We shall thus be thankful for Reed College's annual Arts Week (R.A.W.), occurring this weekend, March 3-6. It's an edifying festival of events and activities like others of its ilk--but it also operates under a refreshingly non-threatening premise: Find really cool artists from all different mediums; let people watch 'em.
Centered around the theme "Lost and Found," this year's Arts Week features acclaimed performers, visual artists, filmmakers, and people that fall somewhere in between from all over the country, most of whom will strut their stuff for FREE--or if not, for an incredibly cheap price. God love the liberal arts colleges and their massive, massive financial endowments. And God love this, the Mercury's official guide to what's HOT at 2005's Reed Arts Week…
Joanie 4 Jackie
5 pm, Psychology Auditorium, Rm. 105
Founded 10 years ago by performing/filmmaking sensation Miranda July, the Joanie 4 Jackie organization is the poster child for underground, DIY community art. Here's how it works: Any woman (sorry, fellas) can send her movie to Joanie 4 Jackie headquarters (currently at the Bard College Film Department, PO Box 5000, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504). In return she receives a videotape containing 10 "lady-made" movies, including her own. The tapes are compiled and sold as "Chainletter videos" for a mere $10 each.
The videos I've seen have run the gamut from pretty incredible to "well, I hope that was cathartic for the filmmaker." After a decade, Joanie 4 Jackie is still going strong, which is pretty remarkable, and brings to mind the semi-famous quote from Francis Ford Coppola: "To me the great hope is that now these little video recorders are around, and people who normally wouldn't make movies are going to be making them. And suddenly, one day some little girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart and make a beautiful film with her father's camcorder, and for once, the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form." CB
8 pm, Student Union
It's amazing nobody came up with Davy Rothbart's idea first. Surely people have tried similar ideas, but nobody has pulled it off quite like Found Magazine. The concept is remarkably simple: the magazine collects found items--threatening notes, photographs, old answering machine tapes--and presents them with minimal commentary. These anthropological treasures are both hysterical and heartbreaking. One Post-it declares, in scratchy writing, "Ouch! Barb, I thought this was a cookie!" Another note, signed by "Mom" reads, "Get a cheap haircut! This is all I had." Rothbart has parlayed the success of Found into a mini-cottage industry, with appearances on This American Life, a "best of" book, a new Dirty Found, featuring their more titillating discoveries, and 7" records of found audio. Like the best documentary films and writings, the pages of Found present a vision of contemporary life that is more fascinating and poignant than most invented stories. CB
Guerrilla Girls: Bitches, Bimbos, and Ballbreakers
7 pm, Kaul Auditorium, $5
The Guerrilla Girls were an unbelievably relevant, biting, and hilarious staple of the art world in the '80s and '90s. Comprised of anonymous female artists who only appeared in gorilla masks, the GGs fought for women's equality in the arts using startling statistics about gender equality and impossible-to-ignore poster, sticker, and public appearance campaigns. One billboard attacking the Metropolitan Museum of Art pointed out that "Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female." Another poster assured Jesse Helms that the art world is his sort of place after all, complete with a list of observations about the white male imbalance at major museums and galleries.
In the past 10 years, however, the Guerrilla Girls' message has lost its edge, as they began to attack Hollywood, George Bush, and female stereotypes in general. 2005 marks the 20th year of the group's activities, and their message is as relevant as ever. Their delivery, on the other hand, has become tiresome, and the masks don't carry the same menacing weight as they did 15 years ago. But the battles that the Guerrilla Girls so brilliantly laid out must continue, so how about we all attend tonight's lecture/performance and figure out new ways to fight the good fight? CB
screenings, 4 pm
Psychology Auditorium, Rm. 105
Google turns up nearly 46,000 results for the word "microcinema," which is not bad for a term that just came of age in the last eight to 10 years. Although each microcinema has it's own peculiar twist, the idea remains constant throughout--film nuts create small alternative spaces to screen underground and experimental films that you would otherwise never see in your wildest dreams. Portland is lucky enough to have it's own microcinema, and it goes by the name of Cinema Project. The trio who currently run Cinema Project, Autumn Campbell, Pablo de Ocampo, and Jeremy Rossen, have leanings toward fairly heady, political films that fly far below the radar of your average megaplex. Among film geeks, however, their selection of screenings are impeccable. They have exhibited works by Stan Brakhage, Yoko Ono, and Chantal Ackerman, amongst others. For Reed Arts Week, they have put together a program involving several found narratives by Abigail Child, Charlotte Pryce, Julie Murray, and Rabih Mroue, with topics ranging from families with fantasies of homicide to the rhythms of insects in flight. CB
ONGOING DURING REED ARTS WEEK
The M.O.S.T., Mostlandia Misplaced Items Authority, Gray Campus Center, office hours Thurs-Sun 12-8 pm, "field hours"
12 pm-late daily
The M.O.S.T. is a local group of performance artists perhaps best known for discovering the fantastical land of Mostlandia. Okay, so not everyone knows about Mostlandia yet, but with the group touting it as a "place where one is in a state of constant contentment," it is bound to be crowded soon.
