On this yearlong eve of the Mayan apocalypse, as we bury our faces in digital displays, what is the relevance of the old-fashioned objet d'art? Can it engage the mind and uplift the spirit? Kristan Kennedy poses these questions in the exhibition End Things, a title apropos to the end-of-days that may arrive Dec. 21. Kennedy, PICA's visual-arts curator, has put together a group show centered on these questions in three venues during the Time-Based Art Festival's run.

Regardless of whether the world ends this winter, we're still living in an exponentially more technological age, and we're still ultimately going to die, so Kennedy wants us to consider why we cling so direly to paintings, drawings, sculptures and, for that matter, knickknacks and ceramic-pig collections. Although she has no definite answers (the show, she writes, "is more of a question than a rallying call"), she has chosen seven artists to address the conundrum from a global perspective. Alex Cecchetti, based in France and Italy; the Dutch art duo of Lonnie van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan; and French artist Isabelle Cornaro lend a continental accent to Kennedy's investigation, while U.S.-based artists Morgan Ritter, Erika Vogt and Claudia Meza represent the home team.

The visual-arts offerings at TBA walk a tricky line. In a festival that is largely performative, art that stands still can seem incongruous.

Yet, because PICA puts so many eggs in the TBA basket, there's pressure to make a big splash, since it gets short shrift the rest of the year. How will End Things negotiate the challenge? Check this space next week for a review of End Things, and in the meantime, check out the show yourself.

SEE IT: Alex Cecchetti, Morgan Ritter, Erika Vogt, and Lonnie van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan at Washington High School, Southeast Stark Street and 13th Avenue. Opening reception 10 pm Thursday, Sept. 6, with visiting hours noon-6:30 pm Sept. 7-16, then noon-6:30 pm Thursday-Friday and noon-4 pm Saturday, Sept. 20-29. Claudia Meza at White Box exhibition space, University of Oregon's Portland campus, 24 NW 1st Ave., noon-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday through Sept. 22. Isabelle Cornaro and Morgan Ritter at PICA headquarters, 415 SW 10th Ave., Suite 300. noon-6 pm Sept. 7-16, then noon-6:30 pm Thursday-Friday and noon-4 pm Saturday, Sept. 20-29. See pica.org/TBA.