THE PORTLAND Institute for Contemporary Art recently announced the lineup for the 2012 Time-Based Art festival, an annual 11-day celebration of contemporary performing and visual art, music, and film. (Plus: pretentious conversations, food-cart tacos, and the occasional experience of having your mind blown by world-class art.) This year marks the 10th anniversary of TBA, and the first year with new permanent Artistic Director Angela Mattox at the helm. (Since 2006, TBA has operated under a "guest artistic director" model, which saw festival directors commuting from across the country for the three-year engagement; as permanent director, Maddox will live in Portland year round.)
When I met with Mattox to discuss 2012's lineup and her approach to curating the festival, one thing that strongly emerged was a commitment to presenting artists from different backgrounds, working at different points in their careers. Accordingly, Maddox has curated a far more global lineup than in years past, with artists from the Balkans, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Japan, Mexico, and elsewhere. Maddox was also more willing than past artistic directors have been to discuss explicit themes in her programming, particularly in light of the international scope of the artists represented. "Themes can help contexualize work for the audience," she explains, "and help to create connections that might be closer to home, [around issues like] freedom of speech and response to crisis." Other emergent themes include resistance to oppression, democracy, globalization, and identity. "These are mature artists dealing with real themes," Maddox says. "We want to foreground the significance of what these artists are undertaking."
Returning artists include renowned performance artist/musician Laurie Anderson, choreographer Miguel Gutierrez, and British performance artist Tim Etchells (who has co-created a guided performance for two audience members at a time that'll take place in the Central Library). Other intriguing acts include a collaboration between Yo La Tengo and San Francisco filmmaker Sam Green, and a live reenactment of the films of Andy Warhol.
But TBA's not until September. For a more immediate festival fix, this weekend Water in the Desert presents the increasingly ambitious the 1 Festival, which invites artists from around the country to produce work in a range of mediums, all on the theme of "one."
The fest showcases a few familiar faces on the local theater scene. Elizabeth Huffman (who recently directed the Miracle Theatre's Oedipus el Rey) takes on two characters separated by 2,000 years, both obsessed with Euripides' play The Trojan Women. Eric Hull, who won a Drammy Award for his performance alongside William Hurt in Artists Rep's Long Day's Journey into Night, takes inspiration for his own solo performance from the writing of Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. And then there's Cindy Tennant and Her Magic Boobs, a one-woman show about (surprise!) eating disorders. The show I'm most interested in comes from Brooklyn-and Portland-based performer Damaris Webb: The Box Marked Black is about growing up in an interracial family, and promises a no-doubt highly respectful reenactment of Roots as performed by sock puppets.
And finally, preliminary details just emerged about the Projects, a festival of experimental comics and narrative art scheduled for October. According to its website, the Projects will be an art-based festival that "leaves behind the flat model of comics as commerce" and provides a space for artists and audience members to interact and experiment. Participants so far include Floating World Comics and local publisher Sparkplug; the festival will take place at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, as well as galleries and shops around town. For more details, see theprojectspdx.tumblr.com.