the t:ba festival has come and gone. and as in the past i didn’t go to anywhere near as many events as i wanted, in fact i only made it to three. one of these years i’m gonna have to invest in an all access pass.
i started with opening night at the works. this year the works was held at washington high school, which has been empty since the eighties.
two floors of classrooms were used as galleries, each focusing on one artist’s installations. for the most part, the installations seemed a little slipshod to me. even after i read the descriptions, i still felt like they were just not refined enough. a couple of the rooms had some good imagery (stephen slappe and johanna ketola), but didn’t have any direction or cohesiveness. the only one i really liked was ethan rose’s sound piece made up a modified music boxes. it was the only one that felt like it fully realised.
gang gang dance capped off the night fantastically. their brand of tribal noise dance jams was well suited for the high school auditorium. if only the shirtless hippy behind me didn’t reek of hippie sweat. also i must be getting old because i just don’t find moshing and crowd surfing appropriate at anytime. it’s not fun getting kicked in the head.
i went to see a hitoshi toyoda silent slide show titled spoonful river. the presentation took place on the lawn of washington high school. it was a collection of images taking place over a year, which hitoshi spent half in new york and the other half traveling japan. there was plenty of beautiful imagery; insects, plants, city scapes, small villages, etc. i couldn’t help looking for a narrative or a connective thread, but i couldn’t find one. what i didn’t understand was the inclusion of pictures of family and friends. i understand that they were part of the year, but it took the presentation into a vacation slide show direction. either it needs time to be refined, or i need some one to explain it to me.
on a grey sunday afternoon i went to sound artist ethan rose’s live installation with local folkie laura gibson and video artist ryan jeffery. they performed in the windows of the pdx contemporary gallery, with the manipulated sounds broadcast on the sidewalk where the crowd watched, listened and stopped traffic. I stayed for three of the four hours, during that time it rained a bit and we experienced a beautiful sunset. ethan rose sat behind a mixing board and a couple of laptops most of the time. laura gibson switched between sitting in front of ethan and standing in the window. every time she moved a different string instrument was used. ethan manipulated the sound creating a soundtrack for urban nature.
i wasn’t too impressed with the video work. mainly composed of nature collage, it worked well with the sound, just not too original. it was also unfortunate that it was barely visible until it got dark.
i don’t know if i’ll still be in portland for next year’s t:ba festival. i’m sure it would be worth traveling back here for.