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Tropical Bungalow a site of rehabilitati
Tropical Bungalow a site of rehabilitati

Roland Gunst has been researching the typology of the tropical Bungalow, a housing model of the colonial infrastructure in Belgian Congo designed to outline power relations. This unique design regulated interracial interactions and programmed racial categories. It thaught black bodies how to walk, talk, think and work. The Tropical Bungalow was therefore an instrument of oppression creating transgenerational trauma on black bodies. 


Oppression affects your body, identity and selfesteem. Trauma represses memories of violence and influences the way you speak, move, look or behave. In his work, Gunst proposes to reverse the function of the Tropical Bungalow and install it as an instrument for rehabilitation from trauma on black bodies. In this way he wants to create a space where history and (body)identity can be (re)constructed through a polyvocal performative ritual inspired by the Luba oral tradition called Milandu. 


Milandu is a verbal and performative practice in which different parties negotiate around one historical event in an attempt to solve a ongoing dispute. Around one specific colonial event each party adapts its critical narrative according to social, political and economical motivations and to the audience present. The chosen performed narrative defines, imposes and declares the social and political indentity of the speaker or the community. 


As in a Milandu, the mnemonic device used in Luba culture called a memory board devides a space in zones in which memory events are encoded. The narrator activates or performs in a specific zone to provoke memory reproduction. In the Gunst’s film Tropical Bungalow, as well as in his performance Spirit Capital, a modular version of the Tropical Bungalow, used as a memoryboard, becomes a public space and functions as the stage on which history and identities are (re)composed in front of an interacting audience.

Concept, direction, editing: Roland Gunst_John k Cobra 

Dramaturg: Esther Severi 

Text: Roland Gunst_John k Cobra & Ester Severi

Performer 1 / choreographer: Smangaliso Ngwenya

Performer 2: Henrietta Scholtz

Narrator: Gabriele Steinhauser 


Produced by the John K Cobra institute of Videoarfacts with the support of IFAS, EUNIC Member Organisation and WITS University Johannesburg

15' lecture performance premiered at the 2021 Conference: In whose place? Confronting vestiges of the colonial landscape in  Africa, at WITS University&Johannesburg Art Gallery, in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

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