White Cube (2020)

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


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’ as a way 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) with renowned environmental activist René Ngongo, the founder of Greenpeace Congo, in an effort that leads to exhibitions of their artworks at international institutions. In some cases, the institutions had been financed by the very multinational corporations responsible for the past exploitation of the plantation workers and the destructive monoculture that depleted their land. 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 are now transforming it back into rich and diverse, ecological and egalitarian gardens: the post-plantation. Directed by Renzo Martens in collaboration with CATPC, the film is a powerful and provocative dissection of art, class and decolonisation.

Between March 24–April 24, White Cube is being launched at more than 15 international institutions in a four-week event during which the film will be projected daily onto the walls of the White Cube built by the workers on their land in Lusanga. Participating institutions include National Museum (Kinshasa); Sharjah Art Foundation, The Africa Institute (Sharjah); KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin); SCCA (Tamale); African Artists’ Foundation (Lagos); V-A-C (Moscow); Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven); Wiels (Brussels); ICA (London); Mori Art Museum (Tokyo); Picha (Lubumbashi); MPavilion (Melbourne); Museum MACAN (Jakarta); and White Cube, Lusanga.

White Cube (2020) Online Film Screening

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. The online event will take place on 17 April 2021 and is free to attend.

The film will be available to stream for free at the bottom of this webpage on 17 April April 2021 at 8:00 pm Gulf Standard Time (GST), followed by a discussion at 9:30 pm GST. The film can also be streamed on demand from 17 to 24 April for a fee of USD 5 on this page. The proceeds from the VOD are returned to CAPTC who will use the funds to buy back more land.

A trailer of the film is available here.

White Cube Online Discussion and Registration

Following the free screening on 17 April 2021, there will be a discussion that addresses some of the key issues and implications of the project and film. The speakers include Renzo Martens, director of White Cube (2020) and Artistic Director of the Institute for Human Activities; Ced’art Tamasala, artist and member of the Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) and Surafel Wondimu, Okwui Enwezor Postdoctoral Fellow in Visual Culture, Performance Studies and Critical Humanities at The Africa Institute, who will also moderate this discussion.

The discussion will take place via Zoom. Attendees can register for the film and talk via this Zoom link. The discussion will be held in English and French and simultaneous translation into Arabic and English will be provided. The discussion will also be recorded and published on this page afterwards.

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

About The Africa Institute

The Africa Institute is an interdisciplinary academic research institute dedicated to the study, research and documentation of Africa, its people and its cultures, its complex past, present and future, and its manifold connections with the wider world. Conceived as a research-based think tank, and a postgraduate studies institution (offering both Masters and PhD programmes, and Diplomas in African languages), the Institute aims to train a new generation of critical thinkers in African and African diaspora studies.

White Cube (2020)

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

White Cube (2020)

White Cube (2020) documents the successful attempt by Congolese plantation workers to co-opt the ‘white cube’ to buy back their land and secure it for future generations.

Book your tickets here.

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

Tamasala, Ced’art

Ced’art Tamasala is an artist who works with sculpture and drawing. He is also a member of the cooperative Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) in Lusanga (2016–present).

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

Martens, Renzo

Renzo Martens is an artist and filmmaker who gained international recognition with the films Episode I (2003) and Episode III: Enjoy Poverty (2009), especially the latter which was televised in more than 23 countries.

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

Abebe, Surafel

Surafel Wondimu Abebe uses academia, performance and media as sites of cultural politics from which to interrogate representational practices.