After a long period of transience, this year's Time-Based Art Festival is taking place at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art's new 20-year-lease-headquarters on Northeast Hancock Street. But that doesn't mean the scope of the festival is any less vast. Writers Jack Rushall and Jess Drake ventured into the whir of local, national and international contemporary artists to figure out what's up.
Juliana Huxtable, TBA Opening Night
THE SCENE: In its best moments, opening night of the TBA festival at PICA at Hancock felt like an illegal rave in a British factory. Other times, it felt like a nagging high school dance. But imagine a high-school dance where your teachers are performing, selling cocktails, and also attempting to grind behind you. Juliana Huxtable headlined the event, offering some experimental beat-making that was about as jarring as the addition of the drummer who assisted her on stage. However, Huxtable was as much an artist as she was a performer; her music featured a fine sampling of diverse DJs juxtaposed with her own unique material.
THE TAKEAWAY: If there's one thing PICA's good at, it's throwing a party. JACK RUSHALL.
Narcissister, Narcissistic Advance
THE SCENE: In Narcissister's first video performance, she fast-forwards from cradle to grave with layered costume changes: baby-doll frock, pre-teen with menstrual-stained dress, graduation gown, wedding veil, pregnant in an apron, topless breastfeeding, modest middle age, and then she pulls a wrinkled old-lady mask from her vagina and lays down dead in a casket. In the grand finale, a flaming firecracker shoots sparks from between her legs, which manipulate two puppets on a romantic, raunchy date.
THE TAKEAWAY: The twisted sex appeal of clown-burlesque and the flamboyant subversion of drag, combined with an untamable freak factor and provocative political bent. I applauded every twat trick, but was disturbed and challenged by this masked woman, who also strips layers of colorful burqas down to an explosive suicide bomb. But in a panel the next day, the artist eloquently defended the race politics in her art, which are connected to her own identities and communities. JESS DRAKE.
Pepper Pepper, Critical Mascara: A Post-Realness Drag Extravaganza
THE SCENE: The PDX LGBTQ community is still mourning the loss of Gaycation at Holocene and the heyday of Blow Pony at its former venue in the Southeast industrial district, but Critical Mascara is the traveling, annual answer to our prayers. Pepper Pepper was an endearing host, though the array of drag performers preceding her may have stolen her show (e.g. "The Hostess," whoever that babe was). And in true Portland fashion, nobody was dancing, which is socially acceptable at a drag show where those with severe social anxiety can gape with ease.
THE TAKEAWAY: All in all, attending Critical Mascara feels like attending a New York fashion show. For those looking for a post-realness ball, things still felt pretty real. JACK RUSHALL.
Christian Rizzo/ICI-CCN Montpellier, d'aprés une histoire vraie
THE SCENE: Eight men approach the dance floor. Their bodies begin softly undulating to the steady drum beats. Making eyes, they pair off, then separate, then join again in new pairs, sets and groups. Two full drum sets fill Lincoln Hall with driving tempos – whispering cymbals, booming bass, psychedelic rock riffs and hypnotizing folkloric rhythms.
THE TAKEAWAY: French choreographer Christian Rizzo's company infuses composed contemporary dance with the infectious energy of folkloric ritual, and explores masculine group movement in its many forms. JESS DRAKE.
What to check out the rest of the week:
Ali Chahrour, Leila's Death
In Lebanon, very few Shiite mourners remain to ceremonially lament the lost. After a year like 2016, take this rare opportunity to let a wise woman's body carry and channel the sadness of grief through song, poetry and dance. JESS DRAKE. Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, pica.org. 6:30 pm Thursday-Friday, Sept. 15-16. $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers.
Allie Hankins, better to be alone than to wish you were.
Ripe fruit, cut flowers, big balloon farts and prototype fuck machines. Local dance vixen Allie Hankins and her lady-powered production team present this choreographed lecture about the futility of lust, but don't resist this temptation. JESS DRAKE. BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave., pica.org. 8:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 15-17. $16 for members, $20 for nonmembers.
Sacha Yanow, Dad Band
Yanow stars, dressed as her own father, and lip-syncs some of his favorite songs. Daddy issues? Nah, patriarchy. JACK RUSHALL. Reed College Black Box Theatre, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., pica.org. 7 pm Thursday Sept. 15. Free with reservation.