The art of time

    Performance as art has taken on grandiose proportions in the art world over the last 30 years, and the fourth annual Time-Based Art Festival is a direct manifestation of this larger shift. For audiences this means art is more interactive, informal and cross-cultural than the art confined to museums, stages and galleries in the past. The festival atmosphere also encourages a plethora of interactions between artists, performers, audience members and the staff that make it happen. By incorporating the element of time into the art realm, artists are increasingly communicating a stark yet vital reality unadulterated by the conventions of other time-based arts such as theater and film.

    Now in its fourth year, TBA:06 is spearheaded by artistic director Mark Russell, who is fresh on the Portland art scene after replacing PICA founder Kristy Edmunds, who moved to Australia in 2005. With 20 years of experience at New York’s P.S. 122, Russell will definitely bring new artistic rigor to the programming at TBA this year and is sure to push the boundaries beyond what Portlanders are familiar with. Appointing someone based in New York to direct the festival as a guest director will likely warrant more national attention for the festival and represents a growing trend in the Portland arts scene of expanding its spheres of creative discourse beyond the regionalist tendencies of its past.

    Filling the main stage performance is Laurie Anderson, one of the first artists to devote themselves to the uncertainties of performance art in public. In the 1970s, when there was no “performance art” genre, Anderson would play her violin on top of an ice cube on the streets of Manhattan until the cube was entirely melted and then she would walk away. Her performances have expanded into multi-million dollar productions that are well represented in conventional galleries, as well as arts institutions across the globe. For this year’s TBA Anderson will be presenting The End of the Moon, a performance inspired by her residency at the NASA space center, where she is purportedly the first and last artist in residence. For those who are more financially conscious and less impressed by bright lights, at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium there will also be four screenings of Anderson’s naturalistic film Hidden Inside Mountains, a work that is replete with dreamlike texts presented in both Japanese and English.

    If the ticket prices for the main events seem daunting, there are more free events this year than ever, and this year’s programming is guaranteed to change your perspective on the meaning of what is “art” and what is not. Throughout the festival, artist Edie Tsong presents the postmodern Telecommunity Portrait in the Wieden+Kennedy building, where viewers can interact with the artist in her studio by drawing reciprocal portraits of each other and then exchanging their results. By using a video-conferencing system, Tsong will draw a portrait of visitors from her studio while they do the same of her.

    This year there will be a greater representation of visual art than last year’s festival. Although the venue at Corberry Press is a bit off the beaten track in Northwest, it is well worth a visit. And though visual arts are often sidelined in PICA’s busy programming, this year’s exhibit, On Sight, curated by Kristin Kennedy, promises to be a fresh show that addresses how artists “make history.”

    Portland State faculty Harrell Fletcher will be exhibiting his photographs from the Vietnam War titled The American War, a body of work that debuted at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas, and was recently displayed at White Columns in New York. Marina Abramovic’s multi-channel video installation, Balkan Erotic Epic, will be one of the most interesting pieces in this exhibit, with its slick depiction of erotic Serbian folk tales.

    At the late-night 21-and-over venue “The Works” there will be loads of eclectic ambiance and uncanny performances by musicians, performers and multi-media artists. This year The Works has been moved to the east side of town, underneath the Hawthorne Bridge at AudioCinema, 226 S.E. Madison St., a great move for the expanding industrial Southeast arts scene. There is a diverse set of nearly 30 performers lined up, including local acts such as Fleshtone, Small Sails, and Holcombe Waller, as well as national acts such as Universes, Dancepod, Wau Wau Sisters, and James Tigger! Ferguson. This is one of the venues where emerging talents are given the chance to push the limits and see who calls for more attention in upcoming years, so be sure to stop by the late-night party.