For R.A.W., The M.O.S.T. have created the Mostlandia Misplaced Items Authority (M.I.A.), which will reunite people with their lost objects. Interested parties should stop by their temporary office at Reed, at which point they will be assigned a field agent who will promptly pursue their misplaced item. This is utopian bureaucracy with a smiling face. It's performance art for an absentminded audience. It just might be the last chance to find your friend's mix-CD that you've been burning for, like, two months. I know it sounds hopeless, but these people have already discovered one previously unknown otherworld, so maybe they know of some places you haven't looked yet. RD
Red76, Blow Back, showing at the Hauser Memorial Library & Kaul Auditorium Foyer, through March 27
Last summer, Red76 took part in the Playpen exhibition at the Drawing Center in New York City. The Portland-based group devised the "NY Public Archive," a project that asked New Yorkers to record their stories and comments. Red76 distributed stickers, posters, and books throughout the city, recruiting people to come to one of their metallic foldout booths, where they could use colored pencils to craft their narrative. "The point was to glean an archive of thoughts and hopes from random New Yorkers and redistribute the materials back to the citizens of New York to facilitate the sharing of stories and power of openness," says Red76er Sam Gould.
The results consist of "pleas for peace, confessions of identity, lists of things people had seen that day, abstractions, love notes, diary entries, detailed drawings, and tons more." Blow Back, a collection of the original archive, related documentation, ephemera, and even one of the metal booths, will be on display at Reed through the end of March. In one of the thousands of contributions, a childlike rendering of Christ on the cross reads, "I love Jesus… he died for our sins." Meanwhile, another New Yorker grapples with a different loss of faith: "I have herpes, and I'll never be in love again." As it turns out, people have pretty diverse ways of viewing the world.
You Are Beautiful, installation art ongoing in Main Quad Area; interactive exhibit Standing People Thursday March 3, 2 pm; closing receptionSunday March 6, 1 pm, Vollum Lounge
Corporate culture will swallow any form of artistic expression, turning it into another way to sell useless shit to a bored, uninspired public. They put out Xeroxed "zines." They hire kids to illegally poster and sticker "target markets." Balding, middle-age brand managers write manifestos on guerilla marketing campaigns, daydreaming about graffiti and little consumers on skateboards.
So how can real artists differentiate themselves from the white noise of corporate pushers? According to You Are Beautiful, a group of artists from Chicago, IL, you co-opt the medium of commercialism and advertising to spread your own positive message. "It all comes down to intention," the group says. "Nothing is sacred."
Their message boils down to three simple words: "You Are Beautiful." The phrase has been printed on stickers, which have been mailed throughout the world free of charge. It's been placed under bridges and on highway poles, ready at any moment to seep into the subconscious of frustrated commuters. Other projects have been more overt (utilizing urban water towers, billboards or train cars) in the hopes of communicating with a shell shocked, alienated consumer culture.
The group will not only bring documentation of their past projects to R.A.W., they will also be creating new work during the week. They will be spelling "You Are Beautiful" with colored balls on a hill and have asked local artists to contribute one letter each, spelling out the phrase in differing mediums and designs. If you're itching to get involved yourself, they will also be spelling the phrase in Reed's main quad with standing people, and are encouraging everyone to join in. The more people the better. RD