A key sculpture portrayed in the film White Cube is the piece Forced Love by CATPC member Irene Kanga (b. 1994). The sculpture is part of the exhibition ‘Risquons-Tout’ at WIELS, Brussels.
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 will premiere 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 will premiere in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo and in the international feature film competition at the IDFA film festival in Amsterdam, The Netherlands this November, 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.