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Friday, August 7, 2009

The Works at TBA: Washington High School

Posted by Alison Hallett on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Every year, PICA chooses a different location for the Works, the Time-Based Art festival's late-night performance/party space. The Wonder ballroom two years ago was a misstep; Leftbank proved awkward last year thanks to bad sightlines and a cramped dance floor. This year's venue could not be more perfect.

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A couple weeks ago, before cleanup had really begun and while the building still lacked electricity, I got a chance to explore Washington High School on Southeast Stark, an old high school that's been sitting unused for several years (white boards are still scribbled with inspirational messages from when the school was requisitioned by FEMA to house Katrina refugees). Washington will house music, a few regular festival performances, and TBA's visual programming, including installations—Ethan Rose's sound installation Movements, which employs more than 100 altered music boxes, will be in the school's old library. There's an illicit thrill to being in a repurposed school—it feels like a clubhouse. A rambly, spooky, cavernous clubhouse. Shows will be held in the school's auditorium (chairs are being removed to create a dance floor, and the upper balcony will be all-ages); various classrooms will house visual art; an outdoor beer garden will feature local food carts, though I haven't yet heard which ones. Basically: It's going to be fun as hell.

A full festival pass for TBA is a little spendy ($150 for non-PICA members; a Works pass is $75), but the visual art installations are free, as is the opening night Works show with Gang Gang Dance; other shows at the Works are $10. Also, volunteers can earn free tickets: email for info, or attend an orientation session on Sat Aug 15, from 1-2 pm, or Wed Aug 19, 5-6 pm (224 NW 13th; no RSVP required). Check out the full schedule of Works events here, and stay-tuned for the Mercury's TBA blog, launching later this month.

Photographer Jeff Yarbrough did his best with the building's lack of light, and got some great shots of Washington's interior—posted after the jump.

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