This year, PICA’s Time-Based Art Festival will give us its requisite stretch of art at its best and worst and weirdest and most transcendent and uncomfortable. It’s like art school Christmas, and I’m ready for it, because TBA—for me—is always a reminder of just how much I love seeing performance art when it’s done well. But while the festival’s a chance to get acquainted with new work and the likelihood that some performance you didn’t plan on attending will leave you slack-jawed and giddy is all but guaranteed, I’m equally interested in pushing you toward the folks who are already making challenging and evocative art right here in Portland, and will just get to do it on a bigger stage when TBA rolls around. Here they are. Put them on your artsy dance card, and I’ll see you in the crowd.
Portland artist Demian DinéYazhi’ has been on my radar ever since his activist art initiative, R.I.S.E.: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment, received a grant from PICA’s Precipice Fund in 2014 to fund the intertribal arts festival One Flaming Arrow. DinéYazhi’’s ethos is grounded in queer feminist and indigenous identity, activism, and powerful opposition to heteropatriarchy and white supremacy. Whether it takes the form of poetry, visual work, or performance, DinéYazhi’’s body of work is equal parts urgent and lyrical. I see a lot of Portland art, and I can say with zero hesitation that he’s making some of the most vital work in the local scene. Miss a chance to engage with it at your peril. Sat Sept 16, PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock, 10:30 pm
Critical Mascara: A Post-Realness Drag Extravaganza
If you’ve never been to Pepper Pepper’s basically iconic TBA drag show Critical Mascara: A Post-Realness Drag Extravaganza, you might want to get on that this year, because you’re not getting another chance. That’s right, I have terrible news: This is Critical Mascara’s final year at the festival. I’m devastated. The only thing that’s getting me through is that drag clown Carla Rossi is yet again on the bill for this one, and every time I see her in action, she’s better and tackier and funnier than before. I’ll be the one in the front row crying through my glitter. Um, join me? Sat Sept 9, PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock, 10:30 pm
Keyon Gaskin and Sidony O’Neal
I can’t think of a better combination of artists than keyon gaskin and sidony o’neal. I mean, just look at this sampling of the promotional text for
Dead Thoroughbred, their TBA performance—and keep in mind that this form of writing is typically overblown and gross. “DT is a blackened performance that is never not happening,” it reads. “DT is après-queer and post-ratchet. DT is anti anti-capital capital... DT is useless currency devoid of value and wide in circulation. DT has null intention and null extension. DT is dead frivolous af.” Dead frivolous af! Look, keyon gaskin is one of the best performance artists I’ve seen ever, and sidony o’neal is a writer who makes poetry that’s sly and voluminous. Odds are good this performance will take on ideas and issues and old wounds in a way that makes you feel simultaneously very broken but also unable to disengage with what’s going on around you, leaving you both vulnerable and deeply grateful. If that sounds unappealing to you, you have no business attending a performance art festival. If that sounds familiar to you, you know it’s the purest and most rewarding experience of performance you can expect. Mon Sept 11, 8:30-9:20 pm, Tuesday Sept 12, 8:30 pm-9:20 pm, Wed Sept 13, 8:30 pm-9:20 pm