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View of “Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise” (Congolese Plantation Workers Art League), 2017. Photo: Kyle Knodell.

Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise

SculptureCenter

View of “Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise” (Congolese Plantation Workers Art League), 2017. Photo: Kyle Knodell.

A DUTCH ARTIST decided to help Congolese agricultural laborers by training them to be artists and then selling their artistic output overseas, generating revenue with which to transform the workers’ wretched plantation world into an art-tourism and research haven. In 2012, he established the Institute for Human Activities (IHA) at KASK/School of Arts of University College Ghent, Belgium, where he and his associates planned their Congo mission, and whence they still direct it. This, in a nutshell, is the backstory and business plan of artist Renzo Martens’s Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), a group of low-wage farmer-artists, artists, and ecologists based in Lusanga, a small town in the Bandundu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The recent CATPC exhibition at SculptureCenter thus inevitably raised complex, even fraught issues about the

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