News

CATPC at Oerol festival

Image: CATPC member Irène Kanga with her sculpture ‘Racines’. Cinematography by Jurgen Lisse.

CATPC is taking part in the expedition program at Oerol, a theatre festival on the island of Terschelling, The Netherlands, with their installation ‘Getting to the Root of the Plantation’. Deep in the forest of the island, two sculptures will be on display: Racines (Irène Kanga / CATPC, 2023) and Crucifixion du Bailleur (Matthieu Kasiama & Ced’art Tamasala / CATPC, 2023).

Racines (Roots) shows the harshness of plantation work, both for the laborers and the plants and trees they cultivate. Roots become a metaphor for the connection between the art world and the plantations; roots that CATPC wants to bring from underground to the surface, but also wants to heal. Crucifixion du Bailleur (Crucifixion of the Art Collector) tells the story of an art collector who decides to be crucified to absolve himself of his sins – imposing monoculture agriculture and destroying the land. After his death, he rises again together with the post-plantation, the sacred forest where monoculture agriculture is replaced by biodiversity. Click here for more information about CATPC’s installation at Oerol.

CATPC members, Mbuku Kimpala and Jean Kawata, will be present at the festival from 8-11 June. On the 10th of June at 13.15, Mbuku and Jean will give a talk moderated by Yuki Kho at the Festivalhart de Deining. Click here for more information about CATPC’s talk at Oerol.

You can get tickets for Oerol here.

This program came about in collaboration with CATPC and Human Activities, as part of the White Cube program in the Netherlands. The program aims to decolonize not only the art world, but also the plantations that funded the art world. The program is supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

CATPC member Blaise Mandefu Ayawo passed away

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of CATPC member Blaise Mandefu Ayawo. Blaise was 55 years old. He leaves a wife and five young children.

After installing the exhibition in the Dutch Pavilion, Blaise fell ill during the opening week of the 60th La Biennale di Venezia. After a hospitalization of almost two weeks, Blaise passed away. We are grateful to the staff at Ospedale dell’Angelo for their dedicated care.

Blaise was one of the elders of CATPC. He was a great artist and contributed tremendously to CATPC’s goal to recover the land that was confiscated by Unilever and to reforest it with the means of art. He made the central sculpture that stands both in Lusanga and at the Dutch pavilion in Venice: Mvuyu Libérateur – a bird that cracks wide open white cubes and allows the energy they have historically captured to flow back to the communities that funded museums. In the CATPC performance The Judgement of the White Cube, Blaise performs the lawyer of the White Cube: “The white cube brings people together, the white cube cares.”

The memorable exhibition of CATPC at the Venice Biennale marked the first time that a large delegation of CATPC members travelled from their home base in Lusanga, DR Congo. Blaise will be buried in his hometown.

In his last interview for Congolese radio, Blaise said that Mvuyu Libérateur would open the way. Together with CATPC, we will continue to work for his vision to come true.

Blaise Mandefu Ayawo

9/9/1968 – 29/4/2024

Blaise in Venice, photo: Jurgen Lisse, 2024.

Dutch Pavilion officially opened – Venice Biennale

17 April 2024

Image: Peter Tijhuis, 2024

The Dutch Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia was officially opened on Wednesday 17 April by Barbera Wolfsensberger, Director-General of Culture and Media. The Dutch entry, The International Celebration of Blasphemy and The Sacred, is a presentation by Congolese artist collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC). Created in collaboration with artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi, it highlights CATPC’s endeavour to reclaim the sacred forests of Lusanga, along with their broader mission of spiritual, ethical and economic reckoning.

Preview Dutch Pavilion – Venice Biennale 2024

27 March 2024

The Congolese artist collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) will represent the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale 2024, supported by artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi. In the run-up to the 60th biennale, opening on 20 April, they gave a preview of their joint plan and elaborated on the story behind their choices in De Balie, Amsterdam.

Ancestral sculpture Balot back in Congo

19 March 2024

Film still from ‘The Judgement of the White Cube’, CATPC, 2024, image by Jurgen Lisse

Last week, the sculpture Balot arrived in Lusanga, Congo, from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). On Tuesday 19 March, the artists’ collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) organised a special ceremony to welcome back the sculpture. In anticipation of the Dutch representation at the 60th edition of La Biennale di Venezia, CATPC applied for Balot’s temporary loan. CATPC is collaborating for the Dutch entry with artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi. The sculpture will be on public display at the White Cube in Lusanga from 20 April to 24 November 2024, in parallel with La Biennale di Venezia. At the Dutch pavilion in Venice, Balot will be on view via a live stream.

“We at CATPC are part of a new generation of plantation workers that is seeking, proposing and trying to find sustainable answers to the long-standing questions that are the key to the liberation of plantations. The return of Balot focusses our energy and strengthens our cause. Ultimately, by restoring the balance and correcting past injustices, the return of Balot will allow us to continue to buy back the land that was taken from us by colonial forces, it will enable us to abolish forced and destructive monoculture and to plant, regenerate and nourish back into existence our sacred forests.” – Ced’art Tamasala on behalf of CATPC

Read more about the ceremony here.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) approves temporary loan request by artist collective CATPC

12 February 2024

Image: Chief’s or Diviner’s Figure Representing the Belgian Colonial Officer, Maximilien Balot, circa 1931, Unknown artist (Pende, Democratic Republic of the Congo), wood (possibly Alstonia Boonei) with metal repair staples. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Aldine S. Hartman Endowment Fund, 2015.3. Photo by Travis Fullerton © 2015 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Historic step forwards for artist collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) and Lusanga (DRC), as Virginia Museum of Fine Arts confirms the loan of the sculpture ‘Balot’, a carved wood ancestral power-figure made in 1931. CATPC requested the temporary loan of Balot in anticipation of the exhibition in the 2024 Dutch National participation at the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in collaboration with Dutch artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi. The sculpture is expected to be on display in Lusanga to the public from April 20 to November 24, 2024, parallel to the Biennale di Venezia.

