociopath Rhoda is willing to kill lots of meddlesome folks to get shiny trinkets. Like shoes. She will totally set your house on fire for a pair of Mary Janes. “GIVE ME MY SHOES!” Jaws, Jaws (1975) Okay, I’m about to blow your mind… Jaws was a lady! I’m sure you’re thinking, “No way, brah! That scary he-beast thought skinnydipping chicks were sexy, so he ate them.” Well, right you are about the shark’s snacking proclivities, but I submit for the court’s consideration: female great whites are bigger than males, and Jaws was huuuu-ge! And terrifying! Unlike that yuppie mommy shark who took her baby spawn on vacation to SeaWorld in Jaws 3.
Terrifying Women curated by Justen Harn Washington High School, Tues Sept 11, 10:30 pm, $5-7
* For sure, it’s a non-comprehensive list that blatantly ignores pop culture’s most obvious demon women—the ones who boil bunnies, wield clothes hangers, and masturbate with crucifixes.
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The Thing of It All Refocusing TBA’s Visual Art Programming with End Things by Matt Stangel
teract with them. OME OF THE WORK that I was doTo help us along: a touchable installation ing with artists that I really believed of movable sculpture from Erika Vogt; sound in was getting lost in the bustle and the mapresented as object by Claudia Meza; things nia of the festival,” explains PICA Visual Art diffused over transmuted form (stills from Curator Kristan Kennedy of her curatorial films about objects, translated to wall paintrole in TBA over the years. “I really wanted ings) by Paris-based Isabelle Cornaro; a to make a focused exhibition of only the artweek-long object-based storytelling session ists that are speaking to each other about from writer and artist Alex Cecchetti; “pasthis concept of ‘end things.’ ” tel environments,” sculptures on beanbag Kennedy is right. Digesting TBA’s visual chairs, and a fountain made from Oregon art programming has been a daunting task in clay by Mo Ritter; and Dutch collective van past years. Navigating the work can feel like a Brummelen & de Haan’s 16mm film centercomically heady StumbleUpon session: Each ing around the inaccessibility of a particular project requires detailed research and discusTurkish frieze due to its potential to spark sion and weeks of thinking and considering and political upheaval. catching up on an artist’s conceptual footing Each project, while as particular to itself as and double-checking the execution and then anything from past TBAs, has the added benefit more thinking and thinking and thinking—all the of sharing conceptual train tracks with fellow while, each project’s corresponding schema End Things contributions. Check our TBA blog of research rests in its own little compartment, (portlandmercury.com/tba) for expanded details sealed off from the other shows and steeping in on End Things projects and a one-billion-word its own expansive ecosystem of meaning. It’s a interview with Kristan Kennedy that will fill you lot to ask and expect of audiences, and frankly, in on everything you ever wanted to know about an example of the well-intentioned art snake bitTBA:12. ing its own tail. End Things is designed to defang the overload of past festivals—the exhibition uses only six of PICA’s 12 visual art budgetary allotEnd ments for the year. (The remaining six will Things be presented throughout the year in a slower, more focused fashion, cenAlex Cecchetti, Mo Ritter, tering around PICA’s new downvan Brummelen & de Haan, town office/event space.) Kenand Erika Vogt nedy says the idea of animation— Washington High School, “things” in and out of motion, and Thurs Sept 6-Sat Sept 29 the ways we understand them— Claudia Meza tie the six projects that make up White Box at the U of O, End Things together. Sat Sept 1-Sat Sept 22 She explains that the idea was born out of conversations with Isabelle Cornaro TBA:10 artist Storm Tharp: converand Mo Ritter sations about things (art things, spePICA, Fri Sept 7 cifically), why we keep them around, what Sat Sept 29 they mean, and how they never stand still physically, conceptually, or even semiotically. Also contributing to the idea of End Things were talks with TBA:11 artist Anne Marie Oliver about animation. “Greco-Roman sculpture, with all their flowing robes, was proto-animation—all that was to show movement,” says Kennedy, “and now we’re in this sort of hyper-animation state of the world. [Oliver] paraphrased some famous philosophers in saying that if something is moving it can’t be understood, and [in relation to movement] I started to think about the idea of thingness.” So how do we understand objects, let alone art, in a world of ever-quickening things, disposable things, things we don’t care about that are designed to profit off of that exact emotional disconnect? For starters, we must get reacquainted with our things—and the vast internets of potential inside each—if we’re to know how to better in-
