Portland, OR based art-collective-of-two MSHR have had a busy year. Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy deepened their self-mythologizing practice during a residency at NYC's Eyebeam and just returned from Langenthal, Switzerland, where they constructed the sister show to this year's Time-Based Art Festival (TBA) installation. All this work means the TBA crowd gets more MSHR than ever before - more complex interlocking shapes of ambiguous signification, more mind-bending feedback loops of sound and light and, notable for the group's artistic evolution, more physical space, as the installation sprawls out in a large corner of the warehouse-like Fashion Tech building.
MSHR's installation, Resonant Entity Modulator, is showing daily until September 30th from 12 to 6pm with a performance by the duo on September 19th at 10pm not to be missed.

MSHR

MSHR
"Where we're at right now, it doesn't make sense for us to join a preexisting community or culture that has a set of rules or traditions. That can't happen for us, but we want that -- everyone wants that -- and with this project, we're creating our own sacred spaces and traditions. Pathways in. And up." - Brenna Murphy, MSHR

 

"Although our work has a visual component, our work is more about a virtual realm. There are these invisible, virtual hyper-chambers that are there. - Birch Cooper, MSHR
MSHR Artist Collective Interview

TBA Festival 2014 is upon us, and over the course of its two-week course, Portlanders will be graced with a number of audio-visual treats, eats, and experiments. This year's lineup seems less dance-heavy than usual, but brings with it perhaps the festival's most exciting musical acts in quite some time....

Woman's Hour - Conversations LP
Listeners first encounter Conversations, the debut record by United Kingdom musicians Woman's Hour, through striking monochrome visual imagery. Black and white can be seen in everything from their album artwork and press photos to their music videos, serving not only to unify the band's music, but to incorporate their underlying interests and philosophies as well. Responsible for their visual branding is Frank and Jane, a collaboration between Woman's Hour frontwoman Fiona Jane Burgess and artist Oliver Chanarin. This article features a Q&A with Burgess and all-encompassing look at the visual collateral connected to the record, to demonstrate how the experience Woman's Hour is crafting is truly an interdisciplinary and thoughtful one.
Woman's Hour - Conversations Music Video

 

The mythological quest to express the sublime through the human body can be the great mystery and significance of dance. The grace and emotive gravity of dance inspire us to explore shared resonance and to comprehend our substance through a most intimate artistry. Yet we are ever limited by our human bodies, those endlessly elusive entities that enrobe our vocabularies and begin and end our extraordinary worlds. Butoh dancing (舞踏) is an expression of body that has found relevance outside of its roots in Japan, across cultures and generations.
Originally known only as the "dance of darkness" or "dance of death", Butoh has evolved into an encompassing expression of every element to be found through the human body. It does not transcend the human form or express a superhuman consciousness, but challenges us to comprehend ourselves through a different mentality. Despite the fairly recent origination of this dance form, it has quickly appealed and demonstrated that it speaks to something common within us, however we may allow our cultural and geographic borders to define us.

A Background on Butoh

tatsumi-hijikata Kazuo Ohno © H. Tsukamoto Dance is a corporeal poetry that speaks to us through sensual body memory and intangible thought, thus communicating experience and expressing ideals. We may, for instance, find the most exquisite aspirations to perfection in the sculptural forms of ballet and the etiquettes of ballroom dance -- but what dance is there to speak of anguish and terror? What of the uncontainable spirit that seeps from our grotesque beings in spite of vigilant taboo? Would it not be deceptive to express the most visceral of human experience through only forms of chiseled beauty? Dance that declares itself as an encompassing language for human experience yet speaks from under a veneer of piety for conventional aesthetics is fundamentally dishonest. With passionate protest to the void in integrity of expression and against standards of superficiality, Butoh emerged at the end of the 20th century. It was in the shadow of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Butoh's first breaths were drawn, already shuddering naked and borne by true darkness. Shaped into its ghostly form by dancers Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata, Butoh came to define Japanese avant-garde dance in its embrace of the totality of emotional experience and the absurdity found in the raw body. Ohno and Hijikata composed a new lyric for the human body where nothing was forbidden to experience. The revolutionary spirit of Butoh explored morbidity and sexuality in its most explicit forms. By doing so, it not only transformed the Japanese stage but connected with international audiences and dancers, tantalizing a universal desire for this same purity of expression. Until the '60s, there had been no such dance within Japan that allowed for the communication of the uninhibited body and, as far as technical form, there still exist few such parallels.

