Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) with Baloji and Renzo Martens
CATPC Founded 2014 Live and work in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo
Baloji Born 1978 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo Lives and works in Ghent, Belgium
Renzo Martens Born 1973 in Sluiskil, The Netherlands Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Brussels, Belgium; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) is a cooperative that develops new economic initiatives through participating in the global art market, profitably producing and selling critically engaged art. Founded near Lusanga in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2014, the CATPC is well known for their remarkable sculptures, characterful figures first produced in clay before being cast in chocolate. Manufactured in Amsterdam, the world’s largest port for cocoa, the sculptures are a physical manifestation of the exploitation of labour and trade relations.
The CATPC uses profits from sales of these artworks to generate income and buy back land, where experimental, community-owned cocoa and palm oil gardens are established, based on the most advanced agroforestry techniques. By engaging in the capitalist economy in this way, CATPC reclaims the oppressive cycle of the production and consumption of goods. More recently, the cooperative has started to make films, drawings and performative works.
Dutch artist and filmmaker Renzo Martens founded the Institute for Human Activities (IHA) in 2014, a research project that seeks to artistically critique income inequality. The organisation often works collaboratively with CATPC, who together established the Lusanga International Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality (LIRCAEI), a place for critical thought and dialogue surrounding economic disparity and labour relations.
Baloji, a Belgian-Congolese poet, musician and filmmaker, participated in a residency at LIRCAEI, and created CATPC – the artists from the plantation. A portrait by Baloji. Charting an allegorical story representative of the fraught relationship between art institutions and the plantation system, the video portrays CATPC members within this complex and mutually dependant exchange. Incorporating sculptures originally made in clay and reproduced in chocolate sourced from African plantations and works donated to CATPC’s collection by artists Luc Tuymans and Carsten Holler, CATPC – the artists from the plantation. A portrait by Baloji reimagines the future of Lusanga as a new, ecological and worker owned post-plantation.
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Mondriaan Fund