Renzo Martens

FEBRUARY 2019 — The Rural, Whitechapel series Documents of Contemporary Art

The fortcoming anthology The Rural in the Whitechapel series Documents of Contemporary Art will include a survey of the work of Renzo Martens.
Martens's work has hitherto been discussed in the volumes Ethics (2009) and Documentary (2013).

OCTOBER 2018 - JANUARY 2019 — Enjoy Poverty presented in Picture Industry, Arles

Episode III: Enjoy Poverty is part of the exhibition Picture Industry: A Provisional History of the Technical Image, 1844–2018 in Luma Arles. It is curated by visual artist and theorist Walead Beshty and reflects on the history of mechanically-reproduced imagery from the nineteenth century to the present with works by Harun Farocki, Dan Graham, Arthur Jafa, Sharon Lockhart, Chris Marker, Kerry James Marshall, Allan Sekula, and Hito Steyerl, amongst others.

The accompanying publication can be purchased here.

OCTOBER 2018 — Residency NT Ghent

Renzo Martens is currently artist in residence at NTGent. During the opening weekend of NTGent — marking the start of Milo Rau as artistic director — Martens will also present an exhibition of the Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC). It contains a video CATPC made with musician and movie director BALOJI. This video is the first manifestation of a collaboration between CATPC, IHA, and NTGent; more to follow soon.

DECEMBER 2017 - Best Art of 2017

Jason Farago states the Cercle d'art des travailleurs de plantation congolaise exhibition in SculptureCenter as the best of 2017 in The New York Times:

"This was the most challenging show of the year, and proudly “problematic,” but that was the point: You need to be fearless, and run right into the swamp of possible misunderstanding, to have any hope of making a difference."

Full article can be read here.

DECEMBER 2017 — MARCH 2018 Renzo Martens in Künstlerhaus Bethanien

From 1 December 2017 until 1 April 2018 Renzo Martens will be in Berlin for a residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien. He will work on the long term programme of the Lusanga International Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality.
The residency has been supported by the Mondriaan Fonds.

DECEMBER 2017 — White Cube Lusanga in TOP-10 Designboom

Designboom placed The White Cube in the TOP 10 of groundbreaking museums and cultural centers. It openend on April 2017. It was featured along Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and Louvre Abu Dhabi in its annual TOP 10.

OCTOBER 2017 - CATPC shortlisted for the Visible Award

The CATPC and Renzo Martens have been shortlisted for the 2017 Visible Award. Please read an interview with Suhail Malik (Goldsmiths, London) on its website.

Suhail Malik: "To describe your project in terms of post-colonial tropes is too limited a logic. Where you’re actually operating is in the more complex formation of the global economy, the global culture that is being set up now."

On December 2, 2017, 10 am to 6 pm, the Queens Museum will host a day-long public jury to determine the winner of the €25,000 award.

JULY 2017 — Aspekte der documenta 14

ZDF invited Monica Bonvicini (artist), Hans Haacke (artist), Bonaventure Ndikung (curator at large documenta 14), and Renzo Martens to reflect on documenta and the Institute for Human Activities.

excerpt (German)

APRIL 2017 - On April 21–22, a quintessential White Cube has been repatriated on the site of Unilever’s first ever plantation of the D.R. Congo

Designed by OMA, this White Cube is the cornerstone of the of the Lusanga International Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality. For decades, monoculture has been violently imposed in the plantations zones by distant shareholders. The immense wealth generated by this exploitative system has been partially invested in art institutions devoted to critique, taste and aesthetics. With the establishment of LIRCAEI, the mechanisms through which plantations underwrite the art world will be reversed. In Lusanga the White Cube will attract the capital and visibility needed to invent a new ecological and economic model on site: the post-plantation.

Render of the White Cube in Lusanga. © OMA.

JANUARY 2017 - First solo exhibition of the Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise in SculptureCenter, New York

CATPC presents future, current, and ancestral self-representations, that represent symbolic figures such as an art collector. First molded from clay, before being 3D printed and cast in chocolate, the sculptures are made in collaborative settings and the materials used refer back to, and overwrite the exploitative economics of global trade. The CATPC reinvests the profits into new, self-owned, and regulated agricultural production – provoking questions regarding the division between those who should work on plantations, and those who are allowed to reflect on that; about the inherent value of art and its market, and challenging art's potential as a tool for broader social change. website

JANUARY 2017 - Matter of Critique IV in SculptureCenter, New York

The fourth Matter of Critique conference will discuss the history of plantation economies and their role today, the potential of art for social and economic change, institution building and collectivity, and the politics of representation.

