News

CATPC buys 50 hectares with Balot NFT

25 November 2022

Image: Balot NFT overview of 50 NFT sales that go towards the development of the Post-Plantation

CATPC has publicly called back the powers of the Balot sculpture by minting it as an NFT. On June 14 at Art Basel, the first batch in a collection of 306 individual Balot NFTs went on the market. Each purchase unleashes the powers of the sculpture and makes it work for the community: with 50 NFTs already sold, CATPC can buy back 50 hectares of land for their Post-Plantation, replanting the forest and reintroducing biodiversity in one of most impoverished areas of the world, resulting in offsetting carbon emissions and providing autonomy and food security for plantation workers.

For more info, visit balot.org

Sandra den Hamer joins the Board of Human Activities

1 November 2022

Image: courtesy of EYE Filmmuseum

We are very pleased to announce that Sandra den Hamer will join the board of Human Activities.

For the past 15 years, Den Hamer was the director of the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, a museum at the forefront of film conservation and the presentation of film as an art form. From 1996 to 2007, Den Hamer was the director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and before that, she led the CineMart and Hubert Bals Fund at IFFR. In 2015, she received the Gouden Kalf for Film Culture, a prize dedicated to individuals or organizations who have made a special contribution to Dutch film culture.

Derk Sauer, Chair of the Board:

“With her wealth of experience in the film and museum world, Sandra will make an invaluable contribution to Human Activities’ mission to prove that art that critiques inequality can resolve this inequality in real, material terms. Her expertise will be especially meaningful in the upcoming White Cube museum program that will make sure that communities on the plantations who have financed the art world, can also decolonize.”

In addition to Sandra den Hamer, the Board of Human Activities consists of Chairman Derk Sauer, Treasurer Anton Kramer and members Azu Nwagbogu, Delya Allakhverdova and Gert Jan Van Den Bergh.

Dig Where You Stand at SCCA Tamale in Ghana

2 September – 9 October 2022

Image: courtesy of African Artists’ Foundation

Dig Where You Stand is a series of traveling exhibitions from coast to coast offering a paradigm shift by introducing a new methodology of engaging with capital both in the art world and the broader economy on the African continent. The first iteration opened on 2 September at SCCA Tamale in the presence of CATPC members Matthieu Kasiama and Ced’art Tamasala.

Dig Where You Stand is curated by Azu Nwagbogu and presented by African Artists’ Foundation in collaboration with the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA Tamale), the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) and Mondriaan Fonds. The exhibition envisions the strategies of liberation from the ongoing extractive processes of economy in and outside the art world. The exhibition not only brings together examples of regenerative artistic practices but also acts as a regenerative agent in itself –in each location leaving behind a toolkit for jumpstarting regenerative economic processes.

The White Cube in The New Yorker

18 July 2022

“The process, with its dreamlike logic, has transformed life in Lusanga.”

Read the full article here.

Two New Vacancies

Project Manager / Assistant Curator
Intern Landscape Restoration / Ecological Agriculture

Balot NFTs On Sale from June 14


Image: Balot NFT 084, CATPC, 2022

CATPC mobilizes the magic of the NFT to reclaim the powers of a long-lost sculpture and buy back land. The Balot NFT reclaims the powers of a sculpture held by a major US museum to reintroduce sustainability and cultural life on a plantation in Congo. This radical new model turns the NFT into a tool for decolonization.

After minting the first NFT last February, CATPC now enters the next stage of digital restitution. On June 14 at Art Basel, the first batch in a collection of 306 individual Balot NFTs will go on the market. Each purchase unleashes the powers of the sculpture and makes it work for the community: NFT sales will directly buy back land, replant the forest and reintroduce biodiversity in one of most impoverished areas of the world, resulting in offsetting carbon emissions and providing autonomy and food security for plantation workers.

CATPC members Matthieu Kasiama and Ced’art Tamasala will give presentations about the Balot NFT at Art Basel and Bundeskunsthalle this June, please visit our lectures page to learn more.

Find out more about the NFTs and how to buy them at balot.org.


Image: Overview of all 306 Balot NFTs, CATPC, 2022

Open February 25 – April 17, 2022: Solo show Ibrahim Mahama

Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama has long striven to bring together seemingly distinct value chains, from commodity extraction from the continent, to value creation within the art world. In Lusanga he will use his signature jute cocoa bags to cover the White Cube as well as a number of palm trees. This will be Mahama’s first institutional solo show in Central Africa.