August 30, 2012 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide P9
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Spotlighting Japan’s Avant-Garde in Voices and Echoes by Matt Stangel
OU EVER PUT a whammy bar on it?” I ask, attempting a joke about Japanese sound artist Aki Onda’s instrument of choice, the walkman. With the portable cassette player, Onda composes and performs his “sound diary,” a series of field recordings he’s compiled over the last several decades. I’m trying to tease out the whys. Why a walkman? Why field recordings? Why eschew traditional instruments in the first place? My hope is that if I underVoices stand Onda’s work and creative philosophies, and I’ll better understand his TBA:12 curatorial outing, Voices and Echoes, a night of experimenEchoes tal Japanese music and spoken word. curated by Aki Onda “The reason I picked up a cassette walkman sive elements. (In other words, it’s a lot of tapLincoln Hall at PSU, is just by chance,” says Onda. In the ’80s he ping and bouncing and vibrating that interacts Sun Sept 16, 5 pm, was living in London and working in the music with the performer’s surroundings.) $15-20 industry as a photographer when he broke his Where Suzuki recasts function by using rooms camera and couldn’t find a replacement. “Instead, I as instruments, Gozo Yoshimasu toys with the musicjust bought the cassette walkman.” ality of vocalization, performing spoken-word pieces in a He’s kept it with him now for 20 years, taking sonic snaplanguage that resembles Japanese but communicates meaning shots in places like Morocco, Japan, and the United States. only through inflection and emotive intonation (with occasional The resulting songs arrive like diary pages held to sunlight—waoutings into other languages). In a ritualistic setting inspired by ter atop water atop water, room inside room, environment over time spent with itako mediums, Yoshimasu will perform alongside environment, folding his experience of the world onto itself like experimental turntablist and guitar player Otomo Yoshihide, who abstract, tacitly narrative origami. works to bridge noise and jazz music. At TBA:12, Onda has curated an evening with three of his While the three individuals performing are relatively unknown Japanese peers. Akio Suzuki plays rooms, generating sounds to US audiences, they’re major players in Japan’s experimental with homemade and rare or uncommon instruments. The natuliterature and music scenes, and Voices and Echoes looks to ral echoes of a given performance environment are manipulated be a must-see for anyone who’s into the more abrasive, meditathrough a keen ear and the application of predominantly percustive, and exploratory aspects of sound.
HAT WE’RE MAKING is not just a live event or live television, but living television,” explains Jemma Nelson, co-founder of the New York City-based performance company Big Art Group. Nelson and Artistic Director/ Co-Founder Caden Manson are walking me through the ideas behind their grandscale, community-oriented project The People—Portland. It is the fifth time the
group will be putting together an iteration of The People series they started in 2007, a project they customize for each community they work with. The show is described by the duo as a mash-up of live theater, real-time footage, and footage from interviews of Portlanders that the Big Art Group and PICA conducted in May. The Portland interviewees were asked to describe their perspectives
Can You Spot the Real TBA Events? by Erik Henriksen
“A ‘chorus’ of video interviews conducted with local residents, The People—Portland loosely retells the Greek tragic cycle of the Oresteia.”
“With TXTmessage, communications consultant and Wired contributor Liam Young will catalog each SMS and MMS message sent within the Works at Washington High School. Using four large LCD screens, Young will then display the messages, alongside the names of their senders.”
“For two months, Thu Tran held nearly everything she ate under a blacklight and recorded the results on a single piece of paper. In a bizarre take on the classic cooking show, Tran illustrates her findings with images from the internet, a live video feed of different foods changing colors under a blacklight, and a blacklight cooking demonstration.”