Conference participants include: Ariella Azoulay, Brown University; Simon Gikandi, Princeton University; Eléonore Hellio, CATPC; David Joselit, The Graduate Center, City University of New York; Mathieu Kilapi Kasiama, CATPC; Ruba Katrib, SculptureCenter; Renzo Martens, Institute for Human Activities; Els Roelandt, School of Arts, Gent and Michael Taussig, Columbia University. Video:

SEPTEMBER 2016 - IHA and CATPC organize the third edition of The Matter of Critique in Lusanga.

In the build-up to its opening, the Lusanga International Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality (LIRCAEI), addressed the function and long-term goals of such a research centre that is located on a plantation in rural Africa. How have other Congolese artistic projects mediated their mission within a capitalist reality? How can an inclusive space that acknowledges local and global economic realities also take an active role in redressing these realities?

With: René Ngongo (President CAPTC), Cécile Fromont (University of Chicago), Sarah Van Beurden (Ohio University), Erick Kassongo (Congolese centre for sustainable development), Filip de Boeck (KU Leuven), Renzo Martens (University College Ghent)
Organisers include: Edmond Mayambo (Institut Supérieur Pédagogique Kikwit), Katrien Pype (Congo Research Network), CATPC, and Institute for Human Activities.


NOVEMBER 2015 - Renzo Martens receives the Witteveen+Bos Art+Technology Award

November 5, the renowned engineering consultancy Witteveen+Bos will award Renzo Martens its yearly Art+Technology Award.

The Board of Directors of Witteveen+Bos state: “Art does much to increase wealth and prosperity in places such as New York, London and Amsterdam. It is a process in which Renzo Martens sees possibilities to realise a new economic model. Can art improve the economic wellbeing at places where this seems highly unlikely? At our very first meeting, Martens set out his ambitious plans. At a former Unilever plantation in the Congolese jungle, his Institute for Human Activities (IHA) has established the world’s first research centre concerned with the relationship between art and economic inequality.”

In the framework of the award, Witteveen+Bos and the IHA develop a blueprint for the ‘reverse gentrification’ of IHA's site in Congo, a former Unilever plantation. How can critical art bypass global value chains and improve the livelihoods of plantation workers?

The blueprint is part of the exhibition "On the Institue for Human Activities", Bergkerk Deventer, November 6 - December 6, 2015.

SEPTEMBER 2015 - Congolese artists, academics, and CATPC-members gather for 'The Matter of Critique' at the IHA research center in Congo

IHA is organizing the international conference series 'The Matter of Critique' to address the material conditions of critical art production.

The recent installment of The Matter of Critique in Congo, September 11 and 12, included speakers such as Professor Mayombo of the University of Kikwit, Katrien Pype of the University of Leuven, and Professor Sikitele of the University of Kinshasa, who talked for hours on the revolt of the BaPende in 1931. Of equal importance were interventions by some key Congolese artists, such as opera singer Serge Kakudji, artist Méga Mingiédi Mingiédi Tunga, art critic and president of AICA Congo Charles Tumba Kekwo, artists Pathy Tshindele, Jean Katambayi, and Maitre Shongo, and the members of the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantations Congolaises (CATPC).

At the former Unilever-plantation they discussed art, global economic inequality, and the various ways to somehow bypass the conditions of critical artistic production and the capital accumulation associated with it in places like London and Venice.

AUGUST 2015 - Renzo Martens wins the Amsterdam Art Prize 2015

Chairman of the Jury, journalist Clairy Polak: "With his social engagement, Renzo Martens provokes, confronts, but also fascinates. By addressing the total mania and cynical character of this world, he challenges his audience to reflect. Renzo literally opens our eyes to what we do not want to see. Obnoxious, unbearable, and irritating; his work evokes contradictory feelings."

"Purchasing a chocolate sculpture is a risky investment. Fascinating."

The jury recognizes art's role "to promote and profile the metropolis of Amsterdam as an international, dynamic living and working environment, attractive travel destination, and a testing ground for innovations."

The award is worth €35.000 of prize money. Renzo Martens: “For the first time in my life, I earn something close to an average income.”

