Festival Interdisciplinary

T:BA:15 as it Happened to Jen

Holcombe Waller: Requiem Mass: LGBT/Working Title 


Go to Holcombe Waller: Requiem Mass: LGBT/Working Title alone or with someone you could sit with for hours in silence without giving a second thought to. Arrive early. Bring as little with you as possible mentally and try to exhaust whatever is left before you land. If you must, stroll over to NW 23rd, absorb the peace of the walk and round back. There you are.

I had never been to Trinity Episcopal Church. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a church as grand. Which is disheartening now I guess as I fully realize it’s purpose. I remember a friend of mine who recently arrived back to the states after a six-week trip to Europe telling me about how under-appreciated churches can be as sacred portals, despite the surplus of attendance. I’ve spent part of my life evading religion and escaping most of their architectures as a result of general disinterest. Imagine the most saturated blues, reds, yellows, and greens. Believe in the transparency of glass; appreciate it’s desire to transfer light. Understand the power in gold.

Before everyone could settle in a wake of voices washed upon us, calling out to one another, some latin verses to raise the dead. It had us directing and redirecting our attention across the pews. Physikos, malakos, arsenokoitai; natural, gentle: sexuality. The latter term has been widely discussed as vocabulary directed at homosexuals, but I believe in this context, prefixes need not apply. We are all sexual beings, some of us understanding and respecting this. Some of us interested in the rehearsing, the different roles. Some of us open to discovery, some of us not. All of it natural and our own. All of it sacred.

It was our duty to participate in the resurrection of those who lost their lives because of their sexual orientation. We were asked to acknowledge the afflicted by name, with hymns and in plain-speak. We were surrounded by a vocal-chord vibration on a frequency without host. There were times when I felt the unison voices like foreign hands on my shoulders, but I dared not look back. I dared not attempt to assign its form. We were there to feel it’s weight.

I need not be humbled in the name of sexuality, gender or the infinity of love, but I was. Maybe it’s more about of a leveling of bred-in, antiquated thoughts about our relationships, especially sexual ones. No matter how we scrub, we can’t remove the stain society has left on us. It beds in our dermis and only time, exposure and boundless humility can shed that.

After Holcombe I was eager to hoof it to PSU to see Alessandra Sciarroni: Folk-S. This is mostly because I transform into a fidgeting child after about five minutes in a church pew. At some point I don’t care how magical it is — I still have a body. It was nice to stretch my legs in between.

Alessandro Sciarroni: Folk-S: Will you still love me tomorrow?

alessandro alessandro

We were prefaced with a secret that I’ll never tell.

Five men and one woman stand facing each other, forming a six-sided star-like structure at center stage. Their shadows create a cross-hatch I’m drawn to memorizing. They being the Schuhplattler (translation: “shoe batter”), a traditional Bavarian and Tyrolean dance of slapping one’s legs and shoes with the hands. They are blindfolded and they are moving in near-perfect unison.

They dart about the stage at different paces. Regardless of the long, swift movements they make with their arms and legs in between the body claps — they stay moving identically. I consider their practice; I cringe. After only a few minutes I see six red streaks trailing six pulsing palms. I can imagine the heat evaporate from my own; pins and needles.

Then I think of their feet and how it must feel natural at some point to be bouncing with regularity, as natural as standing. I brother it to a runner’s high. Same concept; repetitive movements, the adjustment of the physical body, the calculated breathing turned natural again. I wonder if eventually to them it’s as if they aren’t even moving legs, with the exception of the one long high kick now and then. Are they to themselves just gliding?

The white noise that is the disappearing, regularly fills and empties like a wave. A couple of times the noise just about eclipses the percussion of the dancers until it finally does. It remains there for a while on high, while four lights at each corner alternate creating the slowest strobe. Strobe lights always catapult me into another world, a more visceral and patient one.

