Arts Review Festival

T:BA:14 Scatters the Room and Kicks Up the Dust

Days 9-11 at T:BA:14

The walls are closing in and there is no escape. No escape but through yourself. But when you find the hatch and down you go, there is no turning back, and its hatches all the way down. It is a dream realized upon a dream, projected against the brick wall of the dream-makers.


Friday morning felt like Saturday but I recalibrated by composing the review for mid-week events, resuming the circuit of mind-bending work with Halory Goerger & Antione Defoort, Germinal.

It is a creation story and an examination of communication. In the beginning, there is only the mind without speech. Upon the discovery of voice, a dialectic is constructed. Emotions become profound and culture develops. The rapid germination of one thing to another is delivered humorously with a fun interaction between four characters, while conveying principles of philosophy and mechanics.

Germinal Dialectic
Germinal Dialectic

Evolving many existential one or two act plays of the modern theater, like Becket and Sartre, this one act play is set in an enclosed universe, one that bears no relationship to reality as we know it. Germinal is a journey of four individuals on their process of discovery from proto-consciousness to self-realization and beyond, using minimal effects and stage construction. In fact, it is a stage deconstruction.

Oneohtrix Point Never performed at the WORKS. I enjoyed a leisurely ride over to it. These final two major days at T:BA, I am joined by Kate Dolan. She helps with editing and directing the narrative. It is a blessing to share these days. Paula was tasked to that one and here is her review. Briefly, I saw transforming colorful images flicker on the big screen with a backdrop of harmonic electronic sounds, I could have enjoyed it.

DAY 10

On this day, the schedule completely scatters out, rather than coalescing in to a single, final major event. T:BA:14 offered a more humble finale than previous years. I would say that the fat has been trimmed across the board. Programs have been consolidated, re-branded, and simplified. For the most part, the attendee doesn’t need to choose between more than one or two things. The headlining slots are filled with one-off shows by artists without headline allure. It was an interesting choice to program this way, but is it efficacious?

It is a die hard thing of both the audience and Jack Ferver to participate in a performance at Noon on Saturday, Day 10. Mon, Mas, Mes is a pretty interesting monologue involving dance, interactivity, and collaboration. But I would still call it a monologue.

Seated to surround Ferver in a long rectangular room in the Ecotrust building, he enters from a side room and sits down. His satirical self-absorbed persona plays with the audience with a beginning Q&A Audience members picked by Ferver read their question from a card, questions that are determined ahead of time and handed out by a T:BA volunteer. I believe he wrote those questions and sought out people to read them out of intuition, because when he called on “that couple there, the woman,” he was talking about Kate and myself, the question on the card was, “Do you want children?”

Jack Ferver
Jack Ferver

He talks freely about his personal life but those of us who do not follow him do not know what aspects are true or theatrical—and there is definitely some exaggeration. From this comedic place, he performs a dance. The audience responds with humor, laughter. Then things turn. He talks about rape and suicide on a personal level. He talks less in the latter part of the performance, dancing more, expressing very deep despair and the audience is no longer laughing. He ends the 45-minute exploration with the same dance that he began with, indeed, this time the audience was not laughing. But he enjoyed great applause.

There were four talks as part of the PICA Institute program to discuss themes and the meta-material that artists play with, such as social change. We favored Ferver and caught up for the final symposium at three o’clock. The tone and discussion clearly was building on something we had missed from the previous three. But we caught up with it and things became lively after a false start.

Many perspectives collide with art and economics. It was born from the notion of art efficacy and the process of fund-raising. A discussion about what we perpetuate through the financial model given to artists (efficacy) came to some alarming revelations from Keith Hennessy. That the source of that money inevitably trickles down from extraordinarily rich white men, by and large, who seem to regard art as an industrial investment toward their own ends. They provide funding through this measurement mechanism of race, class, and gender. This institutionalized profiling feeds a suspicious beast.

Diversity was discussed. The most direct point of view that resolved my broken concept of humanity was this: diversity is not based upon ethnic lines. An audience member, Randy—whom was planted by PICA so I discovered by meeting him later at the WORKS—observed that the notion of diversity is entirely driven by character, such as skillset, talent, interests, stories, but actually that cultural/ethnic heritage is so broad that it truly populates only one category: human.

When I looked in to the partiers at the WORKS that night, I saw true color and true diversity. Although most of the flesh my eyes laid upon was fair, I could see a dramatic range of personality. Some are only there to dance while others are digesting the social structure of the arts over beers and liquored up slushies. I felt human, truly, in the brotherhood of all mankind, in the dream that we are each manifesting one breath at a time.

Kate and I ask Randy to dance. Chanticleer Tru and his archetype persona, Evelyn is pumping out clever crowd pleasers for a packed house. Randy, who will be going back to San Francisco on Monday, enjoys the dance floor for a while and goes back to the open air.

We boogie as a pair for at least an hour. Shuffling our feet with eyes shut,  impressions of color and the radiance of being with someone you love overwhelming the long and tired bones of minds challenged by the looking glass, and bodies that are worn from ten days of biking the inner city on the hunt for artistic and philosophical treasure.


The city streets are fuzzing out late at night, riding home from the dance party. It reminds me of HYPNOSIS DISPLAY by Paul Clipson and Liz Harris. Also known as Grouper, Liz produced a soundtrack blind. Paul made a film deaf. They understood each other’s intentions and proceeded with a great deal of freedom but looked forward to the surprising alignments, not the intended ones. The music is performed live, but it is largely predetermined and is comprised by a lot of field recordings in the world.

Both headed out in to the city landscape for their source material. Paul used a 16mm camera to scour San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. The film ranges from ultra close up shots with intimate detail to fast moving light streaks and photograph-like stills. Most of the time, things are cut so fast and so many images overlayed that you do in fact fall in to hypnosis. At some point you have to close your eyes, maybe take a two-minute nap, and then you can focus on it again.

Liz, I believe, used Portland and other areas to capture cityscape sounds. She likes cassettes and I believe she used cassette in the field, making this a completely analog film and music performance. Her sounds were sleepy and oceanic, with that pure white noise vibe. I found that it really did sound how it looked. The picture was very noisy, ranging from pure color to black and white surfaces. The sound acheives a wall of noise and pure harmony throughout the show.

DAY 11

Today I bow out. Although the schedule trickles away with a Bloody Mary brunch in the calm noon-Sunday-hours at Fashion Tech and a performance by Chelfitsch is scheduled at Imago, and visual exhibits remain open, I am calling it done for the year. I would probably enjoy all of those things, but it’s time to let it slip through my fingers and focus on how to move forward.

A digest of the visual arts program with final epilogue is forthcoming.

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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