In a cruel twist of fate, Disjecta's elusive definition--which is actually a Latin word meaning "scattered remains or fragments"--became all too apt when the arts organization lost its lease. Artists and audiences were forced to find other venues, while Disjecta itself became an idea without a home.
But rather than packing it in or looking for a similar space, Disjecta director Bryan Suereth saw the setback as an opportunity to do something bigger. He teamed up with a staff of volunteers and they began raising funds, building relationships, and looking for a newer, huger space. Finally settling on the Templeton building, Disjecta opens its proposed new location this week for what will amount to a three-weekend preview of what it hopes to provide: a gigantic, versatile programming space for contemporary regional and international art with a heavy emphasis on emerging trends and interdisciplinary collaboration. In other words, it plans on supplying a new definition not only for Disjecta, but for Portland's entire arts scene.
DONUTS AND FEELINGS
Over the coming weeks, the exposed brick walls and tattered innards of the Templeton building, which until recently was still an auto parts warehouse, will be juxtaposed with suspended white walls, polished walkways and numerous exhibits. NY-based artist Theo Angell will bring the dark basement space to life with flickering video installations, art catalogue Portland Modern will present the work by two of the local artists from its second issue, and Portland art collective M.O.S.T. will pack side rooms with their other-worldly explorations--and that doesn't even include the largest exhibits.
Former Portland resident and Red Shoe Delivery Service co-conspirator, Chris Moss, has curated the ninth incarnation of the Donut Shop. Billed as a "forum for imaginative art in purposefully non-traditional environments," Moss' collection of emerging international artists seems like the perfect fit for the Templeton's raw interior.
Two prominent members of Disjecta's advisory board, Nan Curtis (director of the Feldman Gallery at PNCA) and Stephanie Snyder (director of the Cooley Art Gallery at Reed College), have joined forces to present Complex. The co-curators have tapped into what Snyder calls a "growing group of women artists in Portland who are working in the genre of installation with 'obsessive material acts'--accumulation, classification, archiving, etc., and who also weave a sense of domestic craft into their work." Exploring themes of emotional and psychological exposure, the three artists in Complex--Shawna Ferreira, Jacinda Russell, and Heather Watkins--utilize video, installation, sound, found objects, photography, drawing and a "manifestation of ephemeral media such as memory and sensory perception."
JUMP ROPES, PUPPERS, AND FEEDBACK
Countless hours of staring at visual art makes audiences want to kick back some drinks and blow off a little steam. It's an age-old art world fact that Disjecta is well aware of, so they've planned multiple nights of entertaining performance art and music careening from a "Northwest post-punk summit," to a double-dutch jump rope world championship, to a cross-pollination of music, poetry, and film.
The first such evening (Tuesday, June 7) features Olympia's Spiders and Webs, Seattle's Shoplifting, and Portland's own Get Hustle. Each band prompts comparisons to the Velvet Underground and various experimental acts on both sides of the proto/post-punk divide, which means that this might be as close to Warhol's factory as any of us are going to get. You can buy beer there, but I would suggest bringing your own silver wig.
What is the opposite of punk? Double Dutch, of course. But this performance (on Friday, June 10) guarantees more than pig-tailed girls chanting harmless songs and giggling as they jump rope; it's a West Coast jump-off featuring edgy, bizarre troupes from Seattle and San Francisco. Seattle crew, On the Double, are known to wear crinolines and aprons, while San Francisco's Double Dutchess features performers with names like Valtronic and Switchblade. This schoolyard-cum-performance art will be followed up by Daniel Addy's aerial dance group, Aviator, finishing off an evening of gravity-defying amusement and beauty.
The final night of performance this month (Friday, June 17) features some hometown favorites engaged in interdisciplinary exploration. Songwriter Tara Jane O'Neil has collaborated with poet/performer Fred Nemo, creating a sound-based project that promises to involve puppetry. Rounding out the bill, filmmaker Matt McCormick will present a new work, The Coast Starlight, an audio/visual presentation involving soundscape and projector manipulation.
ART ON THE BLOCK
The volunteers behind Disjecta are hoping that the coming weeks give audiences a glimpse of the possibilities that exist at the Templeton Building. There is more fundraising and work ahead to secure the space, but perhaps the most encouraging sign of success is the auction that will be held on the closing night of this whopping preview party (Saturday, June 18). Hosted by performer A.C. Dickson and City Commissioner Sam Adams, the event features a truly impressive list of talent from Portland and beyond, all of whom are willing to support Disjecta's vision with their time and work.
"This is a chance to see an amazingly wide spectrum of emerging artists," says director Bryan Suereth. "These are the artists who will be in museum collections and this is an opportunity to pick up their work now."
Despite setbacks and tough odds, Disjecta has prospered because of hard work and an arts community that is hungry for bigger and better things. After losing their old building, the staff clung to a more liberal definition of its group's chaotic Latin moniker. "Disjecta is, essentially, the creative process left behind when a piece of art is presented as complete," their newly launched website announces. "[It] celebrates the creative process as paramount to the finished product."
That is what the coming weeks are all about for the burgeoning nonprofit--celebrating the process and bringing the public into a lively artistic atmosphere that it hopes to sustain long into the future.
UPCOMING DISJECTA EVENTS
Opening Night Reception
Music: Shoplifting, The Get Hustle, Spider and the Webs
Performance: Double Dutchess vs. On the Double, Daniel Addy's Aerial Dance Troupe, and possibly a special appearance by The Famous Mysterious Actor
Music: Tara Jane O'Neil, Fred Nemo, Matt McCormick & Guests
Art on the Block: An Auction to Benefit Disjecta; Hosted by AC Dickson and Commissioner Sam Adams; Music by Clampitt, Gaddis & Buck