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WHITE CUBE

Renzo Martens / Netherlands, Belgium, Democratic Republic of Congo / 2020 / 79 min / International Premiere
A provocative battle against colonialism in the worlds of art and capitalism, as a group of Congolese farmers reclaim power.

In a creative collaboration with local farmers, Dutch artist Renzo Martens launches a project that aims to break the ties of (neo-)colonialism in Congo. He wants to build a gallery that can short-circuit the flow of money out of the country. Martens is not the first white man who arrives in Congo with a grand plan, nor is he trying to hide this fact in this almost 10-year-long project. His provocative strategy is to play the game of capitalism (and the art world), just the opposite way round, and with the local farmers as the winners. But it is not just about money. Independence, dignity and power over one’s own self-image are also at stake in a film that dares to deal with contradictions, and which does so with confidence in the viewer’s own critical judgement. When the artist Matthieu Kasiama travels with Martens to New York on behalf of the entire group to exhibit and sell their works, there is no doubt: art can actually lead to change, even in a neoliberal world order, where everything is a product. ‘White Cube’ is itself a work in the field between documentary filmmaking and contemporary art and an intervention all the way into the heart of the cultural institutions that have never fully cut their ties to colonialism.