September 8th, 2009 5:33 pm | by Jenny Booth News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

TBA Diary: Circles and Spinning Wheels

Score another win for this year's TBA Festival: Circles and Spinning Wheels & If I Could Crowd All My Souls Into That Mountain is a brilliant introduction to the world of modern art video-works. The collection of short films, brought together by Melody Owen over a few years of globe-trotting, are thought-provoking, entertaining, and delightful.

Having been skeptical that a mass of short pieces could find any cohesion and rhythm, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed both thematic halves of the show. Circles contained short and more abstract pieces, all built around the image of a circle, but in truly disparate ways. While Crowded Souls had longer works, fewer in number, within which the essence of the filmmaker was set up and demonstrated through their actions.

As Owen pointed out in her pre-screening introduction, each piece is quite short, so if you don't like one, just wait a minute and chances are you'll enjoy the next. I'm not saying every film was a masterpiece, but none were boring, and even the ones which mystified got me thinking about our need to infer logic and reason on to everything we see. The films were a veritable smorgasbord of the funny, sinister, hypnotic, and disturbing.

I will never forget Beijing artists Ma Qiusha's interpretation of what you should do with beauty products, which impressed and repulsed me at the same time. Likewise, Liz Haley of Portland brought a whole new dimension to presenting a weather forecast, and seeing umbrellas dance in one of the later circles films made me smile all day. I wouldn't be surprised if it got snapped up for use in a commercial in the not-too-distant future.

There were beautiful music videos, strobing graphic numbers, and one guy who couldn't act for toffee. My favorite of the bunch would have to be fellow Portlander Alicia McDaid, whose 6 minute 15 second Pain is Fear Leaving Your Body had a beginning, a middle and an end, and made us empathize with and like her, despite knowing that she must also be really quite irritating. I'm not going to give too much away but it stands out and reels you in.

During one of the particularly peculiar earlier videos, I was convinced that someone was blowing raspberries a few rows back to voice their discontent, but now I'm fairly sure it was actually a baby. So all ages are welcome if they've got taste. Fully recommended.

Melody Owen's Circles and Spinning Wheels & If I Could Crowd All My Souls Into That Mountain, NWFC Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park. 6.30 pm Thursday Sept. 10 and Saturday Sept. 12, 2.30 pm Sunday Sept. 13. $6-7.
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