Endurance is Key
How to separate journalism from Journalist: do not, we are the writing, it's not set apart, it is our perspective. I am another pass holder at the festival of Time Based Arts 2011, one among many hundred, it seems. PICA is not withholding the festival from media or volunteers and artists. PICA wants to see people there and people of all kinds. However, it is not a festival for people of all kinds, dare we admit this to each other. It is programmed multi-culturally, and does feature indie local talent, but the culture of spectator at events like these is that of the upper classes, the sub-percentage of global wealth – save for the pass holders like me, who is poor-as-dirt-on-the-farm under the tent I live in. I’m just a community radio show host. And the wealthy get a kick out of hanging near people like me.
The first performance I saw was John Neikrasz, about 10 hours in to his 12-hour drum solo. I was definitely hearing the struggle in keeping time and pace. As someone who knows Neikrasz on a personal and artistic level pretty well, I can say that it was impressive, especially as he managed distinct grooves and forms that I had never heard him play. By calculating the number of hi hat strikes, around 15,000, I can estimate that he performed a minimum 60,000 strikes altogether across four limbs and several kit pieces. But if I include every roll, he easily struck 120,000 and maybe double that.
This year, I am aware of the endurance it takes. Last year, I was house-sitting in a 4-level condo at the foot of the St. Johns Bridge. This year, I’m literally on the farm, in a tent sharing a water spigot with llamas and sheep. Last year I lept out the gate in a hurry catching almost all the weekend shows, sustained it, and caught 23 performances altogether. Patrick Leonard, communications director at PICA, when I told him this, he said, “Wow! You’re like us!“ Usually people get dinner afterward and a drink and talk about their impressions. This year, I cannot quite meet that pace, due to the drive, due to my monkish lifestyle.
Besides all that, I want to have energy for Mike Daisey. If only, I can pitch a tent on the lawn of Washington High School to catch naps out there during his 24 hour monologue. How he’s going to do this, how we’re going to see this? I don’t know. His performances last year inspired me to perform a monologue about TBA within 24 hours from its completion, but I was distracted by the pace of life. Now, one year later, that energy is there and I’m inspired.
After checking out a few exhibitions on opening night and Neikrasz, I vamoosed. Then Friday night, the big night of theater openings, I only caught one show: “Namasya” performed by Shantala Shivalingappa. I would describe this as storytelling with grace and beauty through movement. Her dance punctuates the musical score precisely in rhythm and emotionally with the other tonal qualities of a gorgeous score. There is no mention of the composer in our program guide… Her strength is a very clear union between traditional Indian dance and modern western European dance -- without much influence from the American avant-garde – giving her an exotic quality and a certain western familiarity that American audiences need. Only one thing about it struck me as odd. She danced solo, and in between dances there was what really looked like a highlight reel of her show, projected on to screens that lowered from above the stage. Not bad, just kind of peculiar.
DUROGE AND PURVER
That was day 2 Friday, now Saturday was not much busier. I wanted to see the work of Tim DuRoge and Ed Purver, largely because I’m acquainted with DuRoge, but haven’t seen any of his work other than jazz drums, which he is amazing with. The piece takes place on the Hawthorne Bridge with projections across on the Morrison Bridge, of sound analyzing waves, colors, and video of some bridge workers. There are microphones and sound effects making an underwater wispy sponge bob in hell environment while these rather quaint true stories and feelings recounted by the bridge workers, broadcast above a gathering of people standing and passing by the Hawthorne Bridge. Among the stories, one fella caught a woman from an attempted suicide. They also talk about massaging massive cables with 5 gallon buckets of grease. And at some point, I started to notice the sounds of cars passing by (with phasing effects) about 2 ½ seconds before they passed by me. I couldn’t see the microphones and the effect was very cool.
TEN TINY DANCES
And after that, it was off to Ten Tiny Dances at Washington High School. This was the 25th show, and yet it was the least eventful in terms of presentation. I wouldn’t knock curator, Mike Barber for this, after all, what’s another show? Lets see what happens with the 100th show. My first ten-tiny was at TBA ’07, Wonder Ballroom, with massive sets built on to the tiny stage, and entire musicals performed around it! As great as that was, it was testing on my patience considering all the set changes. But this year’s was one standard show, and just the right length. I always love it; it’s always a great time, and definitely a TBA favorite. I would say the Portland Taiko set was fantastic especially for the power behind the music. Mike Barber’s collaboration with Cydney Wilkes, combined humor brilliantly with physical stunts. There were eight other great dances, but those are my favorites this year.
That is my synopsis so far. I look forward to seeing “Radio Show” tonight, Teeth tomorrow, Experimental ½ hour, and finally NEW MUSICS, at The Works. Please look forward to hearing another report on that. My final instalment will largely cover the Mike Daisey performance. If I can get an interview with him, cool, if not, you’ll hear about it here.