© 2020 Max Pinckers


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. In 2012, Martens established Human Activities and its Gentrification Programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Together with Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), a cooperative formed by plantation workers, he uses artistic critique to redress economic inequality—not symbolically, but in material terms. Consequently, they opened White Cube, an OMA-designed museum on a former Unilever plantation in Lusanga (2017).

Martens’ new feature-length documentary, White Cube (2020), shows how Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent; they successfully co-opt the concept of the ‘white cube’ to buy back their land from international corporations. The film premiered in Lusanga where it was screened onto the white walls of the museum, and at the IDFA film festival in Amsterdam in November 2020.

Between March¬–April 2021, 15 international art institutions are collaborating to host a global launch of the film. 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.

Martens studied Political Science at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands (1992), and earned an MA from Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam (1996). He is currently completing a PhD in the Arts from Ghent University, Belgium.

Born in 1973 in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, Martens currently lives and works between Amsterdam and Lusanga.

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

Related Content

Martens, Renzo

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 watch the film screening, click here.

To register for- the online discussion, click here.