MAY 2015 - Great reviews in Germany:
'One of the most controversial artists of the contemporary'. Die Zeit.
'Chocolate, as a sculptural material, long after Beuys and Roth, once again new and fascinating'. Monopol

MAY 2015 - A Lucky Day - From May 2nd until July 26th KOW gallery exhibits the most recent body of The Institute for Human Activitie, including huge chocolate sculptures by plantation workers Thomas Leba and Jeremy Magiala


KOW Gallery
Brunnenstr. 9, 10119 Berlin

MAY 2015 - During THE MATTER OF CRITIQUE, the Institute for Human Activities sets up a public office at the KW institute for Contemporary Art.
Renzo Martens will join from the Congo settlement and will use KW's institutional infrastructure to gather the resources, critical thinking and cappuccino bar to back up the gentrification of a piece of Congolese rainforest - and therefore a place where critical art production can fully deal with its own financial, economic and social terms and conditions.

© Institute for Human Activities


read more

Simultaneously there will be an exhibition with works by members of the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs des Plantations Congolaises at KOW Gallery in Berlin.

MAY 2015 - From May 2nd until June 6th Gallery Fons Welters, Amsterdam. A Lucky Day - an exhibition of The Institute for Human Activities, featuring sculptures by Thomas Leba, Emery Muhanga and others.

© Institute for Human Activities


Gallery Fons Welters
Bloemstraat 140
1016 lj Amsterdam
The Netherlands

APRIL 2015 - 25/26/27 APRIL: ART BRUSSELS - The Institute for Human Activities is part of NOT-FOR-PROFIT SPACES-program at Art Brussels.

"Apart from the institutional public and private spaces already existing in Benelux, the region has a number of very dynamic and important artist-run and not-for-profit spaces which are an integral part of the art scene, an important platform for artists and art-lovers alike, and a driving force behind some of the most inventive exhibitions." (Art Brussels)

© Art Brussels 2015

Art Brussels - Contemporary art fair
Brussels Expo (Heysel)
Halls 1 & 3
Place de Belgique, 1
BE-1020 Brussels

APRIL 2015 - From april 16th untill april 19th KOW gallery Berlin will show the work of Renzo Martens and the Institute for Human Activities at Art Cologne.

© Art Cologne

Art Cologne - International Art Market
16 - 19 April 2015
Koelnmesse GmbH
Messeplatz 1
50679 Cologne

MARCH 2015 - Anthony Downey, author of Art and Politics Now, and artist Renzo Martens engage in a conversation chaired by Elvira Dyangani Ose, addressing the role of artistic critique vis-a-vis globalization, migration, social activism.

Art and Politics Now
Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium
Monday 16 March 2015, 18.30 – 20.00
£12, concessions available

FEBRURARY 2015 - The work of Renzo Martens and the Institute for Human Activities will be shown at the 16th edition of Art Rotterdam.

More info:
Art Rotterdam
Van Nelle Fabriek Rotterdam
February 5-8 2015

FEBRUARY 2015 - Pop-Up Store at Art Rotterdam, with the Institute for Human Activities

© V2_

JANUARY 2015 - Artist Organisations International

Hebbel am Ufer Berlin will moderate between several International Artist Organisations including Renzo Martens and the Institute for Human Activities.

HAU Hebbel am Ufer
January 9-11 2015

JANUARY 2015 - Straight from the Horse's Mouth is a collaboration between Artes Mundi 6 and the Cardiff Metropolitan University School of Art and Design. Renzo Martens, among 5 other artist, will speak about the key themes of his work such as regeneration and gentrification.

(conference followed by a social gathering at Chapter, Canton at 7:45pm).

DECEMBER 2014 - Lecture on the Institute for Human Activities at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London on December 12, 2014.

Learn more

© Institute for Human Activities

NOVEMBER 2014 - The Institute for Human Activities takes part in the group show Confessions of the Imperfect curated by Steven ten Thije and Alistair Hudson at Van Abbe Museum.

