This week I was reminded of why I need to get my ass in gear and make some more goddamn money. Oh sure, it would be good for all sorts of reasons (retirement…what’s that? Safety net…uh, no thanks, I guess). But the main reason is for stuff like PICA’s TBA Festival (that’s Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival for those not from here). Every year when it rolls around I look at the offerings then look at the price tag and decide I can’t go. But this year TBA coincided with some rampant yet purposeful self-delusion about my finances. I know “You gotta spend money to make money!” actually means something different than my interpretation, but fuck it. Also, I found a friend with Industry Passes to the event and latched on.
In the end, I only got to three events, but they were all worth it. Tanya Tagaq, an Inuit throat singer, was mesmerizing as she performed in conjunction with/interpreted the 1922 “documentary” Nanook of the North. She was playful and powerful, sexy and scary. I’d never seen anything like it. Which is, probably, one of the best reactions you can have at a festival like this. Here’s a clip of what she was doing, though this doesn’t really do justice to her performance:
A few days later, I went on my own to Tahni Holt’s dance performance Duet Love. As the audience entered the space, the four dancers were lying in pairs on the floor, moving in a casual, exploratory way around and through and with each other. In some ways, it was one of the most interesting parts of the evening. Since these weren’t choreographed movements, it felt particularly intimate watching as one dancer’s hand stroked the back of another’s head, or as their feet hooked against each other as they stretched in opposite directions. The dance itself seemed to focus less on the duet than these opening moments and I wished there had been more physical interaction between the performers since those were the moments that really grabbed me. Still, it was an engaging performance that worked with some interesting questions about gender, gesture and identity.
Finally, Mammalian Diving Reflex presented All the Sex I’ve Ever Had, a panel of two women and three men, all over 65, describing significant and intimate moments of their lives (here’s a video the group did when they produced this show in Singapore). In carefully coordinated chronology, they offered candid glimpses of first sexual awakenings, hasty marriages, lusty hook-ups, and the complications of long-term relationships. These revelations were punctuated with music, dancing and audience polls and interviews. The whole evening was some the best kind of theater. It was revelatory, humane and unifying as well as being funny and touching and downright weird. And while the show was not entirely about sex, I especially applaud the courage of the panel to bring their private moments to the stage and talk about sex in a way that is almost never done, especially when it concerns seniors.
It’s just the sort of performance that would be worth saving up for next year. And if not saving (because really, who am I kidding?) then splurging on.