TBA: 15 Wrap Up

[Originally published for Noise & Color PDX, September 28, 2015]

And so we come to the close. After a whirlwind ten days of nonstop performances, events and happenings, TBA:15 is done. With several sold out shows and a constant buzz at The Works each night, this TBA continued the tradition of pulling Portland’s art scene together for a shared experience of new ideas, important conversations and a renewed sense of community.

The Noise & Color crew was lucky to finish off our tenure with two exquisite acts at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall. Philippe Quesne’s crowd-pleasing La Mélancolie des Dragons transformed the stage into a cinematic set that saw a group of metalheads trying, rather beseechingly at times, to explain their traveling amusement park to a new acquaintance. At once acknowledging the set (lifting up the fake snow to plug in a projector) and playing within its false reality, the troupe constructed scene after scene for the bemused woman (and audience) from the trunk of their VW Rabbit and accompanying trailer. Long wigs askew and peering through a curtain of smoke and bubbles, the performance/play ended with towering forms made of tarpaulins and air slowly deflating as the lights faded.

The second night’s performance was by Ukrainian quartet DakhaBrakha. Employing everything from hand drums to harmonicas to cellos to some downright virtuosic bird calls, the group powered through a diverse set and came back to thunderous applause for a three song encore. Stemming from the roots of Ukrainian folk music, their music uses traditional structures only as a starting point, expanding outward into a sound that pulls from every genre imaginable (the near-gangster rap lead by Nina Garenetska as she strong-armed her cello was a particular standout).

Prior to the festival, we had the undoubted pleasure to interview Lucy Yim on her piece, Devastation Melody (an N&C pick in our initial article). Trav B. talked to her about what she hoped to extract from her work and from the audience, as well as her interest in improvisation and somatic movement. The performance touched on personal elements as Yim recounted a narrative to the audience that laid bare her upbringing in a primarily white neighborhood, but interspersed elements of ritual (setting four eggs to boil in four separate rice cookers while she talked) with more traditional performative movement.

For our final segment, Trav B. sat down with PICA’s Visual Art Curator, Kristan Kennedy, to talk about the exhibition at 2500 NE Sandy. Entitled Pictures of the Moon with Teeth, the show brings together several artists under the auspicious lunar sign to think about belief and disbelief, and what it means to go on. Open until October 11th, this is exhibit deals at times with the use of text and a breaking down of meaning, and at others with ideas of space and worth (and how these are sometimes inextricably linked). If you haven’t gone already, it is prime time to catch some of these national and international artists in an expansive space that really lends them the gravity and meditative air they deserve.

For our part, the Noise & Color crew thanks everyone who put up with our questions, gave it right back, and let us film them making critical art faces. (Ours are below.) #tbheyyyy

Photos & Video by Jess N. Pierson