Confessions of the Imperfect is an exhibition on art, design, life and work, structured as a practical and experiential survey of the modern world. The basis of the exhibition is an impressive, architectural intervention by artist Liam Gillick, who constantly puts up different barriers in the exhibition based on the barricade, which the visitor has to conquer in a playful way. In this architecture you will come across new and old work by artists including Constant, Jeremy Deller, Fernando García-Dory, Liam Gillick, Renzo Martens, Antoni Miralda, Li Mu, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Alexandra Pirici & Manuel Pelmus, John Ruskin, Static and Akram Zaatari.
Van Abbe Museum

Confessions of the Imperfect
22.11.2014 - 22.02.2015
Van Abbemuseum
Bilderdijklaan 10
Eindhoven, The Netherlands

OCTOBER 2014 - The exhibition of ARTES MUNDI 6 will take place in Cardiff at National Museum Cardiff, Chapter Arts Centre and ffotogallery from 24th October 2014 to 22nd February 2015.

Artist Mundi 6 is the UK’s leading international contemporary art prize and an important arbiter of cultural exchange between the UK and the international community which takes place bi-annually. Bringing together a major exhibition of the world’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Artes Mundi 6 promises to be the foremost opportunity to see ground-breaking, international contemporary art in the UK. Artes Mundi, Press release

For more information, please click here.

© Institute for Human Activities

Snapshot of the preparations for Artes Mundi.
Sculptures made by the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League, digitally exported, reproduced in Belgium by chocolatiers.

SEPTEMBER 2014 - 'Evil Clowns' is a wonderful show, curated by Inke Arns, which tackles the marginal position that artists sometimes enable within their critical standpoint towards social aspects.

The show includes works by Anonymous, Marion Auburtin (FR), Blue Noses (RU), Barbara Breitenfellner (DE), The Cacophony Society (US), Kimberly Clark (NL), Deichkind (DE), Constant Dullaart (NL), George Grosz (DE), Guerrilla Girls (US), Insane Clown Posse, the Joker, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Krusty, Laibach (SI), Renzo Martens (NL), the Northampton Clown, Novi kolektivizem (SI), Ronald McDonald, Pennywise, Der Plan (DE), Pogo, Abner Preis (IL/US/NL), Pussy Riot (RU), The Residents (US), Roee Rosen (IL), Aura Rosenberg (US/DE), Christoph Schlingensief (DE), Cindy Sherman (US), Super A (DE), Jeffrey Vallance (US), The Yes Men (US).

Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV)
HMKV in the Dortmunder U, Level 3
September 27, 2014 – March 8, 2015

Marion Auburtin, Clown Maléfique, Öl auf Papier, 31 × 41 cm, from the Serie La Nuit des Masques, 2014 © Marion Auburtin

SEPTEMBER 2014 - Manifesto! An Alternative History of Photography at Fotomuseum Winterthur (Gallery of Collection), Switzerland.

"Manifesto! An Alternative History of Photography is the first exhibition to explore the historical relationship between photography and the manifesto. Comprising 56 statements written by photographers covering the whole history of photography from the 1840s to the present day, it assembles those who have something urgent to say about the medium. The result is an engaging cacophony of voices, often programmatic, sometimes angry, but always hopeful." (Fotomuseum Winterthur)

Artists: W. H. F. Talbot, Alexander Rodtschenko, August Sander, John Heartfield, Otto Steinert, Johan van der Keuken, Minor White, Chris Marker, Mel Bochner, the Situationist International, Peter McKenzie, Martha Rosler, Martin Kippenberger, Joachim Schmid, Ai Weiwei, Shahidul Alam, Hossam el-Hamalawy, Renzo Martens, Thomas Hirschhorn, Hito Steyerl, BöhmKobayashi and Alfredo Jaar among others.

Opening Friday, 12 September 2014 from 18:00 to 21:00
On view 13.09.2014 - 23.11.2014
Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 + 45, Winterthur (Zurich)

AUGUST 2014 - During the summer series 'The choice of the columnist' on NPO doc, writer Arnon Grunberg chose Episode III: Enjoy Poverty as one of his favorite documentaries. Episode III will be broadcasted several times in the week of August, 23 - 29. Click here to see the full schedule.

AUGUST 2014 - IHA reopens on an undisclosed location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Since 2012, the Institute for Human Activities (IHA) has worked on what it called ‘A Gentrification Program’ on a former Unilever plantation near Boteka in the DRC, 800 kilometers from Kinshasa on a small tributary of the Congo River.

In the summer of 2013, Canadian palm oil operator Feronia blocked public roads, reneged on contracts and destroyed IHA's headquarters. It also confiscated artworks in which children of plantation workers expressed their vision of the future, made in workshops led by therapist Rony Berger. The IHA was forced to leave its buildings and the communities with whom it had been working in close collaboration.