Big Art Group The People— Portland Washington High School, Thurs Sept 6-Sat Sept 8, 8:30 pm, $15-20
on concepts such as community, justice, terrorism, and democracy. “Democracy” is a term that both Manson and Nelson reference a great deal during our conversation, thanks to The People’s source material: Aeschylus’ three-part tragedy the Oresteia, which culminates with a public trial of its main character, Orestes. “It’s often considered not just a theatrical document, but a founding document in the Western canon,” Nelson says of the Oresteia. “It has these things to say about justice and community and democracy, in an ancient way, and we wanted to play with that and think about how that could be relevant to contemporary times” Like the ending of the Orestia, The People—Portland will be performed in a public setting, with actors from Big Art Group’s company, local participants, and the Portland interviewees taking part in the spectacle. The end result is something that Manson and Nelson hope will be a sort of “social sculpture,” in which ownership of the piece resonates with the public as well as with the artists behind the process. But given how opinionated Portland’s population is, one wonders if resonance or dissonance will be most felt in the end.
“‘Artstigator’ Grady Deshant has performed in Boston, Chicago, Sydney, and London. His latest work, the video monologue The Insomniac’s Nightmare, examines the casual and causal links between popular entertainments like Modern Family and recent mass shootings.”
“In Cacophony Cantos, Austin theatre collective Gener8 randomly selects three audience members as co-collaborators. Half poetry performance and half discussion, the evening will be focused on the ever-shifting power dynamics of the artist/audience dynamic.”
“Miniature raconteur Laura Heit performs some of the smallest puppet shows around.”
“Play: The Play makes TBA accessible for even the youngest festivalgoers. For two hours, parents are encouraged to bring their children to Imago Theatre, where childcare will be provided and webcams will broadcast their children’s actions to anyone with an internet connection. Accompanied by a live, improvised score by Parenthetical Girls, Play recontextualizes the subconscious art of children’s play into the framework of a theatrical production.”
“CHRISTEENE is a shameless and sexually infused sewer of live rap and RnB, whose message challenges gender, capitalism, corporate mendacity, complacency, and false celebrity while shattering the American obsession with charm and grace.”
“Boasting an original score by the Postal Service’s Jimmy Tamborello, Seattle poet and choreographer Steph Annie’s Tears in the Rain deconstructs Pacific Northwest’s weather patterns and their effects on the individual and regional psyche.”
1. Real! That’s IFC’s Portlandi—no, wait, sorry. The People—Portland performed by Big Art Group.
Big Art Group Brings The People to Portland by Noah Dunham
2. Fake. :( 3. Deliciously real! The Yes and No of Blacklight Food by Thu Tran. 4. Fake. But we hear Mike Daisey’s working on something similar. 5. Fake. 6. Real! Miniature Dramas by Laura Heit and David Commander. 7. Holy shit, this is totally fake. 8. Holy shit, this is totally real! 9. Fake. But we hear Rutger Hauer’s working on something similar.
