Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Every year there is this performance-art festival—I guess that’s what it is—called T:BA. That stands for Time-Based Art (didn’t you know?)

And every year, T:BA comes up with an increasingly cryptic promotional poster. Too bad if you want any details about who, what, when, or where. Who needs that boring crap? It’s so much better to have a provocative poster that will dazzle people with its hip-ness.

I know almost nothing about marketing or design, but I do know this: The design should be subordinate to the message not the other way around. But every year, T:BA comes up with a poster in which the message is nowhere to be found.

I have nothing against the festival. But I do not get why they go out of their way to undermine their promotional efforts. How does that make any kind of sense? If people don’t even know what the heck the poster is advertising, there is no way they’re going to be able buy tickets, and if they don’t buy tickets, the festival will fail to thrive, and there will be no inscrutable poster to design next year.

I can testify that at the one T:BA performance I did manage to find out about (through other means, of course), there was an audience of about a dozen people. It was a stupendous tour-de-force show, too. The show got rave reviews in other cities and I’m sure sold out everywhere else. Not in Portland. Because no one knew about it. I’m sure the artist was pissed as hell about that. And I'm sure that Portland is now at the top of her Do-Not-Set-Foot-In List. Too, too bad.

Anyway, enough ranting. Here’s this year’s inscrutable poster. Click on it, then mouseover the image to read my annotations, paying particular attention to the bathing costume (I guess that’s what you’d call it). Does anything seem to be missing?



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