"A festival of interdisciplinary art" is an accurate but insufferably unromantic way of describing the Time-Based Art Festival, better known as TBA. The festival is nothing less than a colossus of the strange and the glorious, a place where you might see a film that never ends, a dance through a fountain, or a Q-and-A session that plunges into hysteria.
TBA, which is organized by the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, hasn't been hindered by COVID-19 as much as you might expect. "Early in the pandemic, I would say everything was questioned and considered, but we always kept our priorities on supporting the artists we work with in whatever way we could," says Erin Boberg Doughton, an artistic director at PICA.
That support has led to TBA's final week, which will feature both virtual and in-person events that exist under the umbrella of the festival's current theme, Take Your Time. With that in mind, here are five TBA events worth taking the time to enjoy, all of which can be seen at picatv.org.
The spectators will become the spectacle at this Zoom-based event, which asks viewers to post a picture or to simply show their face so that TBA can capture an image of its 2020 audience. "The Audience Portrait is a little bit of an experiment," says Kristan Kennedy, another PICA artistic director. "[We] asked ourselves, 'How do we capture that feeling of being together during TBA, or that moment we share the space in a live performance or gallery just [by] being present, looking and relooking?' It is a time to listen and just be." 6:30 pm Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Debajo del Agua: The Wake Work of Enerolisa Núñez
When many people think of Dominican music, they think of merengue. Yet one of the Dominican Republic's defining musical forms is Afro-Dominican religious music performed in the salve style, which is also called palo or atabeles. Debajo del Agua is a talk by artist-musician-writer manuel arturo abreu that explores the music of Enerolisa Nuñez, also known as the "Queen of Salve." It's part of a series of TBA events from Home School, a free pop-up art school run by arturo abreu and Victoria Anne Reis. 4 pm Friday, Sept. 25.
For Dao Strom, who was born in Vietnam and grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, music, poetry and visual art aren't just forms of expression—they are her three voices as an artist. Instrument/Traveler's Ode sees them combined, merging guitar, photography, piano, song-poems and recorded noises—including the sounds of birds and rivers. Her performance will stream Sept. 26 and will be played on cassette decks in PICA's annex the next day. 6:30 pm Saturday and 1 pm Sunday, Sept. 26-27.
A Movement for Black Laughs
Black lives and laughs will matter at this celebration of Black humor in political movements featuring Dahlia Delu Belle, The Real Hyjinx, Anthony Robinson and Debbie Wooten. It's a program pitched at the intersection of comfort and enlightenment, one of the festival's defining dualities. "Many of the artists in TBA have created projects that can be comforting and/or enlightening. It depends on the audience," Boberg Doughton says. "I would also say many of the projects question who gets to experience comfort or enlightenment, or who defines what those terms mean." 6:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 24.
Puro Teatro: A Spell for Utopia
Uruguayan choreographer luciana achugar is a singular artist, a visionary who can find beauty in bodies on pavement or the stillness of a cat. Puro Teatro: A Spell for Utopia continues her quest to create what PICA describes as decolonized, uncivilized, utopian art. Achugar recently posed the question, "What is a theater without a theater?" COVID-19 may have made that question difficult to answer, but if her previous work is any indication, A Spell for Utopia will offer an intriguing and inimitable response. 4 pm Saturday and 5 pm Wednesday, Sept. 26 and 30.
SEE IT: Tickets and scheduling information for the Time-Based Arts Festival can be found at pica.org.