Democracy on the Big Screen
TBA or Not +
Other Voices, Other Rooms
August 30, 2012 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide P11
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Online Relationship Management Claire L. Evans and the Digital Heart by Dylan Meconis
solutions, which are more practical—and in a sense more LAIRE L. EVANS will be bringing her performative dystopian—concepts for the quantification and managelecture Restore from Backup, an examination of onment of the heart online. line relationships, to this year’s TBA. Evans is a writer, artist, and musician (she's one half of YACHT) whose work You maintain a great blog, Space Canon (urbanoften focuses on the role of technology in society. We’ve honking.com/spacecanon), all about sciaccompanied the interview with our own proposence fiction. What trends would you like als for some virtual tools that would make onto see more of in contemporary sci-fi? line relationships a little easier to navigate. Claire The future doesn’t look as monolithic L. Evans as it used to: in a world of subjective MERCURY: Do you think you’re and endless connectivity, everyone more sentimental as a result of Restore from will live their own versions of the fusocial media? ture, individually marketed and tailored CLAIRE L. EVANS: It’s increasingly Backup to their whims. I think science fiction difficult to be impulsively sentimental or PICA, Thurs Sept 13, has yet to adequately speak to this. Alemotional on the web. When you lose 12:30 pm, free though there’s a lot of great work being a friend, or end a romantic relationship, done, I don’t think we’ve got our Orwell of you’re not just “hiding” those individuals from Facebook yet. your “timeline.” Those are cataclysms of the heart. Your presentation is “design fiction” that suggests some ideas for how to measure and understand our online relationships. Could you share some ideas that might not have made the final cut? In its original draft, the presentation focused on the idea of forming a physical object from the vast amount of bits that make up a discarded online relationship. I had imagined the wealthy, lonely people of the future strolling through vast mausoleums of ex-friends, speculated about holding the sum total of a failed love in your hands. But I don’t think we’ll ever interface with data in such a tactile way. Now, the presentation focuses on emotional bandwidth
Crackpot Cookery Thu Tran’s 420-Inspired The Yes and No of Blacklight Food by Jenna Lechner
me. “T2” stands for Thanksgiving 2, typically held HU TRAN made a name for herself as host a week or two after Thanksgiving. It’s a friends of the delightfully crackpot cooking show Thanksgiving dinner party; just friends and Food Party. The TV show—which ran on IFC weed, and people either bring leftovers from 2009-2010—chiefly stars handmade from their family’s Thanksgivings, or puppets, and is emblematic of Tran’s Thu prepare something that wouldn’t work: experimental, silly, and rife with typically fly at the family dinner Tran what-the-fuck moments. Trailing its table (weed Cool Ranch Dorito success, the Brooklyn-based artist The Yes and No of cornbread). One year, my roomhas worked on various collaboraBlacklight Food mates and I decided to make the tive projects (including doing stage Washington High School, theme “black light,” and a trippy props for Girl Talk’s live show). Fri Sept 14, 10:30 dinner party ensued. I caught up with Tran to discuss pm, $5-7 The Yes and No of Blacklight Food, What kind of Google searches did her piece for TBA. Our conversation you run for the piece? dropped us into the abyss of Google Image Sometimes I won’t know what something is Search and 420-friendly dinner parties. called, so I start with a blunt description, like “blood mushroom.” I roll over my favorite images, MERCURY: What will we see at your TBA and see what the JPEGs are labeled, looking for performance? names, nicknames, Latin names, and search for THU TRAN: I will be giving a slide lecture on blackthose. I find names like “bleeding tooth fungi” and light-reactive food. The data I’ve compiled is based “Hydnellum peckii.” Search for those, jackpot. It’s on personal experience. The photos are carefully very easy to tangent from here. “Bleeding tooth,” curated from Google Image searches. I will also be “mouth injuries” (no!). The surf can go on for giving a few black-light-related cooking demos for hours, but it always