GLOBAL MUSEUM LAUNCH
15 institutions across 4 continents
Dates: March 24 – May 15, 2021
During a six-week global museum launch, White Cube was projected daily onto the white walls of the White Cube in Lusanga, the building which features in the film.
Fifteen key art institutions worldwide joined the event, hosting a series of screenings and debates about the projects’ implications.
Participating institutions included National Museum (Kinshasa), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), SCCA (Tamale), African Artists’ Foundation (Lagos), V-A-C (Moscow), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Wiels (Brussels), ICA (London), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), Picha (Lubumbashi), MPavilion (Melbourne), Museum MACAN (Jakarta), Sharjah Art Foundation and The Africa Institute (Sharjah) and White Cube (Lusanga).
Below is the complete list with links to the events and/or the debates.
March 24 – May 15 2021
From March 24 until May 15 White Cube could be watched online through the participating institutions. The film was also available on demand throughout the six weeks of the event.
Program of screenings and debates:
24 March – KW, Berlin
Debate with Clémentine Deliss, Tirdad Zolghadr and Renzo Martens.
30 March – ICA, London
The film was available directly from the ICA platform to their members from 30 March 7pm until 6 April 7pm. A conversation with Azu Nwagbogu and Suhail Malik was published on the same day.
1 April – MPavilion, Melbourne
Screening of White Cube with an introduction by Renzo Martens, David Gianotten, Cedart Tamasala, with Helen Runting and Arsene Ijambo.
10 April – African Artists’ Foundation, Lagos
A debate with Renzo Martens, Cedart Tamasala, Oluwatoyin Sogbesan and Azu Nwagbogu, in collaboration with Alliance Française de Lagos.
14 April – Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
A screening of White Cube followed by a debate with Charles Esche and Cedart Tamasala, moderated by Renzo Martens.
22-24 April – Mori Art, Tokyo
Screening and online debate between Renzo Martens, Mami Kataoka, Cedart Tamasala, Eleonore Hellio and Hikaru Fujiii.
24 April – National Museum, Kinshasa
Daily screening of White Cube from March 24 until April 24 and a debate on April 24 with Henry Bundjoko, Franklin Mubwabu Mbobe, Pala Kamango, René Ngongo, Cedart Tamasala, Matthieu Kasiama, Mbuku Kimpala and Eléonore Hellio, moderated by Charles Tumba.
12 May – VAC, Moscow
Dialogue between curator Kirill Adibekov, Cedart Tamasala and Renzo Martens.
11 May – Museum MACAN
Online debate with Nurhady Sirimorok and Halim HD moderated by Asri Winata.
15 May – SCCA, Tamale
A debate with Renzo Martens, Ibrahim Mahama and Kari Kacha Seidou.
About White Cube
In White Cube, Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent. They successfully co-opt the concept of the ‘white cube’ to buy back their land from international plantation companies, and secure it for future generations.
From the violence of the plantation system to the aesthetics of the white cube, the film puts forward a proof of concept: museums can become decolonized and inclusive, but only on the condition that the benefits accrued around the museum flow back to the plantation workers whose labor financed – and in some cases continues to finance – the very foundations of these institutions.
White Cube follows the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), a plantation workers’ cooperative based on a former Unilever plantation in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo. The film documents CATPC’s success in ending the destructive system of monoculture on their lands.
“Land or art. If I would have to choose, I would choose both. But if I really have to choose only one, I would choose the land. Where can I put my chair and start making art, if I do not own the land?” Matthieu Kasiama, CATPC.
After a failed solo attempt by artist Renzo Martens to resolve inequality through critical self-reflection, this group of plantation workers employs the privileges associated with the white cube to get back the land that was stolen from them. From the historical foundations in indentured plantation labour of art world giants such as Tate Modern, the Van Abbemuseum and the Ludwig Museum to the gentrifying neighbourhoods around these museums, from the boardrooms of Unilever to the exhausted plantations of Congo, the film sets a new paradigm. White Cube is no longer content with mere scrutiny, it proposes a paradigm shift: practical solutions for an inclusive and egalitarian economy.
White Cube is a film directed by Renzo Martens in collaboration with CATPC.
A trailer of the film is available here.
Still on show in the exhibition ‘Risquons-Tout’ at Wiels, is the acclaimed installation Forced Love, by CATPC member Irene Kanga (b. 1994), which also has a prominent place in the film White Cube. With Wiels having reopened, you have the chance to see the work until March 28.
M HKA, Antwerp
A five minute trailer of the film White Cube is part of the exhibition ‘MONOCULTURE | A recent history’ at M HKA, Antwerp.
28 October 2020
Film White Cube premiered in Lusanga, DR Congo and IDFA, Amsterdam.
Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent: in White Cube, a new feature-length documentary film, they successfully co-opt the concept of the ‘white cube’ to buy back their land from international corporations.
The film premiered in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo and in the international feature film competition at the IDFA film festival in Amsterdam, The Netherlands November 2020, before touring globally.
“Land or art. If I would have to choose, I would choose both. But if I really have to choose only one, I would choose the land. Where can I put my chair and start making art, if I do not own the land?” — Matthieu Kilapi Kasiama, CATPC.
In a time in which the debt held by Western museums whom have been financed by forced labour on confiscated land – the plantation – becomes ever more apparent, this documentary film testifies to an unlikely, new beginning.
