Chaos, improvisation, role-play, and cataclysm: These are the themes that dominate TBA's visual arts lineup this year—appropriate enough for a summer of lip-syncing nine-year-old nationalists, the return of Russian menace, and ominous threats of impending economic crisis. With an incredible roster of exhibitions that include multiple Whitney Biennial veterans, genre-jamming performance/gallery/video mash-ups, and commissions from local rising stars, TBA:08's gallery exhibitions threaten to be the strongest batch of shows that Kristan Kennedy and the rest of her PICA cohorts have assembled so far.
The curiosity factor is sky high for I-Be Area, the first feature-length video from Philly artist Ryan Trecartin. Praised in the New York Times for its "nonstop visual razzle-dazzle," Trecartin's movie applies the Paper Rad clusterfuck/pastiche aesthetic to live-action filmmaking. When I-Be Area was shown at the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Jerry Saltz praised its visionary neurotic camp for "already affecting artists everywhere... (and) breathing life into the art world." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park, Sat Sept 6, 6:30 pm, Sun Sept 7, 7:30 pm, Wed Sept 10, 6:30 pm, Sat Sept 13, 6:30 pm, $7 ($6 members), film also shows at the Leftbank.
What's more, Trecartin's frequent collaborator and kindred spirit, Lizzie Fitch, steps into her own spotlight at Leftbank with Big Skin, a sculptural environment that Fitch and her Experimental People Band will regularly invade, turning the static installation into a theatrical stage.
Post-human absurdity is further explored in Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn's video Masters of None, which finds anonymous everymen, masked in pink hoods, going about their daily mundanities, voices mangled into digital gibberish. New York artist Jacob Hartman similarly collapses the organic and technologic with _______ Head, a sculptural video installation that fuses the scrappiness of DIY materials such as plaster and wood with live-feed cameras, video projectors, and computers. The above shows at Leftbank, 240 N Broadway, Thurs Sept 4-Sat Oct 4, noon-6 pm, (open daily Thurs Sept 4-Sept 14; open Wed-Sat through Sat Oct 4), free.
Reed College's Cooley Gallery gets in on the TBA action with suddenly, the fifth in Fritz Haeg's ongoing series of Animal Estates interventions. Part of a broader wave of architects who are challenging their job descriptions with progressive, socially engaged actions, Haeg builds homes for indigenous animals in urban areas, hoping to lure them back. He has installed a 10-foot eagle nest in Manhattan, salamander boards in San Francisco, and now, a nest box for the White-Breasted Nuthatch in Portland (in addition to dwellings for our native swifts, bats, snail-eating ground beetles, and other critters that Haeg refers to as his "clients"). As part of TBA, Cooley Director Stephanie Snyder will be giving tours of Haeg's citywide interventions. Check pica.org/tba for times and locations.
Portlander Corey Lunn comes into his own with an ambitious new sculpture commissioned especially for TBA—not too shabby for a debut solo exhibition! (If his tragicomic, goopy bust of a kazoo player recently exhibited at Quality Pictures is any indication, Lunn's marriage of chaos and absurdity will shine in the larger scale.) And fresh off the acclaimed Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, Seattle's maestro of the rococo Jeffry Mitchell debuts a new installation of ceramics and works on paper, entitled California. Both shows at Leftbank, 240 N Broadway, Thurs Sept 4-Sat Oct 4, noon-6 pm, (open daily Thurs Sept 4-Sept 14; open Wed-Sat through Sat Oct 4), free.
The Northwest Film Center will play host to two of the festival's most anticipated and celebrated works of art: Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, and Mike Kelley's Day Is Done (Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions #2-32). Gordon, who famously slowed Psycho down to a 24-hour runtime, collaborates here with Parreno, pop band Mogwai, and Scorsese and Almodóvar's cameramen to create a 90-minute meditation on the now-infamous soccer player. Shot with 17 cameras over the course of a single match, the directors never take their eyes off the hero, at the expense of the on-field action. We focus on Zidane's focus, then, following the central character of the movie, but not the plot itself. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park, Sat Sept 6, 9 pm, Thurs Sept 11, 7 pm, Fri Sept 12, 6:30 & 8:30 pm, Sun Sept 14, 7:30 pm, $7, ($6 members).
In Kelley's Day Is Done, the influential Los Angeles artist/director stages a suite of performances based on school plays, pep rallies, and other dress-up events from high school yearbooks. Bringing his signature dark humor to reenactments of donkey basketball games and nativity scenes, Kelley's spin on the toxic spectacle of the unself-conscious neurosis of American pageantry remains one of the most-discussed art videos of recent years. As with most of the visual art and film components of TBA:08, Day Is Done is like an aesthetic system and cultural critique gone haywire: When a culture of overabundance collides with the pathos of panicky despair, the spillage (like its art) is nearly impossible to contain. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park, Sat Sept 6, 2:30 pm, Sun Sept 7, 4 pm, Sat Sept 13, 2:30 pm, Sun Sept 14, 3:30 pm, $7 ($6 members).