Your Essential Ten-Day Guide to Portland's TBA Festival

Overwhelmed by the plethora of performances? Bamboozled by the endless art? We’ve got you covered with our day-by-day itinerary for the ultimate TBA experience.

By Fiona McCann, Ramona DeNies, Megan Haverman, and Brandon Staley September 10, 2015

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 Alessandro Sciarroni's FOLK-S Will you still love me tomorrow? Photo by Andrea Macchia

Stop the clock, Portland—it’s Time Based Art time again. This year’s lineup promises performative wonders from across the globe—grappling big questions about the end of mankind and the nature of memory—with guest appearances from couscous and lederhosen. But what to see, and when? Rest assured, we’ve pulled together the ultimate itinerary for the ten-day festival.

Thursday, September 10

It’s opening night! This year, PICA has converted a 20,000 square foot space on Sandy into an installation and exhibition space to host work from artists Tannaz Farsi, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Bill Jenkins, Dawn Kasper, Karl Larsson, Peter Simensky, and Akio Suzuki. Stop by 2500 NE Sandy from 7-9pm before making your way to The Works at The Redd (831 SE Salmon street) for Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. It’s free!

Friday, September 11

Holcombe Waller's Requiem Mass: LGBT/Working Title

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Holcombe Waller's Requiem Mass: LGBT/Working Title

Local performance artist and musician Holcombe Waller kicks off the festival with this site-specific choral work performed with an all-abilities community choir. The “requiem” recalls the dead who suffered persecution for their sexual orientation or gender expression in their lifetimes, with the piece drawing on gay history from the 1980s through present day.
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 6.30 pm September 11, 12

Saturday, September 12

Alessandro Sciarroni's FOLK-S Will you still love me tomorrow?

Schuhplatteln, Bavarian for “shoe batting,” is a folk dance traditionally performed by leaping, lederhosen–ed men, but Italy’s Sciarroni choreographs a performance of sequence and ritual to lead the medium to extremes. The slap dance takes on a serious tone with a rhythm that repeats its variations “to the point of exhaustion,” forcing the dance to shed its festival roots and adapt to a contemporary context.
— PSU: Lincoln Performance Hall, September 11 and 12.

MPA, Nothing to You 

Disjecta curator-in-residence Chiara Giovando hosts this one-night show—45 minutes devoted to “provocative and attentive collapse”—that’s tied to an ongoing site-specific installation. Sounds uncomfortable—we’re in!
—Disjecta, Sept 12-17. Performance September 12. 

Sunday, September 13

Lars Jan / Early Morning Opera, The Institute of Memory (TIMe)

This traveling stage performance, which often utilizes the same modern technology it seeks to provide commentary on, has appeared at the Guggenheim Museum, Toronto Nuit Blanche Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and beyond. Director Lars Jan will be performing “TIMe,” a piece that focuses on how the process of memory and archiving has changed over the years by using his memories of his father, a privacy-obsessed Cold War operative.
—Winningstad Theater, 6.30 pm, September 12, 13

Monday, September 14

Aki Onda & Akio Suzuki
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Analog tape machines, nails, radios: two globe-trotting, intergenerational Japanese artists mine the sonic properties of everyday objects and self-made instruments. “Cinema of the ear,” is what Onda calls it. (Suzuki’s parallel visual art exhibit, Nami, employs cassette players to evoke sound as waves.)
—Disjecta, 8pm, September 14

Tuesday, September 15

Michelle Ellsworth, Preparation for the Obsolesce of the Y Chromosome

Man smells? Man dances? The male gaze? Michelle Ellsworth ponders on what she might miss if men disappear, in a performance that brings Powerpoint together with some pretty inventive props. “Cheerfully wacky,” says the New York Times.
—Winningstad Theater, September 15, 16, 17

Wednesday, September 16

Radhouane El Meddeb / La compagnie de Soi, Je danse et je vous en donne à bouffer

Food and art, two Portland obsessions, come together in this performance piece from French-Tunisian choreographer Radhouane El Meddeb. Having watched the same meal being prepared at all the key family gatherings, he brings that ritual to the stage, dancing as he cooks. It’s choreographed couscous!
—The Works at the Redd, September 15, 16

Thursday, September 17

Dynasty Handbag, Good Morning Evening Feelings

New York darling and alter-ego of Jibz Cameron, Dynasty Handbag brings a live, conceptual, one-hour hybrid morning / late-night / children’s show for adults to TBA. Find out why Village Voice calls La Handbag “the most outrageous performance artist in town.”
—Disjecta, September 17

Friday, September 18

Dana Michel, Yellow Towel

The title of Canadian choreographer Dana Michel’s piece comes from her childhood habit of wearing a yellow towel to look like the blonde girls she saw. She explores black culture stereotypes in this piece the New York Times found to be “in equal measure disturbing and illuminating.”
—Bodyvox Dance Theater, 8.30 pm Spetember 18 and 19.

Saturday, September 19


This genre-bending Ukrainian folk band mixes accordions, cellos, drums, bird sounds, wailing vocals and—of course—bearskin hats to create a mesmerizingly eclectic sound, equally soothing and exciting, that retains its trancelike listenability through each pleasantly perplexing song. Come for the staggering collaborative skill and artful, elegant performative quality (the band has its roots in avant-garde theater), stay for the bayou-inspired rap song with the jaw harp.
PSU: Lincoln Performance Hall, September 19

Sunday September 20

Ingri Fiksdal, Ingvild Langgård and Signe Becker, NIGHT TRIPPER

Head into the woods via bus for a transcendent experience in nature that begins at dusk. From the collaborative mind of Norwegian artists Signe Becker, Ingri Fiksdal, and Ingvild Langgård, this pagan–esque concert/forest walk takes on an ethereal element by uniting the forces of a local choir, dancers, and the forest itself for a ritual that blends dreams and reality.
—Starting point: The Works at the Redd, September 19, 20

Festival-long bonus

Also running alongside the performance pieces are a number of visual art shows. Check out some of our personal picks: 

Tannaz Farsi, And Others 

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Peter Simensky, Surface Contents 1&2

Eugene-based artist Tannaz Farsi uses text by German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht to illuminate the relationship between visibility and power, through 5,000 programmed LEDs.
—2500 NE Sandy Blvd, September 10–October 11

Karl Larsson with Morgan Ritter, Pascal Prosek, and Container Corps, Commonplace

Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft certainly wrote some off-kilter fiction; in this slab-like installation, Swedish-American artist Larsson starts with a collection of Lovecraft’s unpublished story notes to tackle the idea of fear and formlessness—ideas that may never manifest.
—2500 NE Sandy Blvd, September 10–October 11

Peter Simensky, Surface Contents 1 & 2


Brooklyn-based Peter Simensky’s work is concerned with value, and Surface Contents 1&2 continues that exploration. Here he uses gold in a series of “actions, prints and architectural interventions” to highlight its power and show it as an index of value.
—2500 NE Sandy Blvd, September 10–October 11

 See the full TBA program here

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