LION phase 1
/ THE LIONESS METHOD for perfect integration
the Assimilation mask or Integration mask
Phase 1 investigated extreme assimilation by developing a therapeutic procedure (including the use of a white face mask) to guarantee the assimilation of Flemish people of foreign descent into white Flemish society.
In my autobiographical documentary COLOUR BAR, I describe the journey of my obligatory assimilation process toward a pure Flemish identity in Flanders. My Congolese culture and identity was white-washed so I could be recognised as a member of the Flemish community of Belgium, a white community. To my great dispair I realised that a part of the Flemish population still questioned my Flemish identity even if I was perfectly assimilated. One of the main reasons was my brown skin colour.
LION is the sequel of Colour Bar. LION was originally an artistic and intellectual exercise to achieve my final goal, namely the definitive recognition of my Flemish identity by the entire Flemish population. But the project organically evolved into an attempt to solve the problem of integration in Flanders. Although the problem of integration is a major point on the Flemish political agenda, the political response to the problem is still focussing on an assimilation-program that is failing. The (super-) diverse reality of Flanders is still not taken into consideration sufficiently. So it is up to cultural initiatives to pinpoint the problem of integration and the flaws in the political response, but also to inspire the political world with solutions to the problem.
Phase 1 was the development and the promotion of a three-staged therapeutic model, called the LIONESS-model. That model guaranteed the integration of people of black African descent like me in Flemish society with a success rate of 95%. The only way to acquire a Flemish identity is through a perfect assimilation of Flemish identity. This requires radical and extreme measures. "By any means necessary" was the slogan. One must consume more Flemish culture than the average Flemish person in order to achieve that level of perfection. To verify (to validate) this therapeutic model, it was applied on Jan (John K Cobra), my alter ego and identical twin brother. Jan and I have Flemish and Congolese genetic and cultural roots. Jan experienced stage 1 and 2 of the model. Stage 2 focuses on perfecting Flemish identity through a physical and cultural transformation. One of the transformation tools is the use of a white skin mask made from latex produced from the Hevea-forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. My father was a specialist in the production of Congolese latex for 45 years. He was the first to introduce a revolutionary technique to purify the latex to a concentration of 90%, making it almost white. The facial features of Jan's mask are based on the facial features of my white Belgian father, Roland Gunst Sr., and my Afro-European face, Roland Gunst Jr. Luckily my father and I look like twin brother and only differ in two aspects: skin color and hair. This mask is a tool to facilitate integration in Flanders; by filtering out my negroid facial features. Thanks to this masks the streets of Flanders can be filled with white faces. Real faces and latex faces. This might become the new face of Flanders if we really want to solve the integration problem.
This model has been proven efficient for all people of foreign origin living in Flanders, so why not in the Western world?
No other inhabitant of Flanders has ever pursued that dream of perfecting Flemish identity with such an absolute devotion as my alter ego, Jan. By applying the LIONESS-model, Jan became the symbol of Flemish perfection. He achieved the supreme status of King of Flanders. He became "De Leeuw van Vlaanderen" (the Lion of Flanders). The blackness of this Lion King comes from his black African genes. One must not forget that Africa is the land of the lion and not Flanders.
Phase 1 consists of performances, photography and an installation.