This is a sensory influx brought on by human endurance. Feel the literal energy; that hot heat from bodies in both torturous and meditative, repetitive movement. Watch the exchanges between dancers in the final performance after all of the practice; understand the poly-companionship in the group — envy it even. Drown in the white noise, resurface. Be a body. Pinch yourself, are you still there?

Tyondai Braxton: HIVE1

It took me approximately ten hours of time travel from the moment I woke up after Saturday night’s Critical Mascara until the time Tyondai Braxton appeared amidst a giant, grey and flesh-toned smoke cloud at Lincoln Hall. It took me another fifteen minutes of tolerance before I could begin to truly interpret the language we were speaking. The immediate was abrasive, raw and held my patience tenaciously by the throat.

Braxton and his gear.
Braxton and his gear.

There he was, operating on a soundboard brain; adjusting the nerves, redefining the synapses of some other-born beast from another galaxy. Methodical at first, he was not gentle. As he doctored, strange and painful shrieks escaped from within the belly of the black walls around us. I gripped my arm-rest slightly. The grating sounds that layered the in between were so vivid I’m surprised we couldn’t see them in the background. There were points where they were almost too much for me until I was lassoed again and again by the percussion.

Abstract 3d white geometric background. White seamless texture with shadow. Simple clean white background texture. 3D Vector interior wall panel pattern.
My sketch of the muck-like creatures described.

Braxton illustrates an intimidating world. As the beat would build on itself, it would climb a wave of white noise or a growl. When I finally let myself, I began to understand climates as well as creatures far beyond our human discovery. I could taste new weathers, chase mutated versions of our animals. I saw metallic, bird-like entities swimming like a school of fish in the layered atmosphere. Murky, swamp cretins crusaded across the land communicating in an aggressive, terrifying speak that I had no desire to learn and all of the desire to observe.

Maybe the nerve endings he recalibrated were ours and not some external species. What if the message is the method: frustration, patience to end in interconnection? I’m not sure I need the answer, I’ll delight in the visuals.

Were you there Sunday? What did you see? Leave your visuals in the comment section.

Pictures of the Moon With Teeth: Visual Arts Exhibit

I keep thinking back to Pictures of the Moon With Teeth, which says something. Originally, I attended it on opening night last Thursday, and it could have been my first entry here but it wasn’t. I needed to steep the thoughts.

I arrived at exactly 7pm at 2500 NE Sandy, into a circus of people that I watched filter in and out of doorways like ants. I did my part and circled the innards of the warehouse multiple times, scavenging for something to take home. It’s a habit. Sometimes I’m looking for physical pieces that I can add to my collection (a stone, a bent nail, a triangle shaped piece chipped out of a CD) other times I’m looking for messages, words. My feelers are always out, scanning.

Karl Lasson’s Commonplace inspired work.
Karl Larsson’s Commonplace inspired work.

I would have taken home a copy of Karl Larsson’s Commonplace if I wasn’t specifically instructed by a woman upon entering to not take one of the many copies that were lazily strung-out on the bloated copy machine. If I’m honest, part of me even considered sneaking one off because I was told not to. Mostly though, it was because I didn’t feel like I had adequate time or mind then to digest what he had written, let alone the many other visuals works there.

Commonplace takes inspiration from a book of the same name compiled after the death of respected horror-fiction writer, H.P. Lovecraft. The book consists of over two-hundred of his random previously unaccounted for thoughts and drawings combined. Larsson starts his own book with echoes of terror climates, impending mental doom, conversations of the spirit, mundane dronings, half-designs, other things. His short entries pricked me like mosquito-bites with the turn of each page:

Melancholia, the black tongue, mistreated sorrow.

I have moved – into a wake of being – almost weightless – like a noun.

Assumption – private log – fixed and encoded diary – in a twilight genre between the night of confession and the twilight of criticism.

Larsson is something outside of writer; a multi-platform artist, what have you. And what’s frustrating is that I can’t even tell you from a point of understanding what that is. But, I spent most of my time among other works sitting on the cold cement of his room, surrounded by his many creations, reading passages from his book which I couldn’t possibly understand the entirety of.