Kazuo Ohno & Tatsumi Hijikata

"Butoh, as [with] so many true arts, contains the beautiful spectrum of being. Often these first looks at Butoh are early works of suffering individuals. I have found that once the repressed or taboo aspects of life and the soul are allowed to naturally surface through the body and art, the lightness and loving joy must also be revealed." - Maureen Freehill (Seattle-based Butoh dancer, Artistic Director of "Butopia")
Devon Welsh isn't just looking for applause at the end of a Majical Cloudz song. He'll gladly accept it, nod his head a few times, and give the audience a hint of a smile, but for Welsh, the Majical Cloudz live set is about much more than that.Majical Cloudz "When you play a show, you want people to feel something," Welsh told Pitchfork's Jenn Pelly in a recent interview. "It's much better to communicate something than for people to just be like, 'Oh this is cool.'" As Welsh performs -- he's strictly the lead singer of the two-piece group that includes Matthew Otto on synth and sound mixing -- he slowly rotates his gaze throughout the crowd, moving at a snail's pace from left to right and then back again. You won't see him shutting his eyes or staring off into the distance, because his priority is ensuring that each word coming out of his mouth is fully digested by the crowd. He doesn't just casually look out into the crowd to gauge his audience, either. He stares into the eyes of every onlooker, and when his pupils fall on you, it feels like an intimate and intensely personal performance.
August 27th, 2013 @ The Echo in Los Angeles, CA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TANYA TRABOULSI
Jerusalem In My Heart have just released Mo7it Al-Mo7it, and listening to the record may simply hint at the existence of a talented instrumental band. A more appropriate description, however -- known so far to only a select and lucky few in their hometown of Montreal -- is that they are an ever-changing artistic project, which also provides fascinating fodder for cultural commentary. As a true multimedia art installation, they are a sight to behold in a live setting, and also represent a modern update on traditional Arabic music and songwriting, with additional multicultural counterpoints.

 

Upon first seeing the trailer for Botanica, I thought: here it is, a performance that might actually make use of the exciting psychedelic potentials that movement has to offer! Botanica breathes like a nature painting come to life, rooted in hypercolored projected imagery and manipulation of the human body through the use of unusual costumes and props. But powerful as it is when captured via still images, Botanica is a mixed bag when displayed as movement art; it delivers brilliantly in some regards but falls short in others.
Botanica by MOMIX is currently showing in Portland through March 2nd, 2013. * PURCHASE TICKETS *

 

In a three-part performance full of bizarre gestures and circular wording, a Japanese theatre troupe examines office politics in an off-the-cuff way. Performed completely in Japanese, everything in Cheltfisch is translated via a series of projected subtitles, allowing the subtle social dynamics of Japan to really shine through.
Part One: Hot Pepper
Three office temps sit around the table. Cue music -- and it is revealed that these three office temps are in charge of organizing a coworker Erika's farewell party. These three workers are organizing Erika's farewell party. As they discuss organizing Erika's farewell party in a roundabout fashion, they are offering very little information as they are speaking in circles. They are hardly saying anything at all despite spewing out many words, and while they speak, they are moving around the stage with exceptionally awkward gestures and positions. Their movements are completely erratic and unpredictable, quite unlike the words they are saying, which are constantly repeating the same themes in every short segment. Every few minutes is punctuated by awkward movements and repetitive text which says nothing but is humorous in its ability to say almost nothing despite their extended duration. Though the office workers spend an exorbitant amount of time talking about the same things ad nauseum, they entertain the audience with their body movements, which are much more erratic. Everything about their movements is stiff and intense, governed by no rhyme or reason, and all of the words they say harp on the same topic. Myriads of words are exchanged but little is said, just like in this paragraph. Everything about part one of Cheltfisch is about form and format and less about content. Movements follow a pattern of stilted spontaneity and words beat horses to pulpy, bruised death. Discussions about farewell parties, free monthly magazines called Hot Pepper, and motsu hot pot ("Motsunabe (もつ鍋?) is a type of nabemono in Japanese cuisine, which is made from beef or pork offal.", according to Wikipedia, which the performance itself in fact cites), offer little information, but somehow, part one never seems to stop being interesting. SEE FULL PERFORMANCE REVIEW

