TBA 20 goes virtual route - with some live events
The annual Time-Based Art Festival, put on by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, scrambled to reinvent itself upon watching the live performance and arts world shut down in the past several months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But organizers have worked hard to continue the tradition of presenting cutting-edge performance and art, as TBA 20 goes the virtual route with live and taped segments at www.pica.org/tba and www.picatv.org, with some live events in parks and a video installation at PICA, 15 N.E. Hancock St.
It's all a go for the 18th annual festival, Sept. 10-30, featuring mostly local and U.S. talent because of a tighter budget and travel restrictions.
Artistic directors Erin Boberg (performance), Roya Amirsoleymani (public engagement) and Kristan Kennedy (visual art) have put together a full lineup — available to see at www.pica.org. Shows debut most days through Sept. 30, and all the shows can be seen throughout the festival (and beyond).
"You can participate pretty spontaneously," Boberg said. "We know people have a lot going on in their lives. Take time and enjoy the festival when you can. In a normal festival you want to get people together, but it can't be about that right now.
"Artists are making the most of it. They're looking at it as a creative challenge. There are some interesting positives to it," such as putting everything online (www.pica.org) allows for fans from around the world to follow the festival. It's free to watch; donations will be accepted for a festival pass.
"Several months ago, it was difficult — creatively, mentally, emotionally — for many artists with live performance practices to imagine shifting their projects to digital platforms or the constrained conditions of COVID. Even the motivation to do so was hard to muster," Amirsoleymani said. "Now, more artists are eager to make work again, and to share it with audiences in new formats, and art organizations like PICA are ready to support them in ways that still do justice to the work of these brilliant artists."
Many of the projects are interactive, Boberg said, including Yanira Castro's "Last Audience," a manual for simple actions that audience members can perform at home; Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr's Bring Your Own Blanket Community Picnic; and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko's "American Chameleon: The Living Installments," which allows people to participate on the gaming platform Discord.
There'll also be an app for audio-based content, i.e. podcasts.
• It all begins with "Opening Day," 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, an introduction and tutorial.
• Jibade-Khalil Huffman, an artist/writer/curator, has guest-curated "In Lieu of an Ocean (Send Flowers)," a program of new video works by seven artists that will be streamed at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, as the first event of the festival, as well as part of the Mobile Projection Unit at 8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28, and as a video installation at PICA from noon-6 p.m. every Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 10-27.
• Portland-based artists Demian DineYazhi' and Kevin Holden present "SHATTER///," a collaborative performance that amplifies Indigenous Queer art, politics and presence and a critique of settler colonialism through experimental sound/noise and poetry. It streams at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, and Sunday, Sept. 13.
• Stevenson's Bring Your Own Blanket Community Picnic will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13, at a location to be announced on PICA's Instagram page. It's inspired by the shared meals and gatherings of his grandmothers.
• "American Chameleon: The Living Installments" will be streamed starting at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21. It merges video art, sound, meditation, discussion, poetry/text and a reading/view list called "Syllabus for Peace."
• The Mobile Projection Unit presents video work at different locations around Portland, starting the first week of the festival. Because of safety guidelines, and with the intent of not drawing big crowds, locations will be announced the day before the event.
• Charles Mudede's "Thin Skin" is a feature film that stars Ahamefule J Oluo, who performed at last year's TBA in the show "Susan." It's a film based on his life story, and it's full of comedy and music. It's set for Sept. 12.
• Radio III is a record listening party with music by Elisa Harkins from Muscogee Creek Nation with collaborators in Vancouver (British Columbia), Montreal and Stockholm. It's set for Sept. 19.
• The performance "A Movement for Black Laughs" streams at PICATV.org at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, directed by Sharita Towne of A Black Art Ecology of Portland in collaboration with Courtenay Collins and in partnership with NW Black Comedy Festival. It's a celebration of Black comedy and music.
• Multimedia artist Dao Strom of Portland will present "Instrument/Traveler's Ode," an online streamed performance combining ambient music/experimental sound, visual imagery and text, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, on picatv.org.
• The back lot and annex warehouse of PICA will be open from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, for small, physically distanced audiences to experience an immersive installation by Strom.
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