The IHA has since resettled to an undisclosed location in the DRC. It is here that the IHA continues to explore how art that is fully engaged with the globalized conditions of its own functioning can make more profound claims on reality.

Installation view 'Baldessari Sings LeWitt', 2014. Presentation Van Abbemuseum Collection, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Current Program - August 5-14, 2014

From August 5 to 14 the IHA resumes its Critical Curriculum, presents artworks from the Van Abbemuseum and hosts the inaugural meeting of the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League.

As a first of a series of exhibitions from the Van Abbemuseum Collection, the IHA exhibits video works by Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari and Dan Graham, exploring the Institute’s indebtedness to minimalism, its transition into early institutional critique—the notion of art as a construct between its means of production and the role it fulfills for its audiences.

In response to last summer’s dramatic events, Congolese activist René Ngongo will preside over the inaugural meeting of the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League. The League is a consensus-driven artistic community that strategizes economic diversification and prioritizes issues its members aim to tackle. The meeting will take place in a structure designed by NYC-based artist Liam Gillick.

The presentation of the Van Abbemuseum Collection and inaugural League meeting coincide with IHA’s Critical Curriculum, a series of workshops led by Kinshasa-based artists Mega Mingiedi, Eléonore Hellio and Michel Ekeba, in which Congolese plantation workers, most of them members of the League, embark on the production of elaborate self-portraits, and make the transition from lowly paid plantation labor into more lucrative post-Fordist affective labor.

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AUGUST 2014 - Episode III: Enjoy Poverty is currently on view at Mu.ZEE where the work is part of the group show Hunting and Collecting curated by Sammy Baloji

July 2014 - Fundacja Slowa i Rzeczy is presenting a six-month during program on the interdisciplinary relationship between contemporary art and globalization. Episode III: Enjoy Poverty is joining the program and will be screened on July 17th in the Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok, Poland.

Facebook event

July 2014 - The exhibition 'More Power' at Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, is showing a glimpse of the establishment of the Institute for Human Activities in the Congolese rainforest. Friday July 4th, Renzo Martens will virtually join the conference at the museum by speaking from his current location at the Institute for Human Activities.

A screening of Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, continued by a Skype talk with Renzo Martens, takes place on July 4th, at Museum de Fundatie, Blijmarkt 20, Zwolle, Netherlands.
Facebook event

The exhibition 'More Power/Meer Macht' can be visited until August 17.

May 2014 - A screening of Episode III: Enjoy Poverty will be followed by a conversation with Claire Bishop, Ashley Dawson and Renzo Martens at The Center for the Humanities in New York on May 9.

4.30 - 6 PM screening in Room 3416
6.30 PM conversation in the Skylight Room (9100)
The Center for the Humanities
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, US

learn more
facebook event

April 2014 - A viewing copy of Episode III: Enjoy Poverty is now available for online rent and/or purchase. Please have a look at the official website

April 2014 - "Martens appears to be offering a courageous indictment of Western crisis-porn, but as the questions unfold, he begins asking things like “Do you find me handsome?” and the work deliquesces from reportage to art.", are the satisfying descriptive words of William Kherbek on Renzo Martens Episode I. Episode I has currently it's first viewing in Berlin in the exhibition 'It's My Hair And I Can Do What I Want With It' in Galerie Kamm. A nicely reported review of the exhibition was published in PORT Magazine by William Kherbek. Click here to read the full review.

March 2014 - Open letter to the Artistic Director, Team, Board, Artists and Visitors of the 2014 Sydney Biennial

Dear Madam, Sir,

The turmoil about the links between maltreatment of refugees and Transfield as the sponsor of the Sydney Biennial, represents a tremendous problem for the organizers of the Sydney Biennial. But it may also be a golden opportunity. Thanks to the artists taking a stance against Transfield’s sponsorship, the chair of the Board resigned. The agenda has been reset, and this Biennial may well become a landmark event in which the complex entanglement of art and global economic segregation takes center stage.

Let’s be clear: even if the Sydney Biennial were funded by the most benevolent of sponsors, it would still depend on the same global economic segregation Transfield is contracted to enforce. I wonder if, without this segregation, any of the artists involved could ever afford to make art and fly halfway around the world to present their pieces in Sydney in the first place.