White Cube follows the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), a plantation workers’ cooperative based on a former Unilever plantation in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo. The film documents their success in ending the destructive system of monoculture on their lands. CATPC was formed in 2014 together with renowned environmental activist René Ngongo, the founder of Greenpeace Congo. CATPC members make sculptures from river mud; the sculptures are 3D scanned and then reproduced in cocoa and palm oil in Amsterdam (the world’s largest cocoa port) before being exhibited at top galleries and museums worldwide. With the income generated from the sales of their art the workers are able to buy back the land that had been confiscated and taken from them by Unilever. So far they have bought 85 hectares of land, which they are transforming back into rich and diverse, ecological and egalitarian gardens: the post-plantation.
Early triumph came in 2017 with their first solo exhibition in New York’s SculptureCenter, an exhibition that was hailed by the New York Times as the ‘best art of the year’. The same year CATPC inaugurated their own white cube: a OMA-designed museum built on their newly purchased land, which functions to bring capital, visibility and legitimacy to Lusanga. Soon after the premiere of the White Cube film, Lusanga’s White Cube museumwill begin its exhibition program with a solo exhibition by Ghanian artist Ibrahim Mahama.
From the board-rooms of Unilever to the exhausted plantations in Congo; from a failed solo attempt by Dutch artist and filmmaker Renzo Martens to CATPC making the front pages of The New York Times: the film tells an unlikely story. From the profits extracted from plantations to funded museums such as Tate Modern, the Van Abbemuseum or the Ludwig Museum; from the violence of the plantation system to the aesthetics and the civility of the white cube, the film highlights a fundamental question: can museums ever hope to be inclusive when no reparations have yet been paid to the plantation workers who financed – and in some cases continue to finance – the very foundations of these institutions?
White Cube marks a new beginning: how the concept of the white cube – with all the privileges it stands for — can be repurposed by plantation workers as a vehicle to buy back their land and begin a new inclusive and egalitarian world. As CATPC member Mathieu Kasiama said: “We must not stay in one place. We must spread out. We must take back all four corners of The Congo.”
This is a film by Renzo Martens in collaboration with CATPC.
A preview of Renzo Martens’ new film White Cube shown @ MUHKA, Antwerp
A five-minute long preview of the film White Cube, directed by Renzo Martens, is part of the exhibition MONOCULTURE in MUHKA, Antwerp. The film documents the unlikely attempt of a group of plantation workers to buy back their land with the proceeds of their art. The full film will premier later this year.
CATPC member Irene Kanga @WIELS, Brussels
9 September 2020
Eden, Eden, Eden at 50 @the White Cube
Out now: Critique in Practice: Renzo Martens’ Episode III (Enjoy Poverty)
Investigating the economic value of one of DR Congo’s most lucrative exports (namely, poverty), Renzo Martens’ provocative film Episode III: Enjoy Poverty (2008) remains a landmark intervention into debates about contemporary art’s relationship to exploitative economies. Throughout Critique in Practice, contributors explore the work’s legacy and how it relates to the politics of representation, uses of the documentary form, art criticism, the deployment of humanitarian aid, the impact of extractive forms of globalized capital, and the neoliberal politics of decolonization. The unconventional representation of acute immiseration throughout Enjoy Poverty generated far-from-resolved disputes about how deprivation is portrayed within Western mainstream media and throughout global cultural institutions. Using a range of approaches, this volume reconsiders that portrayal and how the film’s reception led Martens to found the long-term program Human Activities.
For the occasion of the publication of the book, the film Enjoy Poverty can be watched free of charge here using the promotion code: CritiqueinPractice. This campaign runs until June 1 2020.
CATPC artists lecture at the 2020 Yale ISTF conference
About the 2020 Yale ISTF conference:
The year 2020 marks the deadline for many international climate change and conservation targets, yet most goals and promises remain unfulfilled … As countries around the world ramp up their pledges to restore tropical ecosystems, we need to re-examine our approach. What is being restored? Why is restoration necessary in the first place? Who will benefit from restoration efforts and who will lose out?
Human Activities improves future sculptures with refined palm oil
CATPC presents work at Statista in Berlin
Sculpture Workshop with Ibrahim Mahama
Image: CATPC members Ced’art Tamasala and Matthieu Kasiama along with visiting musician Kalej plant a tree for Ibrahim down by the Kwenge river.
CATPC at Art Basel
Cedart Tamasala wins Congo’s Art Tembo prize
CATPC’s Vice President and artist Cedart Tamasala has won Congo’s Art Tembo prize in Kinshasa on April 21 2019.
LIRCAEI listed “Best Projects Opening in 2019”
IHA and CATPC’s collaborative center LIRCAEI (Lusanga International Research Center for Art and Economic Inequality) has been listed as “Leading Architects’ Best Pro-Bono Projects Opening in 2019”
Architectural Digest listed the centre as an example of how architects are investing in ventures for sustainability and the greater good. OMA’s architect on the project, David Gianotten, commented:
“The museum aims to encourage the much-needed public debate on contemporary art’s current distributions of power and value chains. OMA supports the centre’s ambitions to produce an artistic critique to the art world and its inequalities, and to facilitate its investigation into strategies of resistance.”
White Cube in Top 10 museums and cultural venues
Designboom placed The OMA-designed White Cube in Lusanga in the Top-10 of groundbreaking museums and cultural centers of 2017. Off to a good start! A full article from Designboom can be found here.