PICA symposium explores queer bodies and economies

By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly


"Crotch" by Keith Hennessy

Visiting queer artists — led by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) artist-in-residence Keith Hennessey — will explore “Bodies, Identities, and Alternative Economies” as part of PICA symposium June 21-24.

The symposium seeks to engage participation in the creation of an unscripted collective experience. Many of the weekend’s events will call for active participation — no passive observers here.

The symposium will feature happy hour reading groups, conversations, performances, panels, music, and a walking tour of queer Portland organized by the Dill Pickle Club.

Artists in attendance will include A.L. Steiner, A.K. Burns, Holcombe Waller, and Jodie Cavalier.
Hennessey will use the residency to work on Turbulence, a dance about the economy that will premier at September’s Time-Based Art (TBA) Festival.

“We should all be engaging questions of economy and class, with whatever resources and talents we have,” Hennessey says. “I just happen to be a maker of dance-based experimental performance, so that’s where I’m making this inquiry.

He will also perform his Bessie Award-winning solo “Crotch,” which explores both the work of Joseph Beuys and Hennessey’s divorce.

“I never intended to make a work about my gay divorce and I surely never intended to make a work about Joseph Beuys. But then I did the latter to avoid the former and ended up doing both,” Hennessey says. “Crotch is an odd work that includes very conventional theatrical entertainment and more obscure practices that hybridize installation and ritual. People laugh. A few people cry. Many agree to come into the strange world of the performance and feel themselves in a new way.”

In a way, that is the invitation extended by the entire symposium. Many of the events encourage active participation.

Steiner and Burns are hoping their film, “Community Action Center,” will, if nothing else, invite a response.

“Our goal is to engage you. With pleasure or disdain,” Burns says. “The piece can only be viewed communally and publicly, so it does require some effort on the part of the viewer to step away from their computer/their home, from convenience and move their body with intention to a location to be amongst a group of people with whom they will share the viewing experience.”

To learn more about the upcoming symposium and read interviews with the participants, watch PQ Monthly’s blog.


Local author Peter Zuckerman released a new book “Buried in the Sky” (written with Amanda Padoan) June 11. The book draws from unprecedented interviews and access to tell the story of the two Sherpas who survived a deadly day on K2 in August 2008, which claimed the lives of 11 climbers. Zuckerman’s writing has won the Livingston Award and the National Journalism Award. Padoan is a Los Angeles-based writer and mountain climber. Read more about Zuckerman and his writing here.

Cock Gallery’s current show “F*CK’D” features the sexually-charged work of four Brooklyn artists — Alvaro Luna, Nicholas Rispoli, Jason Talley, and Anthony Viti. Their works address everything from internal neurosis and notions of beauty to sero status. The show runs through June 30 at 625 NW Everett St. #106. Open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and by appointment.

The First Congregational Church will host the Portland premiere of “The Right to Love: An American Family,” a documentary about a family that created a YouTube show to combat ignorance about marriage equality, June 15 at 7:30 p.m.. The straight filmmakers say they had no prior connections to the LGBTQ community and called the process transforming. The family – Jay Foxworthy, Bryan Leffew and their two children — will be present for the screening.

Kaj-Anne Pepper (Gender Fantasy) will direct and perform in a new collaborative piece called WRQ! for Hand2Mouth’s Risk/Reward Festival June 23-24 at Artist Repertory Theatre and July 19-21 as part of Conduit Dance Studio’s Dance+ series. WRQ! features the newly founded DECEPTiCONS (Pepper, dancer Jen Hackworth, Carla Rossi, and Mickey Pollizatto). Learn more about this queer exploration of sound, music, dance, and theatre at kajannepepper.wordpress.com.