Only a few blocks north, in the Wieden & Kennedy lobby, Damien Gilley and Jordan Tull have created an invigorating futuristic environment called RE/ACTIVATE, which functions simultaneously as large-scale sculpture, architecture, interior design and stage set. On First Thursday, dancer Rachel Tess performed throughout the environment to an eerie soundtrack by Thomas Thorson. As Tess moved within Gilley and Tull’s wooden rhombuses, orange Plexiglas, and canted fluorescent light bulbs, audience members were compelled to ponder the point at which an aesthetic object in its own right becomes merely a backdrop to human performance.
This question is the crux of Karl Burkheimer’s In Site at
Disjecta. The installation, which Burkheimer prefers to call a
“site-responsive object,” is an enormous, sloping wooden scaffold with a
round, sunken space toward the middle. Viewers are allowed to walk on
it, drink, socialize and hang out in the sunken hole. Viewers are not
allowed to skateboard or roller skate on the ramp, although it would
serve that purpose well. A series of dance performances have been
mounted on the piece, adding to the work’s provocation: Under what
conditions does an artwork slide from a purely contemplative function
into the realms of the utilitarian and the social? There are no
definitive answers to such questions, of course. From Marcel Duchamp
onward, anyone can call anything whatever they want to; the only
relevant issue is how effectively a creative endeavor expresses its
creator’s aims. All three of these thought-provoking shows dispatch that
task with rigor and élan.
GO: Centrifuge at Art Institute of Portland, 1122 NW Davis St., 228-6528. Closes March 31. RE/ACTIVATE In Site at Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., 286-9449. Closes March 26. in the Wieden & Kennedy lobby, 224 NW 13th Ave. Additional dance performances on March 30 and 31. Tickets, $25 or two for $40, at rumpusroomdance.org.