somehow winds up in a dark stage. Because cooking is an intimate activity, we lonely place, “Lindsay Lohan 2012,” “Bieber leg will get up close and personal with a live video feed tattoo,” or “Lohanthony GIFs.” from my webcam. Matt Fitzpatrick, who composes music for most of my videos, will be onsite to proDo you have any eatery plans for when you vide live scoring. arrive in Portland? I love the food cart and doughnut scene in PortA lot of your work involves collaboration; did land. I will definitely indulge in the big chocolate collaboration play into this piece? dong doughnut and the gay Froot Loops doughnut The idea itself spawned from a dinner party called from Voodoo. “Blacklight T2” hosted by my old roommates and
August 30, 2012 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide P13
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P14 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide August 30, 2012
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listings Performance Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells, The Quiet Volume The silence of a library is a very particular thing: No one is talking, but everyone is thinking, reading, and turning pages. (Unless you’re at the Central Library… then, possibly, someone is shouting about how it’s their turn to use the internet.) Libraries are unique spaces, public but focused, and performance artists Tim Etchells and Ant Hampton take advantage of that peculiarity in their introspective piece The Quiet Volume, which invites two audience members at a time to don headsets and follow whispered cues that lead them through the library’s stacks. ALISON HALLETT Multnomah County Central Library, Thurs Sept 6-Sun Sept 16 (no Mon Sept 10 show), see pica.org for showtimes, $8-10 Miguel Gutierrez, Heavens What Have I Done New York choreographer Miguel Gutierrez mashes up the disciplines of dance, humor, drama, and vocalization in his epic, ramblingly original pieces: a smidgen of good-natured hipster irony sneaks in now and again, or perhaps a dash of impropriety when he appears in his underwear and/or high heels. With an emotional terrain that spans the minutia of relationship feelings to the state of an unjust world, Gutierrez is, literally, all over the place. In Heavens What Have I Done he dons the rainbows and makeup of a clown for a solo monologue and dance that deals with the theatrical process, travel, injustice, teaching, and his own personal hopes and dreams— so, all of life, essentially. As per usual. MARJORIE SKINNER Washington High School, Fri Sept 7-Sun Sept 9, 6:30 pm, $15-20
Nora Chipaumire, Miriam See African Dance on pg. 3 for more info. Lincoln Hall at PSU, Fri Sept 7-Sat Sept 8, 8:30 pm, $20-25
constraint: The short works must be performed entirely on a miniscule four-byfour-foot stage placed in the middle of the theater. The quick, diverse, back-toback dances can strike like a lightning bolt or come and go like an easy laugh. SM Washington High School, Sat Sept 8, 10:30 pm, $10-15
Laura Heit and David Commander, Miniature Dramas There’s an obvious and enjoyable tension at Gob Squad, Gob Squad’s Kitchen work in the clever (and funny) miniature (You’ve Never Had It So Good) puppet shows put on by Laura Heit See Pop Art on pg. 5 for more info. Linand David Commander. Each puppecoln Hall at PSU, Thurs Sept 13-Sat teer looms over the little pieces they Sept 15, 8:30 pm, $25-30 manipulate, presumably commandArlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway ing the audience’s attention. But, Chelfitsch, Hot Pepper, Air then, at the same time, a projecBodyVox, 1201 NW 17th Conditioner, and the Faretion screen emblazoned with a Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th well Speech massive close-up of all the tiny Chelfitsch, one of Japan’s most action looms over them, so it’s Lincoln Hall at PSU, 1620 SW Park acclaimed theater companies— kind of a draw. Heit tells punchily Mark Spencer Hotel Ballroom, 409 SW 11th helmed by writer/director Toshiki poignant stories with her elaboMultnomah County Central Library, 801 SW 10th Okada—brings a piece with three rately detailed matchbox-size interconnected vignettes about setpieces. Commander’s main PICA, 415 SW 10th, Suite 300 what it’s like to be a twentysomepiece, In Flight, is a tart sendup Washington High School, 531 SE 14th thing office drone in Japan. These of a comfortably numb consumerist Water Avenue Project Lot, SE