There were Hollywood-style searchlights outside the Templeton Building on the opening night of Disjecta's Haunted, as if announcing that "Something Big" was going on inside. And it was. The most engaging, well-thought-out show mounted thus far in Disjecta's current incarnation, Haunted is a three-story extravaganza of installations, performance pieces, digital video, painting, photography and sculpture. If the fledgling nonprofit can pull off this caliber of show on a regular basis, it will have proven itself a contemporary art venue fully competitive with Portland Art Center and PICA.
The show was curated entirely by a three-member art collective known as Blood Rainbow Family, consisting of Brenden Clenaghen, Margaret Currin, and Patrick Rock, who met first met by happenstance at Cannon Beach in 1992. The beach's iconic Haystack Rock has been turned into a huge inflatable sculpture on the Templeton Building's main floor, surrounded by oversized gold piñatas and a black pod filled with red glitter. At a certain point on opening night, Clenaghen, Currin and Rock commenced a performance piece during which they basically ran amok, systematically destroying their installation and setting off noxious smoke bombs. The performance, we are told, had to do with the trajectory from idealism to decadence in utopic communities. Mmm-hmm. On the building's second floor, "Pizzeria Chinois" offered another performance piece, which consisted of Jackie Sumell and Liz Cohen dressed as ninjas, lip-syncing Indigo Girls songs with the aid of puppets. This endeavor lacked skill, humor or any apparent intent, which is to say it massively sucked. Better things awaited down the eerily lit stairwell to the building's basement, however, where Ian Treasure's wall of 182 exit signs complemented a demonic red neon gate by Bay Area artist David O. Johnson. Cuban video artist Felipe Dulzaides offered a loop of a toilet-paper roll unspooling and fluttering in the wind, a visual conceit that held American Beauty-like pathos. Outside the Templeton, Lucas Murgida offered a thought-provoking interactive performance about the nature of keys. These were only a smattering of multitudinous works across diverse media, most of which stimulated the senses as well as the intellect. Disjecta has had its share of growing pains, but with this bravura show, the organization appears to have moved beyond them.
5 SE 3rd Ave., 913-6884. Closes Oct. 29.