The images of Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s "Vanishing Point/A Drive-In at the End of the World"
The images of Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s “Vanishing Point/A Drive-In at the End of the World”

What I did grasp is that he has somehow disciplined his mediums just enough so that they may live together inside of the same four walls harmoniously. I imagine these mediums personified like little children he parents —Writing can be such a jerk to Sculpting and Painting.

Striving for balance and equal integration as a writer, artist, photographer, (insert medium) is difficult for me. It’s a hopeful feeling to see someone successfully flex that muscle group, when you feel like you’re only giving yourself charlie-horses.

There were plenty of other works at the exhibit that kept me static for a while. Dawn Kasper made me pensive with all of the literal bells, whistles, claps, cracks and manipulation of fabrics. Peter Simensky’s video reeling of Surface Contents 1 & 2 had me vexed and inspired by gold and light turned geometric. The images of Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s Vanishing Point/A Drive-In at the End of the World left imprints of vital facial expressions that made me feel like I could reach out and touch any one of the characters and they would be more than the 2-D screen in front of me.

If I decided to go again it would be at a time when the place is barren and I’m allowed more room. It’s a lot to take in. The night of the opening was more of a social celebration of T:BA:15 rather than an exhibit to take too seriously. Fortunately, there’s more exploration to do yet this week. If you’re up for it, draw your own conclusions about the exhibit and report back here. Pictures of the Moon With Teeth will be available to see now through October 11th.

Peter Simensky: Surface Contents 1 & 2

I want to say more on this work but I’d like to say it most personally using a medium I might work best with. In order to do that, I believe it first deserves some background or explanation of what it is and how I came to be inspired by it.

Surface Contents 1 & 2 is one of the few works I looked forward to seeing purely on a surface level. I was summoned to the gold just as we all become pulled by a glittery distraction now and then. We are ejected from our lives for a brief moment to LOOK AT THAT THING and there is nothing or no one who can stop us.

Peter Simensky: Surface Contents 1 & 2
Peter Simensky: Surface Contents 1 & 2

In this work, light is concentrated in the most literal beam from ceiling to floor at the warehouse where Peter Simensky films. Fast forward, and the short documentation of this work is projected onto a large screen in the middle of the Pictures of the Moon With Teeth exhibit where I’m watching this. The light marks itself in a square, the brightest spot, on the cement floor. Up the lit, translucent column set at an angle, he injects gold particles that dissipate like ink in water. And that’s it.

As I waded through the rest of the exhibit, I watched visitors adorn themselves with gold cloaks, capes, bandeau’s, belts, headbands, skirts, dresses and diapers. All of it constructed out of multiple, identical sheets of gold material — a texture of which I find myself struggling for words to describe now. It looked rough, but wasn’t — but was. It was some kind of nylon-elastic blend that when rubbed together created it’s own friction that matched the original appearance.

The conversation is about the meaning of gold and its influence and ability to shift our attention. Gold has some foreign and unmistakable power to draw value to an object. It’s like a separate being that possesses its host, mutating it into something different each time. Each thing defining its own worth. I assimilate this with each of our individual energies and the ability we have to pass those off to one another. There is an intimate vibration or spiritual perfume, that when mixed with human emotions creates separate tinctures for others to ingest.

Here is a poem inspired by human perfumes and Simensky’s work:

Geist Parfüm

Leave remnants;
pleasure pockets
of residual energy in
public &
more often than not.

Fan that flame,
kick up gold dust and
suspend it
in elongated light prisms
for hours after.
Pray a prey picks it,
pricks their
plump finger on it.
That’s how it should start.
Never begin gentle.

Let it cut lungs
like little parasitic knives then;
breathe in.
and sigh with them.
Salt seeping softly
from fingers flows free;
nose the scent – know it.
Steal it
let it be.

ectoplasmic host – we all home one.


