Get yer TBA tickets! Get yer TBA tickets!
The official TBA Box Office is in the PICA building, 1122 NW Glisan, and is the best place to hit up for tickets, which run from around $10 for individual events all the way up to a $500 Patron Pass that gives you full access to everything, including VIP dinners. Can't get downtown during the day? Then call 224-PICA, or visit the website at www.pica.org.
As the great Billy Joel once said, "And so it goes, and so it goes, and so will you soon, I suppose." (Sniff. It's... so... true!) Every year, PICA's Time-Based Arts Festival goes away... but unlike Billy's unrequited love, every year the TBA Fest also comes back! And with a whole new 10-day lineup (Sept. 9-18) of fabulously artsy events trailing in its wake! From ripe family suppers to nightly cabaret-style schmooze bashes, to amazing workshops led by amazing artists, to the usual massive glut of plain old performances, the TBA lineup is committed to making your cultural absorption fun again. We're not going to even try to tackle everything that's happening at this thing—for that you'll want to find the complete schedule at www.pica.org/tba2005—but we can offer up some highlights to alleviate your overwhelming task of choosing what to see. Now in its third season and only getting stronger, it appears that TBA is here to stay...
This year's TBA late night music program features a particularly exciting cast of artists stepping it up for the fancy-pants crowd—trading in the clamor of drunken nightclub idiots for that of wine-sipping sophisticates, not to mention the piece of mind that comes with finally putting that liberal arts degree to some use. (All musical events start at 10 pm at the WORKS, NW 18th & Northrup!)
Perhaps most notable is the Friday, Sept 16 appearance by New York's Antony & the Johnsons, whose last Portland show gill-packed the Doug Fir back in March. No stranger to the gallery set, Antony's very persona comes off like high art—a meticulously androgynous figure whose gut-wrenching voice rings with shades of Jimmy Scott and Nina Simone.
Also of musical note is the Thursday, Sept 15 collaborative cabaret Ladies of the Lake. Curated by PICA darling Khaela Maricich (better known as half of K Records electro-duo the Blow), Ladies features contributions from the musical likes of Anna Oxygen, Pash, Jenn Kliese, and Mirah (who, incidentally, also performs on Sunday, Sept 11 with Spectratone International and cellist Lori Goldston). Another pair of former Olympians—Tracy + the Plastics' Wynne Greenwood and ?Fact or Fiction's Radio Sloan—share the stage on Tuesday, Sept 13 for a back to back performance. Tracy and her oft-misunderstood, honestly very brilliant Plastics soar beyond all of those other trifling, pseudo-performance art electro ensembles whose CDs clog the used bins these days.
Also watch for Slow Starlight Meet 'n Greet, a bloated A/V explosion featuring performances by INVISIBLE, White Light, Honey Owens, and more (Saturday, Sept 10), I've Got a Bullet Proof Heart featuring Kiki & Herb's Kenny Mellman (Monday, Sept 12), Victoria Hanna and Miss Murgatroid (Wednesday, Sept 14), and Titán (Saturday, Sept 17). ZP
Hans Weigand—Jerry Cotton: The Portland Episodes, Guild Theatre, 829 SW 9th, Sept 10 & 11 @ 6 pm, $6-7
With Jerry Cotton: The Portland Episodes, Austrian filmmaker Hans Weigand continues his episodic riff on the pulp hero, Jerry Cotton, who has starred in some 2,500 German dime store novels of the same name since 1956. With a requisite wah-wah guitar soundtrack and endless gangland hits, Weigand's Jerry Cotton pokes fun at the ridiculously low production values of B-movies and the overly complicated narratives of the spy genre. Populated by Mafioso artist types and senseless deaths galore, Jerry Cotton skewers the contemporary art market as a world every bit as cutthroat, incestuous, and driven by power-hungry thugs as the crime underworld. Watch for numerous cameos from Portland's art scenesters. JM
How We Investigate—Guild Theater, 829 SW 9th, Sept17-18 @ 4 pm, $6-7
The sheer diversity and scatter-shot range of artists and subject matter contained in How We Investigate could make this showcase of regional talent one of the most interesting programs of this year's festival. Billed as a rumination of "perception, motion, and procreation," Portland artists working in video, mass media, photography, and PowerPoint explore our Post-Everything civilization while dipping into realms of fantastic narrative. Artists and filmmakers such as Matt McCormick, Cat Solen, Gretchen Hogue, and Ryan Jeffrey constitute the bulk of How We Investigate, which will be capped off by a PowerPoint presentation by Portland whiz Mike Wilder on the topic of "how humans perceive the world." All this in just 90 minutes! CB
Guy Dartnell—Travels With My Virginity, Winningstad Theatre in the PCPA Building, 1111 SW Broadway, Sept. 9-10 @ 7:30 pm, $10-15
