Inbal Pinto

The Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company is visiting Portland for the third time this weekend at Lincoln Hall, bringing the new-ish production “Wallflower” (2014) to show us. Although it lacks the riotous circus surrealism of the company’s earlier shows, “Wallflower” is still an engaging dance work, once you get inside it a little.

The dance was made for the Tel Aviv Museum of Modern Art, and it’s an abstract outlier in Pinto and Pollak’s work, which typically has narrative elements. “Wallflower” doesn’t really have little stories in it. It’s more about what happens when the museum closes, the lights go down, and the paintings come to life.

White Bird is showing Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak's "Wallflower" at PSU's Lincoln Hall this weekend./Courtesy of White Bird

White Bird is showing Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s “Wallflower” at PSU’s Lincoln Hall this weekend./Courtesy of White Bird

We know the dancers are “paintings” because of their colorfully abstract costumes, and we know they are in a museum because of the two stark white walls that dominate the stage. When you think about it, paintings are a form of “wallflower,” I suppose, in a positive way, and when they start to move around they continue to maintain their affinity for the wall. In “Wallflower” the wall is a prop that the dancers constantly lean against, touch with their hands, even crawl along with the help of their colleagues. They can escape the magnetism of the wall, but usually only with the help of a bridge of their friends. And when they find themselves without a helping hand, movement is very difficult, slow, made in laborious bursts.

Accompanying them is a soundtrack provided by three Japanese musicians. The music doesn’t provide a narrative hook, either, though at “Wallflower”’s climax it moves away from its odd peculiarities and occasional darkness toward something that sounds triumphant. Yes, “Wallflower” DOES have a climax, and though I’m tempted to give it a way—it would be fun to talk about its implications—I won’t. (A hint: Think about what might be lurking beneath the “painting”?)

Along the way, the dancers have some delicious moments, first in a series of duets (no, the possibilities of the duet have not yet been exhausted) and then a set of trios. And one dancer, Zvi Fishzon, spends most of the concert wrapped in a costume that allows him to play “sculpture.” Sometimes to humorous effect, though not always.

I had the museum in mind the whole time, and I wonder how viewers who didn’t make sense of “Wallflowers” that way dealt with the piece. It could be tough sledding.

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Doing anything Friday night? How about hanging out on 82nd Avenue?

The East Side strip, which runs north-south for many miles, was once considered a barrier of sorts between the city and the sprawl, and also an economic barrier, with a richer urban population to the west and a poorer, semi-rural population to the east. East County didn’t get in the game very much, and when it did, it was often as a political football. 82nd became neon central, home to everything from used car lots to Southeast Asian restaurants to massage parlors – and, increasingly, a rich stew of ethnic and immigrant cultures.

Signs of the times: Sabina Haque's 82nd Avenue.

Signs of the times: Sabina Haque’s 82nd Avenue.

That’s what makes it interesting to Portland artist Sabina Haque, a very good painter and collagist whose work in recent years has moved also toward installation, film, and cultural and cross-cultural projects, including her provocative series on drone warfare in Pakistan, where she grew up.

Haque, as artist in residence for the Portland Archives & Records Center, has been digging deeply into the area’s long and complicated history, finding a cultural through-line to match the strip of concrete that divides culture from culture and east from west. From 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday she’ll unveil what she’s created in Annexation & Assimilation: East 82nd Ave, a giant exhibition/event in the 8,000-square-foot APANO/JADE multicultural center at 82nd and Southeast Division Street. The free event will include video projections on 20-foot screens, oral histories, shadow theater, poster installations and more – for some, a rousing introduction to a part of Portland they hardly know; to others, a simple statement of the place they live.

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