best of the fest
TBA: Week 1 Wrap Up + Fest Finale Preview
8 days in, with some of the best yet to come, we offer our picks for the final weekend, and recap what we've seen.
Eight days down, three more to go. I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. But in that satisfied, slightly bloated sort of way, like after a Thanksgiving feast (this TBA head cold notwithstanding—I fully blame fellow sickie Patrick Leonard, TBA's communications director, for sabotaging the press). Like every year, it's been a veritable smorgasbord of works—some compelling, some deliciously imaginative, some little more than meh. And, of course, the conversations at the Work Beer and Food Garden (which, we must emphasize is free this year), has, as always, been delightful.
But before we recap, our picks for the rest of the fest:
Gob Squad, Kitchen (You've Never Had it So Good)
Thursday–Saturday at 8:30, Lincoln Hall
Serving as the bookend to Big Art Group, the UK/Berlin-based art collective Gob Squad also promises to use theater, real time multimedia, audience participation, and "real life" to explode a classic, although in this case Andy Warhol’s Kitchen, instead of the Greek Oresteia.
Faustin Linyekula, Le Cargo
Thursday–Saturday at Winningstad Theatre
A leading choreographer from the Democratic Republic of Congo whose “work in Africa constitutes a crucial link to the rest of the world,” according to director Peter Sellars, Linyekula performs the US premiere of his first solo work, Le Cargo. In it, he translates memories of the brutal history of his war-torn homeland into hypnotic, fluid movements, mapping decades of pain and terror onto his own body.
Laurie Anderson, Dirtday!
Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Who better to close the fest than artistic polyglot Laurie Anderson—a fitting finale not only because she’s one of the mothers of contemporary performance art, but because her show, Dirtday!, is the third in a trilogy of solo works that she’s performed over the past decade in Portland. While Happiness, in 2002, tackled the search for contentment, and The End of the Moon, in 2006, explored space and her inaugural artistic residency at NASA, Dirtday! turns to the fear still present a decade after 9/11, and the Occupy movement’s response.
And on to the recap:
For those of you who've been hitting a lot of shows or following along online, we're starting to see some definite themes emerge: works that grapple with bigger socioeconomic issues and the relationship between the personal and the political (Big Art Group's The People—Portland, both of Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol plays, Keith Hennessy/Circo Zero's Turbulence), deconstructed works exploring the process of creation as part of their performance (The People—Portland, Turbulence, Miguel Gutierrez's HEAVENS WHAT HAVE I DONE), interdisciplanery performance works that are using technology in innovative new ways to frame, sometimes literally, their stories (The People—Portland, Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, Sam Green's and Yo La Tengo's The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller), and a focus on connection and dialogue with global artists (Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, Nora Chipaumire's Miriam, and the Balkan artists in Perforations). In that regard, this year is shaping up to be a pretty strong iteration. However, I'm still waiting for that performance that blows me away—this years Kiki and Herb or Meow Meow.
But of the pieces I've seen (I've missed a couple of Works shows), my favorites thus far are:
Ant Hampton + Tim Etchells, The Quiet Volume
Rarely have I had a piece of art creep so deeply into my mind. First it exposes your process or perception and thought, making the unconscious conscious, and then it manipulate it to the point of obliteration. Some people have found it unnerving; I found it enervating. Read my mini review halfway down the page of the TBA Preview, and then get on down to the library for your 20 minutes of personal hypnotic domination—it runs through Sept 16.
Keith Hennessy/Circo Zero, Turbulence (a dance about the economy)
Starting out with a rather ridiculous challenge—to create a dance about the economy—Hennessy and an ensemble of local and SF artists created a glorious fever dream instead that tackles all the instability and chaos of our economy through a poetic, right brain approach. It's a glorious mess, but one hovering on the edge of magic. (That said, it's totally improvisational, and I hear last night's show was much darker). Plus, when else are you going to see a naked Champagen slip 'n slide? You can still catch it tonight or tomorrow.
Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, Asalto al Agua Transparente
While this Mexico City-based theater collective's first show, El Rumor del Incendio, suffered from a total overload of information, their second show, Asalto, revealed their blend of historical and personal narrative, skilled acting, playful lo-fi multimedia, and explosive movement to be one of the most ambitious projects of the fest. Think live This American Life.
For sheer entertainment that still had a fierce poltical bite, nothing's beat the trashy, Southern gender terrorist, Christeene. Particularly after meeting her totally sweet and insightful alter ego, Paul Soileau. Interview + Recap.
And if you want the day-by-day play:
Time-Based Art Festival Preview
TBA celebrates its 10th birthday with a global lineup, some returning stars, a new curator, and a fancy new late night setup at Washington High School. Here are our picks for Week 1.
TBA Day 1: Interview with the Gender Terrorist Christeene
Austin performer Paul Soileau talks about his booty-bouncing, trash-rapping, grill-wearing, gender queer alter ego who will shake up the Works tonight at 10:30pm.
TBA Day 2: Big Art Group's The People—Portland Review
Big Art Group transforms Washington High School, inside and out, into a modern retelling of a Greek tragedy that's epic both in scope and imagination. Playing tonight and tomorrow at Washington High School.
TBA Day 3: Christeene Recap + Nora Chipaumire Talk
Christeene sings "African Mayonnaise," and Zimbabwean-born dancer Chipaumire talks about being an African artist, dealing with the black body, and her performance, Miriam, which will have its final showing tonight.
TBA Day 4: Miguel Gutierrez + Nora Chipaumire—Contrasting Reviews
The two artists give performances from opposite sides of the artistic spectrum: from light to darkness and self-revelation to self-obfuscation.
TBA Day 5: Ten Tiny Dances Slideshow
The perennial favorite delighted with goats, cyborgs, all new performers, gunshots, group slow dances, and a new record for the maximum number of people on stage.
TBA Day 6: Perforations Review
A series of site specific performances by Serbian and Croatian artists contain moments of beauty that are overshadowed by moments of boredom. Final performance on Tuesday at 8:30.
TBA Day 7: Review of Keith Hennessy's Turbulence
A glorious mess that's shot through with enough rigor, humor, and heart to entertain and incite. World premiere continues Tues thru Friday at 8:30.
TBA Day 7: Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol Double Review
The Mexican theater collective tackles ambitious political topics with their two shows. Final performance tonight at 6:30.