Arts Review Festival

T:BA 2013 Epilogue

I want to hearken back to Allison Hallet’s T:BA guide in The Portland Mercury where she says, “I like what it does to my brain.” And then I want to take that a step further. If you attend almost thirty different performances, talks, and exhibits as do I every year, you are schooling and evolving your brain, heart, gut, and body until you’re rubbing your third eye.

It is now more consistent than I have ever seen. I do not believe that this year offered a single performance that I could all my all time favorite, or even one that I could call this year’s favorite, but when I add all factors to the balance, this was the best T:BA I have ever attended.

What tipped the scales? The consistency did it. The flow of performance, how they were scheduled, the online and printed resources; it was very put together. The aesthetic and exploration of values really threaded surprising themes that were not as predictable as past years. And it felt more socially engaged. One thing that keeps things running so well is a natural sense of participation.

There is some responsibility involved for everyone. The audience must empathize and listen. But the reviewer is supposed to critically analyze, or are they? I consider a comparison between the film review and sports article. The writer must convey the ending in one and not the other; spoiler alerts must be given in film review. It goes for the arts too, lets say a dance. Because a dance is like sports, after all, it is in the Olympics. But a film isn’t. You cannot give away the ending, but the only suspense of sports after the fact is what might happen in the next game, so speculation is necessary.

But reviewers like to speculate on the meaning of the dance and essentially spoiler alert the whole thing; giving away the meaning of a performance is the same as giving away the ending to a film. At least the sports reviewer always says, “but we won’t know until game day.” So as I review, I am trying to keep it simple, and convey in merely a few paragraphs what happened. If I have an interpretation, it does not speculate beyond some basic levels. After all, if you read it and say, “more of that pretentious contemporary art crap, lets go see the new Star Trek,” then I am actually ruining your experience. And I saw the new Star Trek.

 At the closing of my review of Time-Based Art Festival 2013, I can only speculate on what might happen in 2014’s roster, or its home stadium, The Works, or who might return for another season. But one thing is certain: this thing is powerful. It is one of the best things this city has—it’s a great economic boon. If you think you can’t afford it, volunteer. If you think you can’t be an artist: make some work and propose it. If you think it’s some elitist pretentious art parade, shut up until you make it, then decide.

But now that I’ve been on the beat for seven years, I’m part of the family. I have watched staff come and go. I could be the recalcitrant cousin, but its still family. And that, believe it or not, is the first value about PICA and T:BA.

Sean Ongley

By Sean Ongley

Co-Founder of THRU Media. A background in non-profit, music, and radio preceded my ambitions here. Now, I aspire to produce new media and publish independent journalism at this site and beyond.

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