Morrison & Water highly choreographed scenes marry society, set on a crashing airplane. humor, movement, and music, like a Avid readers of SkyMall magazine will White Box at the U of O, 24 NW 1st sort of avant-garde Office Space. (No fax totally be in on the joke. DENIS C. THEWinningstad Theatre at PCPA, machines will be harmed.) AH Washington RIAULT Washington High School, Sun 1111 SW Broadway High School, Fri Sept 14-Sat Sept 15, 6:30 Sept 9, 10:30 pm, $5-7 pm, $20-25 Brainstorm/Sahelsounds, Global and Mobile Pop Claudia Meza, Listening to Space: Sonic City PDX The TBA program notes that Christopher Kirkley is a “self-deClaudia Meza has a history with PICA. Her former band Explode into Colors scribed amateur ethnomusicologist and gentleman explorer of the South African performed at 2009’s TBA, and Meza curated the ongoing New Musics series. Sahel,” which… damn. If it’s that easy, allow me to self-describe as a “master orThis year, she’s created an art tour based entirely on the properties of natural gasmologist and gentleman assassin of the Delta Quadrant.” And since I have a sound. Her Listening to Space: Sonic City PDX program functions as an autitle like that, you can trust me when I say that Global and Mobile Pop—presented dio tour of Portland, with Meza asking more than 30 musicians and artists to by Kirkley, under the label Sahelsounds, along with Portland art-pop band Brainpick locations entirely for their ambient sonic possibilities. Freeway overpasses, storm—sounds like a giddy evening of A/V overload. There’ll be music, remixed open spaces, and the city’s buildings are all part of what you might YouTubes, “live cell phone feeds” (FROM WHERE?!), and Skyped concerts find on the tour, which runs throughout TBA and is guided by from Africa, with everything concentrated into a show that conveys the “vast QR codes and online maps. The tour concludes with an outweirdness of the internet era.” ERIK HENRIKSEN: MO&GAOTDQ side live concert from members of AU, Golden Retriever, Washington High School, Mon Sept 10, 10:30 pm, $5-7 and more, including Meza herself. NED LANNAMANN Various locations, Thurs Sept 6-Sun Sept 16, free, Future Cinema: Terrifying Women, Weston Currie and Liz soniccitypdx.tumblr.com; concert at Water Avenue Harris, and B-Movie Bingo Project Lot, Sat Sept 15, 4:30 pm, free Make way for the terrifying women. The scary ladies of Terrifying Women, a
Big Art Group, The People—Portland See Democracy On the Big Screen on pg. 11 for more info. Washington High School, Thurs Sept 6-Sat Sept 8, 8:30, $15-20
Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, El Rumor del Incendio (The Sound of Fire) See Digging Up the Present on pg. 3 for more info. Winningstad Theatre at PCPA, Fri Sept 7-Sun Sept 9, 6:30 pm, $20-25
where he was born and still lives, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Linyekula runs a dance studio in the city of Kisangani, which since his birth has seen two wars and decades of shaky government. That brutal history, along with the country’s rich culture of music and dance, will be channeled for an hour into Linyekula’s tiny circle of light. SM Winningstad Theatre at PCPA, Thurs Sept 13Sat Sept 15 6:30 pm, $20-25
You don't need to carry this flammable piece of newspaper around with you through all of TBA. Go to portlandmercury.com/tba for the freshest news and TBA event calendar.
Andrew Dickson, Life Coach See Get Help on pg. 5 for more info. Mark Spencer Hotel Ballroom, Sat-Sun 1:30 & 3:30 pm, Sat Sept 8-Sun Sept 16 Kota Yamazaki/Fluid Hug-Hug, (glowing) It’s a dancing Benetton ad! (I hope that reference isn’t extinct.) Six black-andwhite-clad dancers from Japan, the United States, Ethiopia, and Senegal fluidly cavort amid shadows and chiaroscuro lighting in choreographer Kota Yamazaki’s (glowing). It’s a lovely dance, filled with synchronization, individual performances, and some graceful arm and leg flailing. With eerie music as the backdrop, it’s easy to overlook how seamlessly the dancers rise onto their toes, hovering and swaying like Lisa Marie’s alien gal in Mars Attacks! (How ’bout that reference?) COURTNEY FERGUSON Lincoln Hall at PSU, Sun Sept 9, 8:30 pm, $20-25 Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, Asalto al Agua Transparente (The Assault on Clear Waters) See Digging Up the Present on pg. 3 for more info. BodyVox, Mon Sept 10, 8:30 pm, Tues Sept 11-Wed Sept 12, 6:30 pm, $20-25 Perforations, curated by