FOR TEN DAYS every September since 2003, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival (TBA) turns Oregon’s largest city into a temporary international performance hub, casting local artists alongside better-known global acts in a drama that normally plays out at a round-robin of bigger festivals around the world: Buenos Aires, Melbourne, New York, and beyond. Disused industrial sheds become a nightclub and cafeteria; a crude theater-in-the-round is hewn from a now-defunct press; conventional theaters participate too, hosting shows night after night; tram lines fill with audiences rushing to get from one venue to the next.
The drama was as fresh for most of the Portland artists as it was stale for the handful of mobile acts that periodically fly in and out of these fairs. Australian chanteuse Meow Meow looked simply exhausted, defeated by the provision of an absurdly
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