Shaping Narratives

About cultural encounters and the current state of being

Vodafone Boy | 2018

Shaping Narratives

Until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be his hero.


Time's continuous flow renders today's actions as tomorrow's history, highlighting the importance of shaping our narrative now. This holds true as cultural norms, behaviours, and values are embedded in language, intertwining with our upbringing and heritage. Personal experiences stemming from different cultures lead to the complexity of individual perspectives.


Navigating Cultural Shifts
Growing up amid diverse Ghanaian and Hungarian roots within the predominantly white culture of the Netherlands, I found my behavioural patterns influenced by the cultural environment. The passage of time revealed that seemingly innocuous names and traditions were rooted in a history of racial hierarchy and oppression. While these elements were historically neutral, they carry connotations that impact the black community negatively today. The challenge emerged not in denying history, but in transforming it to reshape the narrative of our present and future.
Human Imperfection and Societal Evolution
Shifting the narrative requires acknowledging humanity's imperfections without assigning guilt. Dominance, discrimination, and oppression have historically been survival strategies, a facet of our complex journey. As societies adapted, those adept at war prevailed. The struggle lies in reconciling the duality of civilized existence and survival instincts. It's an ongoing, dynamic effort that demands conscious work.
Embracing the Present and Shaping the Future
Living in the present and recognizing its impact on the future is the universal constant. Our actions today inevitably shape tomorrow. Amid these reflections, a crucial question arises: Who are today's heroes in our diverse global cultures? Is it the ecosystems that sustain us or the prevailing pursuit of monetary value? The underpinning value system often gravitates towards profit-driven principles, bringing questions about capitalism and its consequences.
Unveiling Modern Narratives
Personal encounters during an artist residency in Ghana unveiled a contemporary narrative. A chance encounter with a man wearing a Vodafone T-shirt in front of a slavery monument prompted contemplation. The juxtaposition of historical pain and modern consumerism evoked thoughts about dominant narratives. Billboards now echo religious motifs, a nod to the pervasive religious influences, particularly Christianity. The collision of capitalism, religion, and culture blurs lines.
Erosion of Freedom and the Rise of Manipulation
The confluence of global companies and religious motifs raises ethical concerns. Are these dynamics a subtle form of modern slavery? The encroachment of foreign corporations manipulating consumer choices through religious allusions blurs the lines between freedom and control. The question arises: Can true freedom coexist with profit-driven strategies?
In a world where narratives shift, where history transforms with time, it becomes evident that every era grapples with its defining struggles. The Lion seeks its historian, endeavouring to reshape the narrative, and thus, the perception of the hunter as a hero. As we confront the interplay of history, culture, and power dynamics, the future of heroism remains an enigma waiting to be unravelled.

Lawrence Kwakye August 2023

Shaping Narratives | Info sheet 2023

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Title: Future now Promise later imitate me as I imitate_?

An Oil painting was made during the artist-in-residence project in Ghana in 2018.

Click on image to enlarge.

Some sketches from my sketchbook exploring concepts.

Photo series Ghana 2018 | exploring new narritaves

Artwork | We have to be white | 2018