Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Antonin De Bemels, "La Malediction Du Bonhomme Daniel", 2010
Antonin De Bemels studied at the Ecole de Recherche Graphique in Belgium, where he developed interest in video art, specifically in the relation between sound and image, a relationship he explores through all of his works. The video La Malediction du Bonhomme Daniel (or The Curse of Bonhomme Daniel) is one of the several videos featuring the character Bonhomme Daniel. This piece is characteristic of much of Bemels' work, with sped-up, frenetic imagery. In this character Bonhomme Daniel, Bemels expresses his alter ego, a man with a simple and eerily expressionless mask. In this particular video, Daniel walks down a street, encountering one other masked human. We think nothing of this encounter until the scene darkens and takes a menacing turn. An overlay of a mask appears and morphs into a nightmarish image. Bonhomme Daniel dances hysterically, overcome with this nightmarish spirit, and attacks another masked man, perhaps the sane version of Bonhomme Daniel himself. As the setting changes from the street to a home interior, we understand that this curse follows Daniel everywhere, even into the privacy of his own home. When this work is considered in the context of the other Bonhomme Daniel works, such as Technique de la Schizophrenie it becomes clear that mental illness is a common thread throughout the series. This particular Bonhomme video is meant to “reflect on mediocrity and normality” . Applying the term “normal” to a video that displays such mental agitation suggests that perhaps this curse or illness is not as rare as we might think. Though Bonhomme Daniel is an alter ego of the artist, the anonymous quality of the masked man is undeniable, implying that the viewer might also be reflected in Bonhomme's mundane life, fragmented by mental illness.