Zvonimir Dobrovic There’s a lot more to the Balkans than… well, all the terrible shit that usually comes to mind when someone says “Serbia.” In one of the most intriguing international showcases on the TBA schedule this year, Zvonimir Dobrovic— founder of Central and Eastern Europe’s largest performance festival—curates a night with three Serbian and Croatian artists, who will present site-specific music and performance that speaks to politics, national identity, and whatever else artists from the Balkans are worrying about these days. AH Washington High School, Mon Sept 10-Tues Sept 11, 8:30 pm, $15-20 Keith Hennessy/Circo Zero, Turbulence Turbulence is a dance about the economy. Therefore, it is scary and strange. Choreographed by Keith Hennessy and performed by currentevents-centric troupe Circo Zero, the “collaborative failure” includes roughly a dozen dancers who stretch, writhe, and fall like the dollar. At moments in the piece, the dancers’ faces are wrapped in gold-sequin fabric that hangs like glittering detainee bag-masks. Together, the dancers form human pyramids and body piles and roil in clumps like hell-bound figures from “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” While the group created the piece before Occupy started, its message will surely still hit home. SARAH MIRK Imago Theatre, Tues Sept 11-Fri Sept 14 8:30 pm, $20-25 Sam Green and Yo La Tengo, The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller See Bringing Up Bucky on pg. 7 for more info. Washington High School, Wed Sept 12, 6:30 & 8:30 pm, $20-25 Faustin Linyekula/Studios Kabako, Le Cargo Faustin Linyekula will be onstage all alone, surrounded by a circle of spotlights. You will watch the ropy muscles of his arms, the giant muscles of his thighs, as the language of his movements guides you through the country
Voices and Echoes curated by Aki Onda See Other Voices, Other Rooms on pg. 9 for more info. Lincoln Hall at PSU, Sun Sept 16, 5 pm, $15-20
Laurie Anderson, Dirtday! Laurie Anderson sets a high bar for performance artists: At age 65, her work continues to engage meaningfully with the world around her. Anderson’s 40-year career encompasses chart-topping pop hits (1981’s “O Superman”), collaborations with the likes of William S. Burroughs and Lou Reed (and Peter Gabriel!), and even the invention of her own musical instruments. A returning TBA artist, this year Anderson performs Dirtday!, which combines music and storytelling to create a narrative that engages with contemporary political discourse, including the politics of the Occupy movement. AH Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Sun Sept 16, 7:30 pm, $15-75 End Things See The Thing of It All on pg. 9 for more info on the visual art programming.
The Works Venus X One of NYC’s most sought-after DJs, Venus X (Jazmin Venus Soto) creates an intelligent storm of sound on her turntables. Mixing an insane mélange of musical styles—including such disparate genres as Dominican dembow, underground rap, and Turkish techno that’s cut and mixed with spoken samples—Venus X practically brings her sweaty, demographically diverse crowds to an ecstatic riot. She was the hit of New York Fashion Week, and her regular GHE20GOTH1K dance nights have reportedly brought new life and energy to a flagging NYC nightlife. But most of all, she’s bringing a new, thoughtful narrative to the art of DJing. If you believe your ass is connected to your brain, don’t miss Venus X—she’ll shake it all. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Washington High School, Thurs Sept 6, 10:30 pm, free Christeene Called “the filthy future of drag,” a “drag terrorist,” and a “sexually infused sewer of live rap,” queer performance artist Christeene (Paul Soileau) takes rapping to a new… I was going to say “level,” but let’s go with “alternate universe.” Dressed in a filthy wig, and sporting broken teeth and a penis barely disguised by nude pantyhose, Christeene writes and performs incontrovertibly grotesque Dirty South-style raps such as “Fix My Dick,” “African Mayonnaise,” and the subtly titled “Tears from My Pussy.” And as dirty (and catchy!) as her songs may be, expect even more hilariously filthy onstage shenanigans. (Eating pudding out of a backup dancer’s butt is not unheard of.) You’ll be pleased to note that beneath the nymphomaniacal persona, there beats the heart of a sweet and canny performer. Fri Sept 7, 10:30 pm, $5-7 10 Tiny Dances Some of the work at TBA is hard to watch. Ten Tiny Dances is the opposite. It’s a thrill and a joy and a downright good time, an always-lively series of 10 new dances by 10 different artists that’s become a must-see audience favorite since the series debuted in 2002. The fun of 10 Tiny Dances comes from its
