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White Cube

Directed by Renzo Martens
79 minutes
All Ages
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Artist Renzo Martens's plans to build an arts centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo expose controversial, longstanding issues in the world of art and capitalism.
When Martens was invited to screen his 2008 film, Enjoy Poverty, at the Tate Modern, he noticed Unilever was one of the gallery's sponsors. Long interested in the relationship between art and capitalism, Martens's research revealed the company's former ties to palm oil production in the Belgian Congo. Motivated, he heads to the region to discuss with plantation managers and labourers how art can assist with development. It doesn't go well, and Martens is ruefully forced to depart. Re-energised, he returns with plans to encourage disfranchised workers to create sculptures. Martens's goal is to sell their work overseas so they can buy back their confiscated, now soil-depleted land and change their future. A fascinating exploration of the ties between capitalism, colonialism and the art world.
The film has a heartfelt quality, and one can feel the sincerity with which Martens sets out to tie together the seemingly overly distant ends of these different worlds. It all seems to fit, in a way, and when the new artists’ work gives us a glimpse of their inner worlds, the stories of exploitation become more tangible.
Chris Frieswijk, Cineuropa
People on plantations are desperately poor, and they work for the global community,’ Martens said in a recent interview in Amsterdam. ‘They even work, indirectly, for exhibitions in the Tate Modern. Art is sterile if it proclaims to be about inequality but doesn’t bring benefits to those people.’
The New York Times

Films showing at this event:

Homo Suburbiensis (mixtape)
Artist Shaun Gladwell uses voice over and cinematic framing to present a pseudo-scientific observation of ordinary, everyday actions.


Fri 5 Nov
Dendy Newtown 3
Past Event Cancel
Sat 13 Nov
Dendy Newtown 2
Past Event Cancel
Program Strand
International Documentaries
All Ages
Netherlands, Democratic Republic of Congo, Belgium
In English, Lingala and French with English subtitles
Renzo Martens
Pieter van Huijstee
Boaz van der Spek, Eric Vander Borght, Jos de Putter, Jan de Coster
Documentary, Africa, Arts, Environmental, Human Rights, Off-Beat
Company Credits
Sales Agent: Pieter van Huijstee Film & TV
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