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© Stef Stessel

‘Domination must envelop the subjugated, the colonised, and maintain them in a more or less permanent state of trance, intoxication, and convulsion so that they are incapable of thinking lucidly for themselves.’ – Achille Mbembe 


SPIRIT CAPITAL refers to an object from the Congolese Luba tradition: a wooden headrest, usually with two identical female figures at its base. These objects serve as ‘lieux de mémoire’, or spirit and history containers. They are part of a complex, reflective and historical infrastructure within the Luba community. 


Two female, outwardly identical performers move through the theatre space. The stage design evokes the ‘Tropical Bungalow’, a residential structure installed by the colonizer in the Congo and organized according to the principle of ‘zoning’: the strict separation of circulation space for whites (the colonial residents) and blacks (the local domestic staff). The so-called boys, the black youths who worked there, began to copy the behaviour and style of the white ruler and appropriate them in all sorts of ways. This was the start of a rich tradition of ‘Sapologie’ or ‘SAPE’: performative identity practices of Congolese dandies, a counterculture to the spatial, social and racial classification of bodies.  


SPIRIT CAPITAL transforms the stage into a ritualized place and invites viewers on a spatial and mental journey in which historically oppressed bodies can cast off the chains of history and free themselves through movements, words, sounds, music and changes to their appearance.  




Concept & direction: Roland Gunst_John K Cobra 

Choreography: Moya Michael 

Performers: Doris Bokongo Nkumu & Nathalie Bokongo Nkumu (Les Mybalés) 

Text: Roland Gunst_John K Cobra & Esther Severi 

Dramaturgy: Esther Severi 

Soundscape: Laryssa Kim 

Scenery: Stef Stessel 

Costumes: Andrea Kränzlin

Narrator: Maravilha Munto 

Production: John K Cobra institute of Videoartfacts, Moussem Nomadisch Kunstencentrum 

Co-production: deSingel, Kunstencentrum Vooruit, Kaaitheater, d e t h e a t e r m a k e r

Supported by: de Vlaamse Gemeenschap en de Algemene Afvaardiging van de Vlaamse Regering in zuidelijk Afrika 

Thanks to: Arsenaal/Lazarus, Latitudes Art Fair, The Centre for the Less Good Idea 

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