Posted by: Levi Hanes
I knew I was in trouble when the interim screen was a projection of a burning candle in close up. The image looked like an abstract motion of color, but it soon was obvious what the image was. Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR [as his bio refers to him]) had a few moments of this abstracted cliche image in his show. The video displayed vaguely abstract images of nostalgic travelogue accompanied by music of familiar folk passages and harmonic dissonance.
Roumain’s performance was polished and solid. The music DBR composed for the film footage had an Appalachian folk theme that reoccurred through out, reminiscent of Aaron Copeland. Though I can’t stand Copeland I thought Roumain handled the folkey/hokey fairly well. There were definite moments of enthrallment. When the video stops and Roumain tears into his piece with fiery bravado I couldn’t help but be mesmerized. Oh, and a beautiful bit where DBR moves across stage countering the film footage moving the other way on the screen and a bit where he plays a tune with an audio clip featuring a street performer who is revealed on the screen playing before the Museu du Pompidou, Paris. That part had a nice middle-eastern chant to it which I thought had a good dig of the outsider confronting the “establishment,” though I was not sure what language the onscreen performer was singing so whether the dig was an Mid-East meets West bit or not is questionable.
In the end DBR told a nice story. The composition was tender with hints of dissonance as punctuation. Still, I couldn’t help feeling that the work was nostalgic to the point of kitsch, “Vision Blinding” ended with a standing ovation, so it was a crowd pleaser. As long as TBA follows through with some works that provide a mental, aesthetic challenge pieces like “Vision Blinding” can have a place as a bridge for a general audience.