OK, it has got to suck when the new solo performance that you've been working on for years—a one-man show about being a virgin at the age of 19—gets trumped by a movie called—what else?—The 40 Year-Old Virgin. But beyond their chaste-but-horny premises, there should be no confusing these two shows. British actor and writer Dartnell's work centers on his sojourn to get his cherry popped in France—a freewheeling road trip into European eccentricities and vagrancies. Earlier works by Dartnell have been described in the press as "intermittently funny," "curious," "unsettling," and "disturbing." CB
Carl H. Rux—Mycenaean, Portland Opera Studio, 211 SE Caruthers, Sept 16-18, 7 pm, $10-15
A playwright, poet, and musician, Rux is fucking brilliant. He has taken his recent novel Asphalt and his epic poem Mycenaean and merged them into a multimedia performance involving video and an electronic musical score. With Asphalt following a hiphop DJ in post-apocalyptic Brooklyn, are we to expect a world where Princess Superstar is Athena and Kool Keith Zeus? Unlikely, but small doses of Greek mythology should be expected—not to mention anachronistic cunning. Rux ain't too bad-looking, either. WG
Ivana Müller—How Heavy are My Thoughts, Winningstad Theatre in the PCPA Building, 1111 SW Broadway, Sept 12–14 @ 6 pm, $10-15
This year's face of TBA (she's on the cover of the schedule, that is), the Croatian-born artist Ivana Müller continues the art world's current obsession with the mock PowerPoint presentation in How Heavy are My Thoughts, an intersection of science and theater that dares to wonder if "heavy thoughts" make for a heavier head. Alongside collaborators Bill Aitchison and Nils De Coster, Müller subjects herself to a number of "scientific" tests that explore thinking as a bodily function—from weighing her head on a scale during sessions of "heavy" and "light" thinking to receiving an MRI scan of her own brain. JM
Allen Johnson—Another You, Corberry Press, NW 17th & Northrup, Sept. 9-11, 8:30 pm, $10-15
Profane as fuck, Allen Johnson is a former-truck driver-turned-poet offering up a one-man show. Another You is a series of interwoven, monologues examining intimacy, vulnerability, and irreverence. Johnson's verbal precision is astounding, and word is there's a bit in the show about a sexual act with a vacuum cleaner at age 17. Sounds like a good way to commemorate September 11 this year. (Capacity at this one is just 100, so even if you've got a full pass, reservations are necessary.) WG
DJ Spooky—Rebirth of a Nation, Newmark Theatre in the PCPA Building, 1111 SW Broadway, Sept 9 & 10 @ 9 pm, $15-20
In the mid-1990s, DJ Spooky was the Godfather of postmodern turntablism, creating amazing sonic textures from samples and scratches. As his recording career progressed, each album became more and more didactic, lecturing the audience on the historical and cultural significance of turntable culture. At the same time, he began creating gallery installations and writing scholarly texts about art, music, and technology. Soon, he had made a complete transition from funky DJ to highbrow intellectual artist. In Rebirth of a Nation, Spooky remixes D.W. Griffith's pro-KKK film Birth of a Nation on three video screens, interspersing new audio and video elements, including footage from the Bill T. Jones Dance Company. CB
Meow Meow—NW Neighborhood Cultural Center, 1819 NW Everett, Sept 14-17 @ 9 pm, $15-20
Meow Meow's apocalyptic, schizoid, post-punk, paranoid, trashy, glamorous, operatic, kamikaze, decadent, downward spiral of classy self-immolation was made for a festival like this. She's an ecstatic showstopper who comes across as a loose cannon, but really has her performative persona down pat. Her piece this year is described as being "for extreme voice, statistics, and toy piano" and aimed towards an exploration of romantic love. I saw Meow Meow last year and was left all atwitter with her untamed antics and glitzy musicality. It's the kind of thing that really puts you in the mood to drink gin, smoke anything, and wear sequins if possible. EJ
W+K Tokyolab—The WORKS, NW 18th & Northrup, Sept 9 @ 10 pm, $5-10
W+K Tokyolab is a new music label launched by the Wieden + Kennedy agency's satellite office in Japan. The idea behind their creations revolves around the concept of "hybrid." The breakbeat duo Hifana, for example, will perform their Tokyo-renowned set of dazzling visuals and sound creations (which draw upon samplers, human beatboxing, scratching, traditional instruments, and Okinawan music). The whole graphic aesthetic circling around W+K Tokyolab seems to be a combination of simplicity, pop sprawl, breath mint-fresh color schemes, and digital web magic. Check it out here: www.wktokyolab.com. Even if you don't attend tonight's label showcase, it's worth having a look at the slick design and listening to some of the captivating beats. EJ
White Rainbow—ongoing at Corberry Press, NW 17th & Northrup
Musician Adam Forkner, AKA White Rainbow, is at the forefront of Portland's experimental psychedelic movement. His band World, which Forkner comprises with his partner Honey Owens, is a startlingly emotive and moving abstract ensemble that finds the duo alternately screaming, twiddling knobs, thumping tablas, and manipulating guitar feedback with an unnerving sense of control and architecture. For TBA, Forkner is creating a 10-day trip-out center—a combination sound sculpture/video environment in the lobby of the Corberry Press. The artist plans to man the "temporary zome structure" for the duration of the festival, which should add multiple layers of intensity to his already passionate work. CB
