White Cube (2020)

Renzo Martens
White Cube (still)
2020
Digital video, colour, sound
79 minutes
Image courtesy of Renzo Martens
Copyright © Human Activities, 2020

Overview

White Cube (2020) is a feature-length film that documents the successful attempt by Congolese workers on a former Unilever palm oil plantation to co-opt the ‘white cube’ to buy back their land and secure it for future generations.

The film follows the workers as they form the cooperative Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) in 2014 with renowned environmental activist René Ngongo, the founder of Greenpeace Congo. CATPC members make sculptures from river mud, which are later 3D scanned and reproduced in cocoa and palm oil in Amsterdam—the world’s largest cocoa port—before being exhibited at top galleries and museums around the world. 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, and transform it into rich and diverse, ecological and egalitarian gardens: the post-plantation.

Early success came in 2017 with CATPC’s first solo presentation 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: an OMA/David Gianotten designed museum, built on their newly purchased land, which functions to bring capital, visibility and legitimacy to Lusanga.

Now the 2020 film 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. Directed by Renzo Martens in collaboration with CATPC, the film is a powerful and provocative dissection of art, class and decolonisation.

Screening Information

White Cube (2020)
Director: Renzo Martens
The Netherlands, Belgium
Documentary | 79 minutes
English, French, Lingala with English and Arabic subtitles

Presented by Sharjah Art Foundation and The Africa Institute, this film is part of the Global Museum Launch of White Cube.

The film will be available to stream here on demand from 17 to 24 April for a fee of USD 5. The proceeds from the VOD are returned to CAPTC who will use the funds to buy back more land in Lusanga.

White Cube (2020)

Related Content

White Cube (2020)

White Cube (2020) Global Museum Launch Middle East Premiere and Discussion

White Cube (2020) is a feature-length film that documents the successful attempt by Congolese plantation workers to co-opt the ‘white cube’ and buy back their land to secure it for future generations. Sharjah Art Foundation and The Africa Institute will host the Global Museum Launch Middle East Premiere of White Cube followed by a discussion about the project’s implications.

To register for the event and the online discussion, click here.

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