 

Imagine the possibilities of world revolution – an upheaval of design, and distribution of resources lighting the path to global peace and (relative) happiness. The largesse of this task is daunting, and has throughout history been commandeered by a few ambitious individuals. Thoughts like these swirled about in a small man with coke-bottle glasses: the inimitable R. Buckminster Fuller. Inventor, engineer, architect, theorist, orator, among many other things, Fuller was first and foremost a futurist – an optimistic man bent on improving his social, political, psychic and physical world with radical thought. His unique life and lifestyle have created an altogether compelling character of sizeable proportion, comprised of all the quirks, hiccups, and gemstone moments worthy of a Wes Anderson-inspired montage. And certainly, director Sam Green’s treatment of Fuller and his life work is admirable in The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a live documentary collaboration with indie rock veterans Yo La Tengo.
SEE FULL REVIEW

 

Tuesday's late night TBA fare began with a bang at Washington High School with Terrifying Women. The ambiguously advertised event promised "a video, comedy, performance, live, streaming, extravaganza" featuring Sarah Johnson, Kathleen Keogh, Angela Fair, Tanya Smith, Wendy Haynes, Diana Joy and Alicia McDaid. SEE FULL PERFORMANCE REVIEW
It's worth including an excerpt from the Facebook invite, which read:
A lot of people ask me "What do you mean by "terrifying?" And I say, "You know, like, kind of crazy but, like, good crazy? Most of the time?" Are you a terrifying woman? Or have you ever been terrified of a woman? IS TERRIFYING WOMEN FOR YOU? 1. Have you ever been told you are "too sensitive" or "too intense" yet often accused of being "too reserved" or "independent"? 2. Has anyone ever said, "You're crazy," or "What the fuck are you talking about? Can we please go to sleep now?" to you? 3. Have any mental or holistic health care professionals ever noted that "your moods seem to get in the way of your life"? or that "you feel a lot"? 4. Have you ever had an unsolicited spiritual experience? 5. Do you experience rage? Do you express it? 6. Have you ever confused love and sex? 7. Have you ever asked someone to "define obsessive"? 8. Have you ever habitually used any drugs or refused to take any drugs? 9. Have you ever been told that you vibrate at a high frequency or that you're "smart"? 10. Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of love and joy that made you cry tears of gratitude even though you knew you would most likely experience gut wrenching pain and anguish at least one more time that day? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you should definitely come see our show. If you answered "no" to all of these questions, you're a liar.
("And liars should come to the show, too!!!!" adds Kathleen Keogh in response.) The official press release described the event thusly:
"It's the Vagina Monologues on nitrous oxide wearing strap-on penises. Don't be scared, be terrified."

 

Okay, so that was enough to pique my curiosity (and apparently the curiosity of many others; the auditorium was standing room only at start time). The festivities began with a group breathing exercise led by the bleached-blonde MC, Alicia McDaid, who then proceeded to pee -- or something like it -- onto the stage, perhaps setting the tone for an evening of absurd antics. She then led her audience on a self-depricating photo tour of her recent hair exploits before going on to introduce the rest of the all-girl cast, three of whom appeared via video chat, each repping their own persona. Diana Joy, most memorably, was clad in football shoulder pads, with Blade Runner-inspired Daryl Hannah hair (wig?), and freaky pitched down voice. Basically anything she said throughout the course of the night coasted on the hilarity of her hyper-masculinity. As for her other two on-screen counterparts, each was funny, or adorable and disappointing in her own distinct way. The effect was a sort of "choose your avatar" scenario for the audience.