Aphids—Skin Quartets, Wieden + Kennedy Atrium, 224 NW 13th, Sept. 15-17, 6 pm, $10-15
The Melbourne-based Aphids are often referred to as "strange." Their projects (since forming a decade ago) have used puppets, fashion, visual art, film, theater, and music. The U.S. premiere of Skin Quartet employs only video projection and, fittingly, a string quartet, but is also inspired by rankings—as in, those lists of the world's countries by birth rate, population, and kilometers of navigable waterways in the World FactBook. Boasting 500+ video images of epidermis (and other things) set precisely to the music, Skin Quartet will be impressively skin crawling. WG
The M.O.S.T.—NW 11th between Marshall and Northrup, Sept. 8-16, Mon-Fri, 2-6 pm, Mostlandia Anthem performed daily, 5:53 pm
Finally, Portland arts collective The M.O.S.T. gives you a chance to explore the sophisticated inner-workings and bureaucracy of the Mostlandian government. Okay, so Mostlandia isn't an actual place, but, for the duration of TBA, the "fantastic psycho-geographic location that exists between the locations of the four members of the M.O.S.T." will be taking on an empirical form in Northwest Portland. Visitors to the Mostlandian Embassy can expect plenty of audience interaction, cheeky governmental parody, and, in typical Mostlandian fashion, lots and lots of ice cream. JM
PINKK/Laura Curry—headquarters at OFFICE, 2204 NE Alberta, Tues-Sat 11 am-7 pm, Sun 12-5 pm, free
The idea here is that multimedia artist Laura Curry will be setting up media kiosks, field recordings, and political canvassers paid on commission (just kidding, although they might be there anyway) near various TBA locations, in order to gather Portland stories and experiences. The stories will be given concrete form as a cumulative installation in OFFICE, that new store on Alberta. Like Alberta Street itself, the installation will grow in density and sensory ove rload until TBA is over and I can finally buy a new laptop bag again at OFFICE. EJ
Vaux's Swifts—Chapman Elementary, 1445 NW 26th, every evening just before dusk, free
One of my favorite things about this festival is the broad applicability of its curatorial concept. This year, Vaux's Swifts—the thousands-strong cyclone of birds that have been diving into the chimney of the Chapman School in Northwest every September for decades—have wisely catapulted their career by signing on as a troupe of TBA performance artists. Jokes aside, the annual event is a truly spectacular Portland tradition, and anybody with a free evening, a bottle of wine, and blanket, should go have a look. EJ
Incoming TBA director—Kristy Edmunds farewell party at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Sept. 8 @ 9 pm, free
It's by now a well-known fact that after this year's TBA Festival, Kristy Edmunds is stepping down from her role as PICA founder/artistic director. She'll turn the reigns over to independent curator Mark Russell, who will serve as guest director of the 2006/2007 TBA seasons. Russell brings 20-plus years of experience as the artistic director at New York City's P.S. 122, a performance space that has set the tone for the city's best experimental theater and performance art and launched the careers of Eric Bogosian and Spalding Gray. A few days before he headed out to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Russell talked to me about Portland, performance, and following in the footsteps of a local legend.
Around here, Kristy is regarded as nothing short of messianic. Any trepidation about filling those big shoes?
Oh, yeah. Big time. There's no way I could do what Kristy has done, but, at the same time, I don't have to be Kristy Edmunds. I see this as a real opportunity to come in and interface with the community, which will be exciting since Portland is such a great cultural scene with lots of people making art without being pretentious about it. But I've known Kristy for a long time and no one can speak about the contemporary arts the way she can.
I read in an obituary you wrote for Spalding Gray in The Village Voice that, when you were at the University of Texas, you were searching for the theatrical equivalent of rock 'n' roll. Are you still looking for art that embodies those qualities?
What I respond to is really visceral art. I'm looking for things that can communicate across wide chasms. And that's what I really loved so much about Spalding's work. You could present it to a group of nuclear scientists or a group of truck drivers and they'd all get it.
What personal stamp will you bring to the next two years of TBA?
What I've been most interested in lately is sort of experimental contemporary theater. I've been compiling a wish list of artists and it's several pages long. I do take the title "Time Based Art" very seriously, and I'm looking at a lot of work you simply cannot categorize. Whether you call it live art, experimental theater, or whatever, I think that's the kind of art that has the most to say right now and definitely needs the most exposure. JOHN MOTLEY