Friday, September 30, 2011
The culmination of the TBA festival was what was billed as 24 hour performance by notorious Mike Daisey. There was a lot of build up for the event- even a drink named for it available at the well-attended bar outside. I admit, it was my kind of drink. Pick your booze (whiskey, gin or vodka) and then they squirted random amounts of 3 gourmet, home-made sours into it and stirred it around. A very tasty version of Gin and Juice, basically... Anyway, there are no pictures of the drink, because after a week of drinking to stay entertained I was completely out of cash dollars.
I attended "All the Hours in the Day" & was grateful for the Voodoo Donuts (yep, some had Tang on them, there were quite a few cock & ball donuts, and bacon maple bars, but no Nyquil to be had) & also for the frequent breaks. Because it wasn't just a performance piece. It was also an improv piece. I don't know how many people are capable of improv-ing on no sleep, but I don't think Mike Daisey should be counted as one of them. His voice was pure monotony and his tangents driveling. He was a lot like Garrison Keiler without charm or purpose, lost in Lake Wobegon. I respect him for trying to mix it up (We are outside while a fire alarm goes off in the picture). Every once in awhile he would trudge into clearly more rehearsed material, and then my ears would prick with interest. But most of the time he was clearly forgetting where he was in the unsuccessful narrative.
But the performances during the breaks? Awesome. Especially Holcombe Waller. But for 10 minutes over every hour there were real experiments going on, the first I'd seen all week. Some dance troups got up and choreographed onsite. There were short videos that were actually really interesting in my sleep deprived state.
Just goes to show, when you least expect it great work can sneak up on you.
One of the few works that really grounded me during TBA was the video "Europleasure International, Touch and Go," by Christina Lucas. It was fairly high quality slow-motion video shot of people throwing rocks at a large empty building, as well as the glass falling from the windows on the inside. Old and young people throw the rocks, some pull up in cabs to throw them. Clearly, people had to bring their own rocks. No one throws very well, and I also noticed for the first time that there is a difference between how Europeans throw rocks and Americans throw rocks. You could tell none of these old men had ever hurled a baseball, that they were all cricketers. At the end, the camera pans back from the building to display the words "Touch and Go" spelled out by the broken windows. I loved going into the nearly quiet space (just mellow orchestral music for the sound) and watching the glass fall over and over and over again. Such a needed break from the throngs of intoxicated, over-dressed and slightly trendy people milling about outside.
I was out on a date with a guy a friend of mine thought I would like, and it was not going well. One of the indicators was that the gentleman in question brought up this video, and tried to speak informatively about it. I was listening, and kinda nodding along (he was so impressed that the camera had captured so much detail, that people let themselves to be filmed vandalizing a building, blah blah blah...) when I realized he hadn't seen the words. "Oh," he said "I must not have seen that part." How did you miss it? I wondered. It's the longest shot in the film. "Well, it was a long film." About 15 minutes, maybe? "How many times did you watch it?" Oh, I had to admit... probably 12 times. "You spent 3 hours watching windows break?"
hmm, is that odd? It was on for over a week. It was quiet and beautiful and free. And, most importantly, no one was watching it with me most of the time. I could just relax, surrounded by slow, muted and marvelous.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Too Long, I know!
So, the papers are really taking it out of me. I think I'm done with the one for this month, but, SHEESH! I'm not sure! I have a great editing team, including my mom, who drove about 500 miles out of her way to help me out. (And go to the Nicki McClure show- http://www.nikkimcclure.com/ Y'all should check her out, cut paper wonderment) Anyway, I've done almost all my writing here at the Ford Building coffee shop in scenic (if not always sunny) Portland, Or. Right now there's a kick-ass blue grass band playing, and I'm trying, very hard, to think about art work.
Recently I attended nearly all of the events at the local happening "TBA"(http://www.pica.org/tba/) One of which was a dragqueen cabaret guy named "Taylor Mac" (http://www.taylormac.net/TaylorMac.net/Artist_Statement.html)(I'm sure I can get a few more links and parentheses in here if I try...) Anyway, Mr. Taylor Mac was a little bit over the top for me. It was one of those performances where I left feeling played, which is not how I like to feel. Bits of the performance have stuck with me (luckily, unlike the next night, where he ripped off duct tape underwear). Most notably, he made a great argument, for something I'm going to put in it's own paragraph.
In Taylor Mac's almost words (because, did I write it down? No!) "Comparison is the gentlest form of violence." Which had never, I swear, occurred to me. The way we critique in art skuul- "Have you looked up so and so? Your work is similar to such and such-" the pigeon-holing, the niche-ing... No wonder it never feels good. As Mr. Mac explains it- Whenever you hear "oh, you're work is like Tiny Tim, cuz you play Ukelele" a huge knife goes through the universe, cutting you away from a lot of what you love. Even if you are getting compared to some one really great, like David Bowie, hey, you aren't getting compared to Ravel, so, you know SLICE! there goes half of what you love. Even genres are a little like ritual tattooing- maybe you don't want to be stuck with those marks forever, and yet, there you are!
I've been tarred with the "Drag" brush. Taylor Mac called how we were all dressed at his performance "Audience Drag," which was pretty funny. Of course, none of us were wearing sequins on our faces. But we were all kinda dressed alike, safety in resembling each other. Our costumes of well prepared Oregonians- long pants and tee-shirts, rain coats and flip-flops. Anyway, all my research into drag, and exhibitionism, has been really depressing me.
I was told by my advisor to read "Infinite Variety" about Marchese Luisa Casati, a very rich Italian lady from about 100 years ago. And though the book is entertaining, it's like a shallow, well-researched gossip column. Then the Marchese did that with black and white marble, wild animals and nudity. The best part so far has been the introduction by Quentin Crisp. He described exhibitionism as being like a drug, which I agree with. Needing to be ever more outlandish to get your fix. Which is not, at all, where I am, or where I've been for years. Maybe, maybe, as a teen. Since then it's been more about self-satisfaction.
I have no desire to make people look at me. I want to be satisfied by how I feel in what I'm wearing. How I look, how I am perceived, is not interesting. & I have no idea how to express that in a costume, since, of course, how I feel has a lot to do with how I appear to myself (not in a mirror, but in looking down at myself). I learned a long time ago that the people that were attracted to my physical appearance, especially in a desirous sense (as Casati's seem to be) are generally assholes. But those who want to be inside the costumes, on the other hand...
And with that... the beer is flowing, the band is fantastic, and I think I'll be right here, right now.