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Dynasty Handbag: Good Morning Evening Feelings

Because I underestimated Portland traffic entirely and poorly planned my commute I ended up arriving to this show half-way through. Bashfully, I stumbled into a packed house at Disjecta where a guy took my ticket and in exchange whispered standing room only. I was lucky enough; I found a seat on the floor where I cozied up next to a couple of other girls. There I sat, staring up at a woman with a admirable pocket full of divine alter-ego’s, our host Dynasty Handbag aka Jibz Cameron.

Jibz Cameron as Dynasty Handbag as Mallory Stropplecalfs.

She plays both guest and host on her talk-show Good Morning Evening Feelings. So when I tiptoed in, she was beginning to chronicle the career of a 10-year-old performer Mallory Stropplecalfs, who made it clear right off the bat that she lacked enthusiasm and energy for the typical way of creating anything – in this case dance specifically. She was bratty, obstinate and purposeful in her genuine disinterest in the way things should be done, which gauging by the ambience of unstiffled laughter was a grade of transparency I think we all appreciated. I assume this is a direct mirroring of Jibz as I remember her very plainly mentioning before the performance that she “doesn’t do art” anymore. I wondered at what that actually means to her, and how she would describe it in more detail after the show.

As she moves through this character with her varying levels of engagement, she illustrates the confinements objectivity can have on art in the voice of her dance instructor. He makes condescending remarks about what he points out as her selfish indulgence or laziness; that the performance is in fact not all about her. This is a paradox that crushes the reality of ego and alter-ego, and similarly builds it up again. The ego is her, yes she is in her own world as we all are – but that’s not all she is. Naturally art draws from the ego on occasion, therefore expression through art is partly about our experience – but it’s also about creating an experience with others regardless of perfection. That’s neither here nor there.

I readily admire her duly stripped down, ultra-layered honesty throughout the latter half of the performance that I was able to see. I was kicking myself by the end for my poor planning for this night; her only show of the festival. If there’s one thing (and realize, there are many things) that I’m gaining from my first experience at T:BA:15 it’s exposure to artists and performances that are blowing up my brain with inspiration. Jibz is someone I will follow. And considering her already stacked resume (that is actually posted on her site) I’m sure there is a lot more to see from her.


Radhouane El Meddeb/La Compagnie De Soi: Au temps où les Arabes dansaient…

It’s so quiet.

Four men appear to us, barefooted with gazes that will penetrate the audience from start to finish. All of them with eyes so brown they almost appear black from the back of the room. They step in place and with their shifting weight we become used to the sound suctioning them to the wood floor. Their hips roll into a deep wake as they rock back and forth like a boat at sea. At first it’s so soft, I imagine cradling a child with the motion. In an instant though, it becomes serpent-like and I snatch up my imagined child out of instinct.

Do you ever unfocus your vision in order to understand a different image?

I did this then and what I saw was that imagery of cobras magnified; their broad shoulders the marked hood, their torsos and legs a scaly body. The deep contrasted lighting became mischievous. Their eyes once dark, now appeared like eight gold orbs staring out at me; paralyzing.

Within the visual, allusions were laid that I’m not sure I can properly put my finger on so I won’t attempt to clutter up your short peek into it. I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to properly put this piece into words that sound accurate to me. I’ve already tried explaining it to people.

I know that what I felt was beyond four men conjuring hypnosis through their sensual — and dare I say feminine movements. How do I know that there was something on the other side of it? Because I felt serious privilege upon leaving; like I had just witnessed a dark secret of an entire species. Despite being able to grasp the fantasm and effort in the performances I’m able to see, I don’t always leave with this level of privilege or insatiable curiosity. How is it that such a brief performance can speak in centuries?

Jen Scholten

By Jen Scholten

Jen remains curious and inspired by all ventures unfamiliar and unconventional. A transplant from Grand Rapids, Michigan, she continues her creative discovery in an artistically inclined community of dreamers. She functions with a background in photography and an insatiable desire to express her swirling thoughts through wordplay.

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