Exhibitions USA

Portland gets set for time-based art

Oregon’s eclectic performance festival celebrates its tenth year

Miguel Gutierrez weaves together a comic monologue and dance for Portland's Time-Based Art Festival (Photo: Ian Douglas)

A rock ‘n’ roll tribute to the utopian designer Buckminster Fuller is one of the eclectic projects included in the Time-Based Art Festival, organised by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art in Oregon (6-16 September). “There’s a lot of risk and potential failure and that’s what’s pushed us forward in the festival,” says its visual art curator, Kristan Kennedy.

This year’s festival, which includes performance art, theatre, dance, film and music and is held in venues throughout the city, features both international and local artists. Newcomers to the festival include the San Francisco filmmaker Sam Green, who is presenting his recent documentary The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, complete with a live score from the experimental rock band Yo La Tengo. To celebrate the tenth edition, the artistic director Angela Mattox also wanted to include artists who participated in previous years, such as Laurie Anderson, who will be performing her personal and political work Dirtday! and the choreographer Miguel Gutierrez, who is weaving together a comic monologue and dance.

Describing how the festival differs from other art events, Kennedy says that the “artists are often in the room and the audience is invited to be in concert with them”. She has concentrated on the idea that physical works need not exist in a digital age for the exhibition “End Things”. As part of the show, the Italian artist Alex Cecchetti will tell a story through words, objects and drawings, which will then be retold throughout the festival by other artists, each passing the story onto the next. “It’s like a game of telephone [or Chinese whispers],” Kennedy says. “When Alex returns, the story isn’t his anymore.”

Many of the participants in “End Things” are presenting their works in an abandoned high school that the festival has used since 2009. “It had no electricity when we moved in because meth heads had ripped out all of the copper from the building,” Kennedy says. “It’s not like walking into the Church of Art that you’d find in a museum.”

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