Alchemy & Mysticism
as part of the Red76 exhibition
I've got an answer/I've got an anthem
I.A.E. 2003, Portland, Oregon
March 13 - 21 2003
Slide and Video programmes curated by Instant Coffee
Instant Coffee curated a program of slides and another of videos for The Red76 exhibition, "I've got an answer/I've got an anthem', I.A.E. 2003, International Arts Group Exposition in Portland, Oregon (www.red76.com). Slides and videos were included in one of two programmes (both titled "Alchemy and Mysticism") that were first shown at @ Laurelhurst Theater on the weekend of March 13 to the 15th, and then played ambiently in an exhibition space PROJECTROOMONE for the following week (www.projectroomone.org).
Both programmes included
"Alchemy and Mysticism": Slides -- Karen Azuolay and Joel Gibb/ Kika Thorne/ Cecilia Berkovic/ Jon Sasaki/ Jinhan Ko/ Kate Monro/ Will Munroe/ Igor Santizo/ Timothy Comeau
"Alchemy and Mysticism": Videos -- Meesoo Lee/ Scott Russell/ Galia Eibenschutz + Alexis Zabe / Txema / Tony Romano and Shayne Ehman/ Laura Cowell & the Hidden Cameras/ Lisa Kannako & Peaches/ Paige Stain/ Jon Sasaki/ Jin's Banana House / Greg Hefford/ Slivero & Miguel Caldron/ Pedro Zulu Gonzalez/ Paolina del Paso/ Canada's #1 Air Guitarist/ Jordan Sonenberg + Greek Buck
The I.A.E., through the mediums of film/video, sound art, slide shows, lectures/presentations, installations, and more, showcased work created/curated by arts groups from across the globe. Including the following groups:
N55 Temporary Services (Binder Archives)
Red76 arts group
Eveleigh and Evans
Jane Palmer/Marianne Fairbanks (Personal Power)
love and devotion
It Can Change
We've heard that the overall I.A.E. project had a huge impact on the local scene in Portland (included below is some press to give you a sense of the event).
It wasn't First Thursday, but Thursday was a big night for an emerging area of the local art landscape. Underground arts culture in Portland reached a new apex as the Red76 arts group hosted the first International Arts Group Exhibition. If Portland's indie arts scene came of age last Thursday -- and it may well have -- plenty of people were there to help it along. From Our Advertiser
The sturdy old Laurelhurst Theater & Pub teemed with a sea of artists, and predictably the 'sters (scenesters, trendsters, hipsters) were out en masse, like a Sleater-Kinney bobblehead doll night at the Rose Garden. Though some just came for the show, most were working artists of one kind or another. Paige Saez videotaped artists and attendees alike. "It's one of those things that should be documented," she said from behind the viewfinder of her camcorder. "It's the first of its kind."
That seemed plausible: "We haven't seen anything like this in Chicago," said Jane Palmer, who together with Marianne Fairbanks showed a variety of solar powered garments -- a purse that powers a Walkman, a handbag that powers a cell phone, a vest that powers a Game Boy.
The evening was all about uniting groups from around the country and the world that work outside the corporate atmosphere of the gallery system. These artists have taken art into their own hands, R1 adopting the philosophy frequently referred to as D.I.Y. (do it yourself). Without the funding -- or the thematic and formulaic constraints -- of traditional artists, they draw on whatever influences and resources are at hand to create something to share with people interested in experiencing something new.
Every corner of the theater was filled with D.I.Y. art -- in the lobby was a solar-powered mobile radio transmitter set up by Temporary Services, a Chicago group. The machine infiltrated the low end of every FM radio dial within a two mile radius with avant-garde beats from a collection of CDs built into the transmitter. In the restrooms, another Chicago group called Lucky Pierre played recordings from their voice-mail service, which people can call and swear at for as long as they care to. The result was a filthy audio graffiti that, sadly, was not quite loud enough to hear clearly over the running water.
In addition, each of the Laurelhurst's four screens was alive with dozens of different performers, films, slide shows and more in only a few hours.
"A group of four or six people can come, split up and not see the same show at all," said Khris Soden, who, along with other Red76 members Sam Gould and Matthew Yake put the event together. "It's a grab bag."
Soden, a diminutive, cheerful chap who pronounces "theater" so that it rhymes with "Decatur," spent most of the evening trapped inside thee-AY-ter three, trying desperately to keep his corner of the proceedings on schedule. Soden fared better in this than the curators at the other screening rooms, who had openly abandoned their schedules midway through the program (schedules, you see, are just another tool of the corporate/industrial hegemony). Some semblance of order was maintained by the curators shouting over the din of the roiling crowd that filled the lobby when a new artist was about to start.
The depth and breadth of the work created a unique artistic environment. Passing from one screening room to the next, darting in and out in the middle of presentations, conversing in the lobby, each attendee could experience the exhibition in a different way. Just as each individual work of art tested the boundaries of traditional art forms, so too did the sum total of the evening. The interaction between each piece in the unique sequence each viewer experienced it created something greater than any individual exhibit.
It was clear that Soden, Gould and Yake hadn't invited artists haphazardly. Despite the wide range of mediums used to communicate, each artist was approaching his or her art from nearly the same place. What set the show apart from the increasingly frequent D.I.Y. performances in Portland was the cumulative impact of seeing so many artists' works side by side.
And although fans of the work love such a diverse, eclectic mix of artists, the real treat is for the artists themselves, who rarely get an opportunity to see what groups in other cities and countries are doing with the same resources and the same devotion. Some of the most eagerly anticipated acts drew standing room only crowds in the large auditoriums. The Distance Formula, Portland artist/cult hero Johnne Eschleman's outfit, showed its film "Crash & Burn," accompanied by Eschleman on guitar and keyboard. The piece is constructed of edited, scratched and spliced bits of old Hollywood and other films, and the effect is startling.
Red76 and the Rasbullito Collective showed their own short film, "Click Track," eight minutes of people dancing to the beat of an extremely loud metronome accompanied by truly disturbing live free jazz. Headaches for all!
Sean Clair gave a slide presentation on his hometown of Utica, N.Y. The rough-edged, heartfelt and hilariously funny monologue was indicative of the spirit of most of the event. In the minutes before Clair went on, the crowd mustered a lackluster chant of "Utica! Utica!" a la Al Pacino in "Dog Day Afternoon." As Clair read from his notes, the house lights went dark and he decided to wing it, with some help from a guy with a flashlight.
Gabriel Mindel Saloman, an Oakland, Calif., member of the Portland-based Collective Jyrk, donned a tweed jacket and read a carefully crafted cultural history of 1999 that gradually descended into a rant against the corporate entertainment/mind control machine, punctuated with occasional slugs from a flask.
Smoking on the sidewalk before his performance, the rail-thin, cape-wearing and wildly talented Eschleman put the whole D.I.Y. aesthetic into perspective. "The reason my movies are the way they are," he said as a drunken malcontent screamed at him from the back of a passing bus, "is because I have no money. If I had money, I'd actually shoot my own movies, instead of just scratching up old ones."
Nestor Ramos is a Portland writer. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org