Karaoking Portland uses the participatory form of karaoke to tell narratives counter to the dominant representation of our city in popular media. The social and political struggle for a more equitable city is often overshadowed by portrayal of a city plush with microbrews, food, bikes, and boutiques.
Karaoking Portland has a relatively straight forward formula: match a local political issue with a pop song and rewrite the pop song to reflect a new narrative.
We collaborated with local organizations, activists, organizers, and artists to facilitate a song writing process about an issue specific to their expertise. Our collaborators also informed the video making aspect of the project, in which we create a unique karaoke video to accompany each song.
We established a few limitations for the production this project. All the work had to take place during our residency at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, between July 20th and July 31st. 11 songs, 11 videos, 11 days.
Within the given limitations, we worked up to the second before the public presentation to produce an event--complete with a karaoke songbook, stage, and celebration.
Ross Island in the Sun - Weird Allan Kaprow feat Linda Wysong
Ross Island is in the middle of the Willamette River and it part of a small cluster of islands formed by the Missoula floods in the Pleistocene Age. Since 1926 this large glacial deposit of sand and gravel has been mined to produce concrete, the building block of the city. Most of the east side of Portland is constructed on foundations made of Ross Island Sand and Gravel. The Army Corps of Engineers connected the adjacent Ross and Hardtack Islands with an artificial levee in 1926 to create the lagoon. Since then, the land has been hollowed out leaving only a thin strip of the once vibrant earth. In 1980, the Pamplin Corporation was required to refill parts of the lagoon. Unfortunately, contaminated material from the Port of Portland was used. Now 5 CAD (confined aquatic disposal) cells of toxic material lay deep in the river. Hydrological changes, relentless mining and botched remediation have left substantial damage. Currently, the workers are filling the underwater pit with clean material and there is talk once again of a park.
- Linda Wysong
It's Now or Never
Written in collaboration with Carmen Herrington and Pamela Phan of the Anti-Displacement PDX;
A coalition of community-based organizations working to end displacement and expand access to affordable housing in Portland, OR.