CATPC members (from left) Olele Mulela Mabamba, Huguette Kilembi, Mbuku Kimpala, Jeremie Mabiala, Jean Kawata, Irene Kanga, Ced’art Tamasala and Matthieu Kasiama (still from White Cube, Renzo Martens).
AAF noted that the documentary film White Cube, shows how Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent in successfully articulating the concept of the ‘white cube’ to buy back their land from international corporations. The film premiered in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was screened onto the white walls of the museum, and at the IDFA film festival in Amsterdam, in November 2020, before touring globally.
In a timely interrogation of one of the most pressing contemporary issues of the arts in our time, White Cube explores art as a tool for restitution in surprisingly experimental ways. It is a shocking and intimate look at some of the ugliest details of the art ecosystem, and a call to action for stakeholders at every level, to engage and disrupt systems of oppression.
From the boardrooms of Unilever to the exhausted plantations in DR Congo, the film tells an unlikely story. From the profits extracted from plantations to funded museums, from the violence of the plantation system to the aesthetics and 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 whose labor finances these very institutions?
“Land or art. If I would have to choose... 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.
The screening is to be followed immediately by a panel discussion featuring Artist and Director, Renzo Martens; Art & Culture Historian, Dr. Oluwatoyin Sogbesan; and AAF Director and Curator, Azu Nwagbogu . The physical event can be attended by registration only, and the film is available for rent on-demand on vimeo.
Director: Renzo Martens Duration: 79 min colour Spoken languages: Lingala, French, English Production: Pieter van Huystee Film in coproduction with Inti Films and Human Activities Cinematography: Renzo Martens, Dareck Tuba, Hans Bou- ma, Maarten Kramer, Daan Wallis, Remco Bikkers, Louise van Assche, Eric Vander Borght, Jean Counet, Deschamps Matala, Lisa Perez, Boaz van der Spek
Editing: Boaz van der Spek, Eric Vander Borght, Jos de Putter, Jan de Coster Second Unit Director: Eric Vander Borght Sound: Papy Bambole-Kandole, Dareck Tuba, Philippe Benoit
Sound Design: Ranko Paukovic Screenplay: Renzo Martens Narrators: Renzo Martens, Irene Kanga, Matthieu Kasiama, Rene Ngongo
Renzo Martens studied political science and art. He gained international recognition with the films Episode I, and Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, which was televised in more than 23 countries. In 2012, Martens established the Institute for Human Activities and its gentri- fication program in DR Congo. Together with the plantation workers of Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), he uses artistic critique to redress economic inequality. Not symbolically, but in material terms. Consequently, they opened an OMA-de- signed White Cube on a former Unilever plantation in 2017. The work of the CATPC has been shown in a solo exhibition in SculptureCenter New York, Mori Art in Tokyo, KW Berlin and in the 21st Biennale of Sydney.
Oluwatoyin Sogbesan obtained her master’s degree in Architecture from Obafemi Awolowo University, MA in Arts and Heritage Management from London Metropolitan University, and her Ph.D. in Culture, policy, and management from City University London. She won the worshipful company of saddlers award for the 3MT competition in 2014. She is enthusi- astic about museum representation, interpretation, and inclusion. She specializes in cultural interpretation, representation, and dissemination through various mediums such as built environment, artifacts, and art. Her current research is on documentation and preservation of cultural heritage in Oyo town, Nigeria. She is presently affiliated with Ajayi Crowther University, where she teaches History of Architecture with specific focus on traditional architectural technology, systems, and materials.
Azu Nwagbogu is the Founder and Director of African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), a Lagos-based non- profit organisation, and serves as Founder and Director of LagosPhoto Festival, an annual international festival of photography held in Lagos. He was elected as the Interim Director/ Head Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in South Africa from June 2018 to August 2019. He is the creator of Art Base Africa, a virtual space to discover and learn about contemporary African Art. Nwagbogu served as a juror for the Dutch Doc, POPCAP Photography Awards, the World press Photo, Prisma Photography Award, Greenpeace Photo Award, New York Times Portfolio Review, W. Eugene Smith Award, Photo Espana, Foam Paul Huf Award, Wellcome photography prize and is a regular juror for organisations such as Lensculture and Magnum among others. For the past 20 years, he has curated private collections for various prominent individuals and corporate organisations in Africa. Nwagbogu obtained a Masters in Public Health from The University of Cambridge. He lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.
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