Renzo Martens is a Dutch artist and filmmaker and currently serves as Co-Founder and Director of the Institute for Human Activities. The Institute has launched a five-year program in the Congolese interior, bringing together artists, thinkers and specialists. With a nod to precedents set in cities like New York and Berlin, the Institute aims to turn art production into an engine of economic growth in Congo, hoping to improve the lives of the people around its settlement.
In his first film, Episode 1, Renzo travels to Chechnya to adopt a rarely defined role in contemporary war: that of its spectator. Episode 3, also known as Enjoy Poverty, is a meditation on the political claims of contemporary art and the result of Renzo's two-year journey in the Congo. In the film, aided by a giant, portable neon sign reading "Enjoy Poverty," Renzo sets up an emancipation program to encourage local communities to think of their poverty as a resource.
Dutch artist Renzo Martens returns to the Democratic Republic of Congo with his Institute for Human Activities (IHA). The new project is an endeavor that maintains that art engagement can redress inequalities. Inaugurated in April 2017, The Repatriation of the White Cube is an exhibition project with political, economic, and social ambitions.
The brainchild of a Dutch artist, Renzo Martens, and a group of European collaborators, the workers’ collective has set out to upend, or at least thoroughly scramble, perceptions of the power dynamic between Africa and the West. Using as its material a luxury good — chocolate — whose production has relied heavily, often ruinously, on African labor and land, the project draws a direct line back to the institutional art world.