By Robert Tyree
TBA:12 has hit the road, but Portland’s still here. Wanna watch the dust settle?
After 10 days waking up for the Time-Based Arts festival—dive-bombing stoplights on my bike to get less late for 10 a.m. workshops (or noon chats)—these past mornings have been sluggish. More heartbroken than hung-over, but admittedly a bit of both. Friend Nicole said it’s delirium. I said go feed your chickens.
Festivals concentrate contexts for expansion, nudging us into minor unions, new loves. Inside upended time, we boldly tamp down the stakes of faith, and when the stakes get pulled—when it’s Monday again (and again)—those holes become the nodes by which we leverage value and belief.
Speeches also concentrate contexts; when Obama recently spoke of “unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle,” it was hard not to fall in love. Yet harder still to know the latter rather more intimately than the former—blankly hearing of an American Dream where if you work hard, you will be afforded a decent standard of living and dignity in your community.
Performing artists specialize in the production of immaterial links.
When Hana Erdman—surrounded on a tiny stage by hundreds—links our empathy for a bewildered goat to a spectrum of consideration-to-sexualization for her own body…
When Keith Hennnessy and Circo Zero’s Turbulence (a dance about the economy) links an exhausting human pyramid, torture at Abu Ghraib and gold sequins…
When Laurie Anderson’s Dirtday! links raising pigs on platforms—sidestepping prohibitions against pigs on Israeli soil—to indefinitely detaining those labeled “terrorists” by the U.S. government (powers granted in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act)..
When Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol’s El Rumor del Incendio links our willingness in attending an intricate, insistent plot to a history widely unrecognized not only outside but also within Mexico…
When Biljana Kosmogina’s P Campaign links the emotional manipulation of political theater to our desire for a democracy of neatly identifiable, consistent platforms—as well as a considerable absence of substantive message…
…the immaterial production of this labor—the links in consideration such performance generates—warrants investment not only as a means of diversification (hedging our civic portfolio against collapse and growing innovation in decentralized diplomacy) but as a means of adding value, mobility and body to the life of beliefs. When we stop getting together around time-based art, when the festival ends, I get inside fever, bad—but in good company. In the week since TBA:12 closed, Portland friends have declared themselves “broken” and “rather undone.”
More immediately than the specious, “fundamental American promise that, even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself,” the promise I need today is that this past week’s severance will be proven false—that this phantom currency beyond our balance will be made the real wealth of tomorrow’s exchanges. And these immaterial links produced around performance will through us find their longevity and structural integrity: bridges of practice between where we are and where we strive to be.
Robert Tyree is a dance artist, writer and educator based in Portland, Oregon. Since 2006, he has pursued a concept of intensive dance, dance in late-night contexts—or deterritorialization in discos with Lacan and Deleuze (Žižek and Massumi). Tyree is co-executor of FRONT, a Portland-based newspaper for contemporary dance. He is currently developing a collaboration of intercrafted poetry and choreography with Romanian writer Andra Rotaru. Much love and many invitations to comment. www.roberttyree.net