Renzo Martens disturbed viewers with videos such as Enjoy Poverty in which he centered himself as a white man and propagated the self-gentrification of Congolese plantation. Meanwhile, however, his role as a performer as well as the relationship to the protagonists of his work has fundamentally changed: A Western artist that purposefully positioned himself as a beneficiary of murderous and exploitative policies now works on restituting the means of production to the very plantations that have funded European and American white cubes.
Part of Episode XXII: “Provoke Me if You Can. The Crisis of Artistic Disturbances”
With Núria Güell, Renzo Martens & Florian Malzacher
8. February 2023 – Playground Munich
Renzo Martens (1973) studied political science and art. After having made the films Episode I, and Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, Martens established Human Activities and its “reverse gentrification program” on a plantation in the DR Congo. Together with the plantation workers of Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), he employs artistic critique to build a new world — not symbolically, but in material terms. Together, they opened a White Cube that is meant to repatriate capital and visibility to communities of plantation workers. White Cube, Martens’ latest film, shows how Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent: they successfully co-opt the concept of the ‘white cube’ to liberate their land and turn it into forests.