TBA 2020 offers space to breathe, to process, and to bask in essential moments of serenity. Whether you’re looking for new things to consider on repeat viewings or you don’t know where to start, Portland Monthly is here to break down the first week of Portland’s 18th annual avant-garde art festival.
Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s curated film series In Lieu of an Ocean (Send Flowers)—which dropped on September 10—set the tone for this year’s festival, with new and recent work from filmmakers Yétundé Olagbaju, Ariella Tai, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, American Artist, Sable Elyse Smith, Pamela Council, and Alima Lee. Experimental film fans can scour original footage for meaning, like a scene in Olagbaju’s The Sun, the Moon, & the Fig Tree where a bonfire burns inside a Black girl’s head as a prismatic halo surrounds her. Or consider American Artist sautéeing an iPhone in Coke over a propane grill (with a King of the Hill shoutout), and connect these scenes to repurposed images including video game cutscenes, archival news shows, commercials, and popular films.
Even in this economy, some of us crave an emotional rollercoaster. Stream Mobile Projection Unit’s Springs and the 9/11 performance of Demian DinéYazhi’ and Kevin Holden’s SHATTER/// back to back to ride that ride. Subsequent live events for each have been postponed due to unprecedented wildfires choking the West Coast with smoke, but the artists’ recorded rituals complement each other perfectly.
As a site-specific work developed for different rivers, including the Tijuana and the Willamette, Springs reads like a requiem for our stolen seasons. SHATTER///, meanwhile, is a safe space to access grief and rage, with its artists placing those feelings in a centuries-long context: combining DinéYazhi’'s poetry, read in their own weary voice, with Holden’s all-distortion guitar, SHATTER/// works in the mode of lesbian poet and metal singer Otep Shamaya, switching from her often personal and partisan political rage to focused fury about Indigenous genocide. Performed before plinths with white-made Native American memorabilia, it climaxes in true punk form.
UK experimental theater collective Forced Entertainment’s Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare at Home series opened with Macbeth on September 17. Founding member Richard Lowdon breaks down the Scottish play with domestic objects like cleaning products, packaging, and art tools cast as Banquo, Duncan, and the Weird Sisters. It amounts to a textually faithful Macbeth fit for any socially distant learning pod’s curriculum, but it simply doesn’t get weird enough to work.
Stay tuned for more dispatches from TBA 2020 in the coming weeks, and check out Portland Monthly’s story on how PICA pulled off this year’s distanced, digital festival.
Through Sept 30, FREE (pay-what-you-will donations encouraged), picatv.org