Read more about the temporary loan of the Balot sculpture here.

CATPC and Renzo Martens Dutch Entry for the Venice Biennale 2024

17 April 2023

Image, from left to right: Ced’art Tamasala (CATPC), Matthieu Kasiama (CATPC), Renzo Martens, Hicham Khalidi, Mbuku Kimpala (CATPC). Photo: Koos Breukel, 2023

Renzo Martens, Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) and curator Hicham Khalidi will be providing the Dutch entry for the Venice Biennale 2024. The joint plan will be open to the public from 20 April 2024 at the Rietveld Pavilion in Venice and simultaneously at the White Cube in Lusanga, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This Dutch entry will therefore consist of two presentations that are directly mirrored and connected.

For the first time in the history of the Venice Biennale and of the Rietveld Pavilion, a community that lives and works on one of the plantations that funded and continues to fund the art world, will represent itself.

“Our contribution to collective memory, by way of an exhibition in the Dutch pavilion exhibition will be a wonderful opportunity to restitute to humanity the fruits of our research in the history of white cubes, which are intimately and often shamefully linked to the plantations, something of which nobody speaks.

Meaningful and sincere reflections will be produced from these realities – plantations and art institutions – coming together. Questions of care, repair, healing, and restitution become unavoidable, as no white cube can claim to decolonize as long as the communities on the plantations are not also able to decolonize themselves.”

– Ced’art Tamasala, on behalf of CATPC

View the announcement on Mondriaan Fund’s website here. More information will follow soon.

Into the Great Wide Open

31 August – 3 September 2023

Several works by CATPC and Renzo Martens will be on view as part of Into the Great Wide Open’s festival art program.

The installation Why Plantations Matter will be spread out over the forest of Vlieland and in the Tromp’s Huys museum. In the forest, you will find Athanas Kindendie / CATPC’s Plantation Monoculture – a sculpture which criticizes the monoculture of palm plantations that took a century-long grip on the land and completely depleted it – and the Balot NFT. In the museum, the series Plantations and Museums will be on view.

There will also be an artist talk with Renzo Martens on the 1st of September, from 10.30 onwards, and two screenings of White Cube on the 2nd of September, 16:00-17:20, and the 3rd, 12:00-13:20.

Find out more on Into the Great Wide Open’s website.

This program came about in collaboration with CATPC and Human Activities, as part of the White Cube program in the Netherlands. The program aims to decolonize not only the art world, but also the plantations that funded the art world. The program is supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

Current Vacancies at Human Activities

1 September 2023

We are looking for:

Medewerker Financiën, Subsidies en Bureau (filled)

Intern Projects and Exhibitions (filled)

Intern Online Communication

NRC Op-ed by Renzo Martens

7 June 2023

Image: Screenshot of Renzo Martens’ publication on NRC, including “On the loose” by Jan Dibbets (1969), photo: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 

On 7 June 2023, Renzo Martens’ article about the connection between plantation workers and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam was published. In the publication, Martens begins by presenting the work of Dutch artist Jan Dibbets who, in 1969, dug out the four corners of the Stedelijk Museum to expose its foundations and question the existence of the museum. Fifty years later, while still speculating on the unrestrained continuation of plantation labor, the Stedelijk has not yet given credit to the plantation workers who contributed to the construction of the museum. Martens writes:

“The truth is that plantation workers are the co-authors of every single wall, every beam of light and every line of perspective.”

Read the full article on NRC.nl

CATPC Walk & Talk at the Oude Kerk

19 March 2023


Image: Ced’art Tamasala and Matthieu Kasiama (CATPC) installing Ibrahim Mahama’s “Judgment of the White Cube” solo show at the White Cube in Lusanga, photo: Dareck Tuba, 2022

Join the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League CATPC as they reflect upon last year’s Ibrahim Mahama show Judgment of the White Cube at their museum in the middle of a plantation, the White Cube Lusanga, from the site of Mahama’s latest exhibition Garden of Scars at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam.

Walking through Garden of Scars, CATPC members Matthieu Kasiama, Mbuku Kimpala and Ced’art Tamasala will discuss their long-standing collaboration with Mahama in connection to their own artistic practice. They will also announce the White Cube’s upcoming program, which aims to decolonize not only the art world but also the plantations that have historically funded the art world. The public is invited to participate in thinking about how museums can contribute to decolonization and how art can be regenerative.

This event is the first of the White Cube’s program in the Netherlands. Opening up the dialogue on decolonization between CATPC and Dutch institutions, many of which were funded with profits extracted from plantations, the program focuses on creating equal knowledge exchanges and decolonizing the place where it is needed most: the plantation.

Get tickets here. More information on the upcoming White Cube program will be released soon.