Venice Biennale

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

In memoriam

Blaise Mandefu Ayawo

9/9/1968, Kikwit (DRC) – 29/4/2024, Venice (Italy)

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of Blaise Mandefu Ayawo, leading member of the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) collective.

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Exhibition dates: 20 April 2024 – 24 November 2024
Opening hours: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Closed on Mondays (except 22 April, 17 June, 22 July, 2 and 30 September, 18 November)

Location: Rietveld Pavilion, Giardini di Venezia, Venice & White Cube, Lusanga, DRC

‘The International Celebration of Blasphemy and the Sacred’ is a presentation by Congolese artist collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) for the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Created in collaboration with artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi, it highlights CATPC’s endeavour to reclaim exhausted plantation lands and to restore the Sacred Forest, along with their broader mission of spiritual, ethical and economic reckoning. The exhibition will be on display from 20 April 2024 to 24 November 2024 at the Rietveld Pavilion in Venice (IT) and simultaneously at 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.

Exhibition video

The exhibition

For both the Venice and Lusanga exhibitions CATPC created new artworks from the earth of the last remaining patches of forest surrounding the plantation which subsequently were casted 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). This request was approved by the VMFA. On 19 March 2024 Balot was welcomed in Lusanga by CATPC and their community. CATPC believes in restoring balance and correcting past injustices once the sculpture is returned. The sculpture is exhibited in the White Cube in Lusanga from 20 April to 24 November 2024, in parallel with La Biennale di Venezia. For more information, see 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. Now that the ancestral sculpture Balot is returned to the plantation – even temporarily – their movement is greatly strengthened.

The Judgement of the White Cube
In CATPC’s latest, as formerly 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.’


The exhibition is also accompanied by a publication. The catalogue The International Celebration of Blasphemy and the Sacred  (in both English and French) includes a main text written by curator Hicham Khalidi and a series of letters written by Ced’art Tamasala on behalf of CATPC. Khalidi wrote his text in close collaboration with writer Amanda Sarroff, CATPC and Renzo Martens and draws on interviews with renowned authors and curators such as Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, Ruba Katrib and Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba. The publication also includes an introduction by Mondriaan Fund director Eelco van der Lingen and contains extensive visual documentation of both the sculptures and video works in the Dutch pavilion in Venice as well as the sculptures in Lusanga. The catalogue is available for € 29,95 at Jap Sam Books.

For more information on the exhibition, watch the livestream of the preview at De Balie on Wednesday 27 March below.

Preview Dutch Pavilion Venice

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

Questions about the Venice Biennale? Please contact us.

Anniek Vrij

project manager activities Send a message Or call +31 (0)20 5231533

Klaartje Wouters

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