The world of challenging art and performance is typically portrayed as highbrow, eccentric, and exclusive. But the 2018 TBA festival is taking a big step towards inclusivity with a noticeably affordable show program. This year, only a handful of attractions at PICA’s eleven-day contemporary art festival cost more than $20 and many feature a sliding scale ticketing system with a free option. Here’s a look at six attractions that will make you feel like your parents paid for you to go to art school or—if your parents did pay for you to go to art school—like you actually went to class!
1. NIC Kay - PUSHIT! [Exercise 1 in Getting Well Soon]
Piedmont Neighborhood, Sun Sept 9, 3:30 pm, Tues Sept 11, 5:30 pm, $0–15
Bronx choreographer NIC Kay is waiting til 24 hours before to reveal the location of this site-specific performance, which may require the audience to walk for more than three miles. Location is a crucial element of Kay’s artistic practice. PUSHIT! asks if resistance can be choreographed, and “meditat[es] on emotional labor and the impossibility of the stage as a place of freedom for the Black performer.”
As modern day performers like RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni The Vixen refresh the resistance art sphere with expressly political drag, and Sherri Silver’s award-winning choreography for Childish Gambino’s “This is America” sublimates into internet memes, this meditation deserves at least three miles space.
2. Vaginal Davis - Sassafras, Cypress & Indigo — Black Images and the (E)motive Notion of Freakness
PICA, 15 NE Hancock, Wed Sept 12, 6:30, $0-15
Fans of local drag clown Carla Rossi are likely to engage with Berlin-based artist Vaginal Davis’ use of the lecture as comedic performance art. Davis delivers raw truths about white privilege and the patriarchy, prioritizing personal Black history through a queercore aesthetic. There's a robust depth to Davis’ body of work, which yearns for a deep dive. From a decade self-publishing the queer zine Fertile LaToya Jackson, to singing backup vocals with RuPaul in the late 80’s, to queering the media script on how to engage trans sex workers in the early 90’s, consider letting Davis export her queercore perspectives to you.
3. Autumn Knight - Sanity TV
PNCA’s Shipley/Collins Mediatheque, 511 NW Broadway, Room 107, Thurs Sept 13 & Fri Sept 14, 6:30 pm, $0-15
Do you think podcasts are art? Did you see The Eric Andre Show or Kristen Wiig’s Welcome to Me and wish you could attend a taping? Multidisciplinary artist Autumn Knight makes all your absurdist, horror-comedy dreams come true on her avant garde talk show that “holds no distinction between sanity and insanity” and “flexes the boundaries of identity and psyche.” You can get a sense of what you’re in for from this recording of Sanity TV’s holiday special, but there’s no way to prepare yourself for experiencing the show in person.
4. JI YAng - 脚儿粘地 FÓOT SÒN STÍCKY GRÒUND
PICA, 15 NE Hancock, Sat Sept 15, 11 am & 3:30 pm, Sun Sept 16, 11 am & 2:30 pm, $0-15
No more than 34 people, at a time, can embark on this global premiere slow walk performance by Chinese-born, Chicago-based puzzle maker and fiction builder JI YAng. Starting at PICA, YAng will slow walk with the group along a plotted path in the adjoining neighborhood, at points requiring participants to remove their shoes. If you’ve never gone on a slow walk before—check this description by Marina Abramović—it can be an intensely personal art experience and can leave the participant with a newfound appreciation for the world around them and the speed at which it moves.
5. The Last Artful, Dodgr
PICA, Sat Sept 15, 10 pm, $5-15
The Last Artful, Dodgr has had a busy year. Since being seen with Mark Ronson and Christina Aguilera on Instagram, she released a new single, a new music video, featured on Chanti Darling’s critically acclaimed new album, and modeled for Adidas. Given how rare all-ages shows are in Portland, TBA’s closing party is a golden opportunity for under 21 fans to see and dance along with one of Portland’s rising rap stars. It's pretty great for those over 21 too.
We'll be blogging about TBA 2018 every day of the fest! Keep up with us at: portlandmercury.com/tba