Culture Is Better than Civilization 2004
by Stephenal Thakiy

2007 • 025

Acrylic on Canvas.
21.7 x 23 inches / 56 x 58.8 cm

Lent by the Sudanese Education Fund

Culture Is Better than Civilization 2004

Culture is Better than Civilization, that is what they say. When they are in their [own] culture they can do what ever they want to do but when they are civilized they cannot do what they did before. They are afraid that they will change when they go to America and be like these people.

Daniel Kawani


The conflicted feelings of this young man and woman are hauntingly represented in the lower right corner of the painting. The clustered figures and intertwined bodies, which provocatively depict the anxiety about their displacement, also seem to symbolize a chaotic, hedonistic, society which could consume the essence of who they are - their culture and their spirit. The use of the color green in the new car, noted by some Sudanese to represent hope, is in chromatic opposition to the reds, pinks, and purples that represent the unknown.

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This website has been developed by the Museums and Public Memory (Anth 159a) class taught by Professor Mark Auslander at Brandeis University. Images have been reproduced with the permission of the African Refugee Artists Club.