To help you navigate this year’s Festival, we’ll be sharing regular posts on some of the “through-lines” of this year’s program. Whether you have a particular interest in dance or site-specific projects or visual art or film, we’ve got a whole suite of projects for you to discover. So buy a pass and start making connections between this year’s artists. This week, we’ll highlight a mix of projects from around the world.

With TBA:12, we’re especially proud of our global lineup—this year, PICA will welcome artists from a dozen different countries across Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. Think of it as an international tour of contemporary artistic practice. It’s a chance to find commonalities across borders and experience the regional differences of vernacular styles. By bringing this diversity of artists, TBA creates a unique dialogue between artists and a ground for future collaborations and installations to take root.

Of all of the work we’re bringing, we happen to have a strong cluster of projects from Africa. In presenting a few artists, we hope to avoid the “flattening” impulse of labeling an individual as a distinctly “African” artist, as though any one artist could speak for an entire continent. Africa is a broad continent, with myriad distinctions and cultures and practices, but so often there is a tendency to exoticize international projects and hold them up as capturing the spirit of a region. These artists we’re bringing are making vital, powerful projects that are based in their everyday experiences, but make an impact across cultures.

Zimbabwe-born and US-based choreographer Nora Chipaumire will present Miriam, her first foray into a more character-driven dance, along with the incredible dancer Okwui Okpokwasili.

Renowned dancer Faustin Linyekula returns to TBA after many years to present his first-ever solo performance, Le Cargo, Linyekula delves into his early memories of dance and music, continuing his powerful investigations of the Congo’s tumultuous and violent history.

The African projects continue onto the late-night stage of THE WORKS, with a unique inter-continental collaboration between Portland band BRAINSTORM, and a host of African musicians, both in the Sahel region of West Africa and here in Portland. Skype performances, YouTube covers, and more bring global pop music together online and IRL.

One such international collaboration actually connects our African projects with a large contingent of projects by renowned Japanese performers working across music, dance, and theater. It’s an interesting moment to consider the Japanese art scene—what does it mean to be making working post-Fukushima? How are artists reflecting on the concerns and experiences of their country? In (glowing), TBA alum Kota Yamazaki works through some of the seminal ideas of Japanese aesthetics by way of a long-running collaboration with artists from Senegal and Ethiopia.

Voices & Echoes sees the return of sound artist Aki Onda, who has curated a trio of influential experimental musicians from Japan. Akio Suzuki, Gozo Yoshimaso, and Otomi Yoshihide blend traditional and invented instruments with sound art, poetry, and striking performance.

Working in a similarly experimental vein, director Toshiki Okada has made a definitive mark on Japanese theater with his company chelfitsch. In Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech, his uniquely choreographed style of performance will be in full display—it’s theater that will appeal to dance lovers, and a wry take on contemporary Japanese office life.

Crossing the Pacific to North America, we’ll also be presenting an amazing young Mexican theater company, Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, with two politically-minded “documentary” plays. Their works excavate Mexican social and political history through a blend of video and live performance, shedding light on this contemporary moment in the process.

But the international artists don’t just work on stage. Curated by Zvonimir Dobrovic of Queer New York International, Perforations presents a trio of Serbian and Croatian site-specific performance projects by Petra Kovacic, Biljana Kosmogina, and East Rodeo. Through the rooms and hallways of Washington High School, these three artists will present a satirical political campaign, a musical installation, and an abstract performance.

Within End Things, the visual art program at TBA, Italian artist Alex Cecchetti will lead a daily “relay” performance, Summer is not the prize of winter; French artist Isabelle Cornaro will create large-scale painted murals in the PICA offices derived from her films; and Dutch duo Van Brummelen & De Haan will present a filmic recreation of the famed Pergamon frieze, stolen from Turkey and residing in Berlin.

So many of these artists cross datelines, work with peers and collaborators from multiple countries, and reflect an increasingly global culture, while remaining indebted to their cultural differences. It’ll be a big TBA for anyone looking to discover new international ideas. I feel like I took a trip just writing about all of these projects!

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