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New Museum in Democratic Republic of Congo to Address Economic Inequality Through Art

A new museum focused on exposing worldwide inequalities will open on a former Unilever palm oil plantation in the Congolese forest in April. It will house the Lusanga International Research Center on Art and Economic Inequality (LIRCAEI)—a joint initiative between the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League (CATPC) and the Amsterdam-based Institute for Human Activities. The center’s mission is to transform former plantations into areas for “artistic critique, beauty, and ecological diversity.”

Dubbed “the repatriation of the white cube,” the arts space will be funded by profits that CATPC members make from selling their works in the art world. The goal is to funnel money back into their community, buy back land, and finance development projects. The center was designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture pro bono.

The inauguration of the center will include contributions from plantation workers and artists such as Sammy Baloji, Carsten Höller, Luc Tuymans, and Marlene Dumas. In a statement, the center said, “By establishing itself on the foundation of a new economic and artistic ecosystem, rather than through the existing market (many institutions in which, from the Tate Modern to the Van Abbemuseum to the Museum Ludwig, have been constructed in part with funds obtained through the exploitation of plantation workers), LIRCAEI and the new white cube museum represent a new way forward, through art, for disenfranchised communities.”