Venice Biennale

Artists' collective Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) together with artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi, will be providing the Dutch entry for the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2024.

Press view days: 17 April 2024 – 19 April 2024
Exhibition dates: 20 April 2024 – 24 November 2024
Location: Rietveld Pavilion, Giardini di Venezia, Venice & White Cube, Lusanga, DRC

CATPC– in collaboration with artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi – will present new artworks as part of their ongoing commitment for the plantation of Lusanga to be freed, regenerated and transformed back into sacred forests, as well as their commitment to a greater project of spiritual, ethical and economic reckoning. The exhibition will be on display from 20 April 2024 until 24 November 2024 at the Rietveld Pavilion in Venice and simultaneously in the White Cube in Lusanga (DRC).

By twinning the White Cube – the previously established museum by Martens and CATPC – in Lusanga with the Rietveld Pavilion in Venice a level playing field has been created by and for CATPC: this is what they see as their next step. Read more about the exhibition below.

Ced’art Tamasala on behalf of CATPC:

‘We’re looking forward to telling our story in Venice 2024. The opportunity to now pair a white cube on a plantation with one at the summit of the art world allows for a direct look into these two worlds and into the inequalities between them. Meaningful and sincere reflections will be produced from these different, but related, realities coming together. Through this presentation, we will come to the final stage of our collective journey into truths that deserve to be shared.’

Eelco van der Lingen, director of the Mondriaan Fund and commissioner:

We are delighted that this presentation will soon be exhibited in both Venice and Lusanga on behalf of the Netherlands. It will allow everyone to witness the next step of CATPC and Martens’ work. The issue of colonial relations, which also affects Martens’ work, is indisputable. Together with CATPC members, Khalidi and Martens will explore how we, without denying this issue, can work towards a better understanding and a new future. Restitution will be a major theme of the presentation. This is a topical issue within the global heritage sector and within a broader debate about coloniality. It is essential to have a conversation about this and I am happy that we can contribute to it on a big stage.

White Cube sculpture by CATPC. ©Koos Breukel_2023

The exhibition

For both the Venice and Lusanga exhibitions CATPC will create new artworks from the earth of the last remaining patches of forest surrounding the plantation which will subsequently be cast in the raw materials extracted from the plantation. Ced’art Tamasala, on behalf of CATPC: ‘Each sculpture carries the seed that will bring back the sacred forest. Ultimately functioning as conduits, these sculptures will allow for a shared equitable future for all humans, making it possible for us to reclaim our stolen lands, to reforest them and to welcome the post-plantation and sacred forest.’

Diviner’s Figure representing Belgian Colonial Officer, Maximilien Balot, 1931
An important part of the exhibition is the temporary return of Balot, a sculpture held sacred to their community originally made to protect them against the plantation regime. In anticipation of the simultaneous exhibition in Venice and Lusanga, CATPC submitted a loan request to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). CATPC believes in restoring balance and correcting past injustices once the sculpture has been returned. The sculpture is expected to be exhibited in Lusanga from 20 April to 24 November 2024, in parallel with La Biennale di Venezia. Download the press release below.

According to CATPC it must be noted that many western museums have been constructed and financed with profits extracted from plantations. They believe that now is the time for museums and art institutes throughout the western world to support reconciliation and actively engage with indigenous communities as they reclaim their land and restore and reconnect to their sacred forests. If the ancestral sculpture named Balot is returned to the plantation – even temporarily – their movement will be greatly strengthened.

The Judgement of the White Cube
In CATPC’s latest, as yet unreleased performance film The Judgement of the White Cube, the White Cube – all white cubes- is taken hostage and judged. As it stands trial before the community, the white cube is sentenced to ask for forgiveness and to bring back the ancestral sculpture of Balot.

Ced’art Tamasala: ‘We aim for a scenario in which the sweat and fruits of plantation labour are transformed from impure stains into tools for repair. The process of exhibiting and expressing our ideas in these fruits that we have produced, enables us –CATPC– to buy back confiscated land, to regenerate the sacred forest and to allow for a peaceful coexistence between humans and nature.’

F.l.t.r. Ced’art Tamasala, Matthieu Kasiama Kilapi, Renzo Martens, Hicham Khalidi, Lisette Mbuku Kimpala. ©Koos Breukel, 2023

Commissioner: Mondriaan Fund
Artistic team: Renzo Martens (artist / initiator), Hicham Khalidi (curator)
Artists: Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) includes the artists Djonga Bismar, Alphonse Bukumba, Irène Kanga, Muyaka Kapasa, Matthieu Kasiama, Jean Kawata, Huguette Kilembi, Mbuku Kimpala, Athanas Kindendi, Anti Leba, Charles Leba, Philomène Lembusa, Richard Leta, Jérémie Mabiala, Plamedi Makongote, Blaise Mandefu, Daniel Manenga, Mira Meya, Emery Muhamba, Tantine Mukundu, Olele Mulela, Daniel Muvunzi, Alvers Tamasala, Ced’art Tamasala. CATPC is presided by René Ngongo.

Questions & contact

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Anniek Vrij

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Esther Schussler