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The Assimilation mask becomes King LION I's crown

left: Roland Gunst Jr / middle: Roland Gunst Sr
right: Roland Gunst Jr as King LION I. Gunst wears an assimilation mask made of white rubber from Congo. The mask combines the facial features of his white Flemish father and his Belgian Congolese facial features. The white mask is an instrument to assimilate in Flemish society. King LION I will wear his mask, one of his three regalia, so the people of Flanders recognise him as one of them, the Lion of Flanders from the prophecy.

Darkness is the story of the transformational ritual of a Congolese prince with Flemish-Congolese roots, my alter ego JAN, into King LION of Flanders. This is the journey from Congo to Flanders in the mystical world, living behind the Congolese urban and countryside reality. During this journey, LION will develop his hybride identity and his royal status by gathering knowledge about his Congolese-Flemish (Afropean) culture and history, three regalia and supernatural powers . One of the three regalia is his crown in the shape of a white-skinned latex mask, thanks to which the people of Flanders will recognise themselves in their king. On this journey he is accompanied by a living organism that has the appearance of a semi-solid rock formation called "the mass." Arriving in Flanders he will declare Flanders "the New World," discovered by the Congolese people. He will also declar the start of the colonisation of Flanders by the Congolese people to save Flanders from the curse of the Integration Monster. With the plasma of the mass, LION will build an Afropean (Afro-European) kingdom in Flanders starting with the construction of three palaces. In these three palaces the Flemish population will undergo an obligatory transformation ritual to construct an  Afropean identity. The Flemish people ondergo the experience of colonisation and integration in order to be liberated and to achieve maturity. The migratory movement from Africa to Europe is essential to human life. Africa brought human life to Europe and through this exercise Africa brings true civilisation to Europe, which is Afropeanism. This story is like many mythes and legends a story about love between Congo, represented by King LION, and Flanders ,represented by Flandria, the Patroness of Flanders. The transformation of Flanders will begin with Flandria's transformation.   


This Afropean future of Flanders is inspired by the concept Afropeanism and by European history. The people of Flanders are introduced to the forgotten -- and hidden -- history of how the African presence, their cultures and identities, influenced Europe from 1500 (and even before). Africans were living in all social classes of European society since 1500. They were Europeans. Some of these Afro-Europeans -- or Afropeans -- were members of famous European families, established artists and intellectuals. These include Alessandro de' Medici, the French writer Alexandre Dumas or the Russian poet Aleksandr Poesjkin. Around the 18th and 19th century a racial hierarchy was introduced that changed the relationship between Africa and Europe. Racial hierarchy became the main reference of the European worldview. This Afropean history was whitewashed and hidden. But post-colonial history can't be whitewashed anymore. Africa can't be ignored or hidden any more. Africa is a unmistakable part of Europe, like Europe is a unmistakable part of Africa. 


Through this transformation ritual Flemish people will learn that European societies were diverse from early on and Europeans should embrace their true history. European identities will always contain African particles. The story of LION believes in regaining that Afropean identity -- the Afropean attitude -- that might be the resolution of the integration problem in Europe. 


This story is constructed and articulated in a series of performances, lectures, installations, films and an opera performance. 


Phase 2: ACT I consists of performances, photography, videos and installations.

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