What is time-based art? "I like to think of it as art that is completed when the artist and the audience are in the same time and space together," says Erin Boberg, co-curator for PICA's TBA Festival.
What purpose does this concept serve? "We tried to come up with a title that would allow us to include the broadest range of art we could," Erin continues, "and to adapt along with changes in what artists are making as the festival grows and develops." TBA has established itself as a unique cultural entity in Portland, not just encouraging public interest in performance art and hybrid works, but reasserting the symbiotic relationship between time-based artists and their audience. Rather than establish a strict conceptual limit that would restrict the development of new expressive forms, TBA provides artists the freedom to develop their own unique insights into the passage of time. The way the passage of time influences their work varies from artist to artist, which indicates the success of the curatorial concept: these are artists that are both free and disciplined, and free to find their own discipline. By wrestling with time, the musicians of TBA empower all of us--they are learning how to use music to master the moment, returning everybody in their ritual space to an ecstatic and revelatory engagement with the present.
I caught up with several of the musicians involved in TBA and asked them to comment on their inclusion in the festival. Bryce Dessner of Clogs, a quartet blending classical, rock, folk, and world genres, observed, "As a group, we're often walking the line between club and concert hall. Our music might be considered a little 'arty' for a club, and maybe a little 'dirty' for the classical amongst you. We actually enjoy the confusion." When asked to share his thoughts on the curatorial concept, he replied, "Our music is heavily improvised, and each performance is a reflection of what is happening in that series of moments between the musicians. The relationship between written music and improvised music is integral to our work; both represent models for observing, reflecting, and rejoicing in the passage of time." Clogs will be performing with Ethel, an avant-garde string quartet whose intrepid mutations of classical form effect an electrifying, incomparable sonic irreverence. (Wednesday, Sept 15, 10 pm)
Another exciting project is Transplant:France, a collaborative effort between French and American artists that has been described as one of the most technically complex performances of the festival. Their show aligns innovative video and multimedia technology with piano, clarinet, sax, and computerized instruments. One member, Mark Plummer, commented, "I think live music epitomizes time-based art. Every performance is unique. Even a virtuoso musician does not play the same piece of music the same way each time. Improvisation, a significant part of our show, is an even more poignant example, because the musical thoughts expressed are ephemeral and will never be expressed the same way again." (Sunday, Sept 19, 10 pm)
Also not to be missed:
States Rights Records Night
States Rights Records is a collection of young Portland artists that created their own label, providing laptop mavericks with a means to distribute their music independently. The bands include Lucky Dragons, Bobby Birdman, YACHT, and DJ Hot Air Balloon, a group who call their work New Genre/No Genre, but are described as having a happy, sunny vibe, and a great spirit that is uniquely Portland. (Thursday, Sept 16, 10 pm)
The members of Chicago/ Portland band Pulseprogramming put down their instruments for the evening to explore a new performative format: a cavalcade of ear-catching DJ sets, video, and groundbreaking bands, including: disco-trash wonders 01 (Popmusic), Valet, electronic dub experimentalists Nudge, and Riddenpaa, a more traditional rock outfit reminiscent of Joy Division and Yo La Tengo. (Tuesday, Sept 14, 11 pm)
Kristy Edmunds, curator of TBA, spoke gold when she said, "Artists tend to be the very first when it comes to new, or atypical, or convention-bending ideas and aesthetic practices." All the musicians at the festival have revolutionary ideas to communicate to their audience, and are making significant contributions to an evolving conversation with time that we are all a part of.