/ audio-visual narratives
We, members of the John K Cobra Institute of Videoarfacts, intervene in social, cultural and political realities that face challenges, tensions and conflicts. We inseminate these social, cultural and political realities with videoartfacts, to generate change or to inspire change in these realities and in the subjects of these realities.
A videoartfact is an audio-visual narrative, a narrative sculpture, designed by John K Cobra.
Roland Gunst, aka John K Cobra, (*1977) is a self-taught visual artist, cinematographer and musician of Belgian-Congolese (D.R.C.) origin, dividing his time between Flanders (the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium) and South Africa. From an autobiographical perspective he experiments with the potential of the hybrid identity and Afro-European narratives, deeply inspired by the concept of Afropeanism, in response to conflicts and tensions between black Africa and the white West. It is conflict he has personally experienced and navigated since birth.
Afropeanism is an attitude that cherishes and values hybridity, intercultural encounters, multilingualism, transnationality and cosmopolitanism. It does so through the prism of Afro-European relations throughout history and challenges the ambiguity of the blackness/whiteness discourse that still permeates current perceptions of identity and difference. Afropeanism is an antiracist and anti-essentialist ideology of encounter, knowledge-sharing and prejudice-awareness that bridges the apparently unbridgeable and that points to the common past, present and future of so-called ‘black’ and ‘white’ people, and by extrapolation of the whole human race. (Sibo Kanobana & John K Cobra)
John K Cobra acts as a Nganga Nkisi, a Congolese traditional medicine man/wise man/healer who in a European context can be seen as a mix of a pseudo scientist/doctor/priest/psychologist/philosopher and artist/performer. A Nganga Nkisi develops and manipulates what he calls videoartfacts or audiovisual narratives: films (documentaries and experimental films), lecture performances, mixed media and installations.
The concept of the videoartfact finds its origin in the Congolese (D.R.C.) tradition of power figures used in animistic rituals. Power figures are mostly wooden statues, masks or figurines, but they can also take other more contemporary artistic forms such as a film, a music composition, an installation, a performance… The power figure or the art work is a container of spiritual forces or an audiovisual narrative (a videoartfact) that can be released on an individual, a community or a reality aimed at "curing" physical, social or spiritual dysfunctionalities, deficiencies, illnesses or conflicts. The combination of a narrative structure and an audiovisual art form creates a specific formula to obtain a certain result.
Videoartfacts are in their essence (content and form) mainly Afropean as they are spaces of correlation in which African and European cultural traditions meet, merge and engender a creole cultural product inspired by Afropeanism.
The spaces where these videoartfacts are presented and performed instantly become liminal spaces (mental and physical spaces of transformation) for the public interacting with the artwork. In antropology, liminality (from the Latin word limen, meaning "a threshold") is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their preritual status, but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold once the rite is complete. During a rite's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which is established by completing the rite.
In this liminale space the public undergoes an intellectual, physical and spiritual reflection and transformation.
By inseminating reality with audiovisual narratives John K Cobra confronts social, cultural and political realities and their subjects with narratives that inspire change or generate change (transformation) in these realities and in the subjects of these realities.
John K Cobra, Roland Gunst’s alter ego, is frequently activated as a character in a videoartfact. His presence and his performance function as a catalyst in Congolese ritual dance performance. His main attribute is a ritual mask that enables him to have many faces and identities. A mask depicts a person's psychological and moral characteristics, rather than serving as a portrait. Through John K Cobra's presence, Roland Gunst, becomes both observer and participant in a videoartfact. In the project LION, Roland Gunst is King Lion I, the Black Lion of Flanders, King of the Afropean Kingdom of Flanders...
A videoartfact is also an artefact of an intervention.
A John K Cobra intervention is a collective movement.
We act as a community. We are storytellers.
We are John K Cobra.
ROLAND GUNST a.k.a. JOHN K COBRA