film and dance program, include past and present Portlanders Alicia McDaid, Tanya Smith, Woolly Mammoth Comes to Dinner’s Kathleen Keogh, and more. While not necessarily terrifying, some of their past pieces have seen bewigged anthropological studies, amusing cable access parodies, and colorful dance pieces. “Vagina Monologues on nitrous oxide wearing strap-on penises.” Next up is Portland filmmaker Weston Currie, who’s screening a new film with a live soundtrack from Grouper’s Liz Harris. Currie and Harris make for a powerful and spooky team—for proof, see their Sundance-approved The Perception of Moving Targets. Ending the evening on a manic high note, you can play B-Movie Bingo to the “Butthorn!”-screaming antics of everyone’s beloved wall-eyed nutjob, Gary Busey, who stars as loose cannon Frank “Butthorn” McBain in 1988’s Bulletproof. CF Washington High School, Tues Sept 11, 10:30 pm, $5-7 Parenthetical Girls Anyone who’s seen Parenthetical Girls—the art-pop troupe of former Mercury Music Editor Zac Pennington—knows they’re no strangers to over-the-top drama. And while the PGs have been doing their finest work yet with the Privilege EP series and an absolutely outstanding live show, tonight offers a look back at their Parenthetical past. Members of the band’s previous incarnations also perform tonight—musical guests include Golden Retriever, Classical Revolution PDX, and Jherek Bischoff—and choreographer Allie Hankins presents a dance performance. Knowing what the band is capable of doing in a shitty, barebones club, this is going to be colossal, and very possibly insane. NL Washington High School, Wed Sept 12, 10:30 pm, $5-7 Alexis Blair Penney A cross between Boy George, Annie Lennox, and Quentin Crisp, Alexis Blair Penney’s gorgeous vocals set him apart from your average lip-syncing drag artist. Perhaps best known for his 2011 heart-breaking club banger “Lonely Sea,” Alexis is also a well regarded writer, DJ, and personality in the NYC and Bay Area scenes, as well as a provider of vocal backing for such noteworthy bands as the Miracles Club, Hunx and his Punx, and more—though his TBA performance promises something even more dramatic. Performing a live “TV special,” Penney will sing a gut-punching litany of emotionally tinged classics along with songs from his upcoming album—interspersed, of course, with dark humor, snappity-snap monologues, and hot diva goodness. WSH Washington High School, Thurs Sept 13, 10:30 pm, $5-7 Thu Tran, The Yes and No of Blacklight Food See Crackpot Cookery on pg. 13 for more info. Washington High School, Fri Sept 14, 10:30 pm, $5-7 Fade to Mind The LA-based Fade to Mind DJ conglomerate (and record label) traffics in clattering rhythms and off-kilter chirps, all anchored by gut-punching lows and sonic booms. They’ve taken the harsh, electronic timbres of grime and house and recast them into a challenging and disorienting club sound, which they stitch in and out of more familiar, ear-pleasing R&B. You’ll certainly be able to dance to it, but you’re not gonna end up in the same place you started. NL Washington High School, Sat Sept 15, 10:30 pm, $5-7 Claire L. Evans, Restore from Backup See Online Relationship Management on pg. 13 for more info. PICA, Thurs Sept 13, 12:30 pm, free
August 30, 2012 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide P15
Time means nothing in a
float tank. A float tank is essentially the perfect bath tub. They vary in size, but the typical tank is 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. It holds about a foot of water, which is saturated with 850 pounds of Epsom salt. This creates a solution more buoyant than the Dead Sea, and you float on your back about half in and half out of the water. Air is allowed to freely flow in and out, and the door never locks or latches. The water itself is kept at the average skin temperature of 93.5°, which allows you to lose track of your body. The tank is sound proof and, when you turn off the light, completely dark. p No gravity, no touch, no sound, and no sight.
SE Hawthorne & 45th • floathq.com • 503.384.2620 P16 Portland Mercury’s TBA Guide August 30, 2012