Launch of CATPC’s autonomous education program / Cercle éducatif autonome de Luyalu


Image: launch of CATPC autonomous educational program, photo by Ephraim Baku, 2022

On February 25, CATPC launches a long-term educational program for the decolonization of the plantation. The program will be co-initiated by Selom Kudjie (director of Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art, Tamale, Ghana) and artist Ibrahim Mahama. It is based on deep thought: muzindu and composition: kukungika, for children and adults.

February 2022

A radical new model turns the NFT into a tool for decolonization

The minting of the Balot NFT took place online, at White Cube Lusanga, and at KOW Berlin, on February 11, 17:00 CET, 2022. You can watch a video of the presentation here.

CATPC mobilizes the magic of the NFT to reclaim the powers of a long-lost sculpture and buy back their land

For decades – if not centuries – people on plantations in Congo and elsewhere have been deprived of their culture and forced into unpaid labor, supporting wealth and art in the global north. In one of the first global instances of digital restitution, The Congolese Plantation Workers Art League (CATPC) claims their heritage using the powers of NFTs (Non-Fungible Token). The Balot NFT, minted on February 11th 2022, will put digital ownership of culture back into the hands of the many and helps buy back land once stolen and exhausted, reintroducing sustainable ways of governance, land use, and community-building. In a radical new model of restitution, blockchain-based NFT technology becomes a tool for decolonization.


Image: Cedart Tamasala drawing Balot in the White Cube, still from Plantations and Museums. Human Activities, 2021

The Balot sculpture was carved in 1931, during a Pende uprising against rape and other atrocities carried out by the Unilever plantation system and Belgian colonial agents. The sculpture depicts the angry spirit of beheaded Belgian officer Maximilien Balot, and was carved to control Balot’s spirit and make him work for the Pende people. Today, the sculpture is held in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond. Loan requests by CATPC have thus far been futile.

With the Balot NFT, the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League uses blockchain technology to claim back what is theirs: not just art, but land. The sculpture will later be atomized in a limited number of original NFTs for sale. Buyers get a digital rendering of the sculpture, based on photographic reproduction from the VMFA’s website. Every purchase helps to ultimately unleash the powers of the sculpture and make it work for the community: sales directly buy back land, replant the forest and reintroduce biodiversity, resulting in offsetting carbon emissions and providing autonomy and food security for plantation workers in one of most impoverished areas of the world.

About the NFT
On February 11th, CATPC publicly called back the powers of the Balot sculpture by minting it as NFT. Later this year, a collection of 300 individual Balot NFTs will go on the market. The funds will be used to buy back land. Meanwhile, each Balot will live on the blockchain while royalties from resales will go into replanting forests, reintroducing biodiversity, offsetting carbon emissions and providing local food security.

What’s at stake
Despite loaning the statue to institutions such as the Rietberg Museum in Zurich, Switzerland for an exhibition titled Congo Fiction, the VMFA has as of yet not answered favourably to the loan requests made by CATPC to exhibit it in the White Cube, the museum that CATPC has built on the Unilever plantation.

CATPC intends to use the window of opportunity that is offered by NFT digital ownership to claim lost art and restitute its functions: by using NFTs the powers of these objects can be reclaimed, even if the physical art is held by unwilling museums. However, this window is limited: museums in the global north are already minting digital copies of key works in their collection and selling them as NFTs, creating a new profitable existence of these age-old artworks, while keeping the originals in their collections. Impoverishment on the plantations is rampant: it is now essential that local communities make use of this technology and control the powers of their lost art, rather than the institutions that were built on the exploitation of their labour and culture.

The minting is part of the exhibition BALOT at KOW, where in addition to the NFT, the video installation Plantations and Museums will also be exhibited.

Plantations and Museums
Six short videos Plantations and Museums have been made to explain the background of the Balot NFT. In this documentary series, CATPC members Matthieu Kasiama and Cedart Tamasala travel to the battleground of the Pende rebellion and to the museum that holds the sculpture in the United States. They interview key experts on the Balot sculpture and postcolonial discourse, such as Ariella Aïsha Azoulay (Brown University) and Simon Gikandi (Princeton University).

You can find the video series here.

For the full press release, click here.