DJ Spooky–Friday Sept 9
Daniel Bernard Roumain–Saturday Sept 10
Faustin Linyekula–Monday Sept 12
posted by Gavin Shettler
So the first three nights of attending this year’s TBA (by the way, I think TBA is one of the greatest things that has happened to this town, GO TBA! It reminds me of the music festivals I attended at a teenager…intense, fun, educational, naughty) I suddenly stumbled upon a bit of a coincidence. Ok, maybe not a coincidence. I’m sure that the curators knew what they were up to. Three shows, three black artists, all dealing with identity. not just personal identity, but the black individual, and how they fit within a national identity.
We first have DJ Spooky looking at a racist film, Birth of a Nation. Racism still exists today, its part of our culture and national identity. But how does a black person over come the division between white and black. How does an ex-slavery population, only 2 generations after segregation assimilate? we as a society, and particularly white society just want it to go away, so we ignore it.
So then there was Daniel Romain. A true master of the violin. Using Philip Glass-like repetition he transforms the old traditional spiritual Amazing Grace into a hypnotic journey. He contemplates the american experience through video footage of cities and intertwined children songs (London Bridge is falling Down). The work was meditative, and at times filled with frustration of the monotiny and persistence of time and change.
Then we had Linyekula with a beautiful dance, chronically the history of the Congo. That history being on that has replayed itself over and over again throughout Africa. A sad story of the conflict between colonial loyalists, ancient tribes and the people stuck in the middle (it made me cry…it was great).
A sense of love and alienation persists through out all three of these works. Clearly the artists love their respected countries, but love is not enough. This string of performances are an interesting choice to present. One of the strangest things I found when I first moved to Portland in 1994 was how white it is. It took some time getting used to it. At first it made me very uncomfortable. I had moved from Kansas City which is 35% black population. The black population in Portland is shockingly isolated. We have a long history of deep rooted racism in these parts. Its almost more important for this community to realize its own ignorance and apathy. we all have a long way to go. I don’t know if I have done a very good job in representing these ideas, but I felt it was important to try.