One piece that the Sydney Biennial wanted to show is Episode 3, also known as Enjoy Poverty, a piece I made a few years ago. It shows a white man’s self-congratulatory political gestures in the face of relentless exploitation. The piece portrays the current predicament and art’s role in it. It therefore belongs in the Sydney Biennial, not in spite of Transfield’s corporate sponsorship but because of it.

Another piece of mine the Biennial wanted to show does not deal with these issues; I therefore withdraw Episode 1. It has no place in the immense challenge the artists have forced the Biennial to take on: find out what art means vis-à-vis the structural inequalities it depends on.

I request that this letter takes the place of the work I withdraw from the exhibition.


Renzo Martens

March 2014 - Devika Sharma will speak about humanitarian imagery and hereby discuss pictures of Episode III at the symposium 'What Images Do' in Copenhagen.

What Images Do
March 19 - 21, 2014
The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
more info

March 2014 - Episode I is shown in the groupshow It's my hair and I can do what I want with it curated by Kirsa Geiser in Galerie Kamm, Berlin.

Participating artists: Lisa Holzer, Liz Magic Laser, Renzo Martens, Pilvi Takala, Britta Thie and Jordan Wolfson

On view from March 1st till April 19th, 2014.
Tue - Sat 11am - 6pm
Galerie Kamm
Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 45, Berlin
Galerie Kamm

Renzo Martens is proud to announce his solo exhibition at The BOX in Los Angeles.
Prior to the opening of the show, Renzo Martens will be speaking at USC Roski School of Art and Design's Graduate Lecture Series.


Solo show: Renzo Martens: Episode III
On view: January 25 - March 1, 2014
Opening reception: Saturday, January 25, 6-9 pm
At The BOX, 805 Traction Avenue Los Angeles

Renzo Martens lecture at USC Roski Graduate lecture series
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
12noon - 2 pm
Graduate Fine Arts Building (IFT)
Lecture Forum
3001 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Roski School of Art and Design

December 2013 - An installation of Episode III will be on view during the exhibition global aCtIVISm at the ZKM I Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany.

November 2013 - Hunger For Trade, a two-day conference at the SchauSpielHaus Hamburg aims to explore the problems and perspectives of the global food market. In the context of developing performative strategies to establish an artistic discourse on the future of food in its global context and reaching out research material, Episode III will be screened and discussed by Renzo Martens on November, 30th.

Please click here to learn more.

November 2013 - We proudly announce Renzo Martens' participation in the 19th Biennale of Sydney.

"The 19th Biennale of Sydney celebrates the power of artistic imagination. You Imagine What You Desire is an optimistic biennale that presents an exploration of the world and contemporary aesthetic experience through the inventions and desires of the artists."

October 2013 - On October 18th, Renzo Martens joins a panel discussion on 'Art and Media in Congo', a special kick-off event for the 5th Anniversary Edition of NY-based film/event series Congo In Harlem, organized by SocDoc at the School of Visual Arts NYC.


At Art and Media in Congo, an internationally acclaimed group of artists with recent or in-progress works in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will come together to discuss their projects, perspectives and interests in Congo as a site of art and media production.

Petna Ndaliko Katondolo & Cherie Rivers Ndaliko, Filmmakers & Founders, Yole!Africa
Richard Mosse, Photographer, Infra
Renzo Martens, Artist & Creative Director, Institute for Human Activities
Dan McCabe, Photographer & Filmmaker, This is Congo
Shana Mongwanga, Filmmaker/Actress & Founder, Africa Lives!

Neelika Jayawardane, Professor, SUNY Oswego & Contributor, Africa is a Country


October 2013 - '9 Artists' at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Prior to the exhibition '9 artists', the artist lecture on the Institute for Human Activities will take place on October 17th at the Walker Cinema.
This lecture will be webcast live on the Walker Channel.


Exhibition '9 Artists', October 24th - February 16th

This international, multigenerational group exhibition considers the changing role of the artist in contemporary culture. Bringing together the expansive practices of some of the most provocative and engaged artists working today—Yael Bartana, Liam Gillick, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Renzo Martens, Bjarne Melgaard, Nástio Mosquito, Hito Steyerl, and Danh Vo—the show examines ways that they negotiate the complicities and contradictions of living in an ever more complex and networked world. Rarely considered together, they each use their own backgrounds or identities as material, frequently in antagonistic or subversive ways. Featuring some 40 works, both past and new, 9 Artists includes a range of sculpture, painting, installation, video, and ephemera.

More info here.

September 2013 - Renzo Martens has been invited to participate in the program 'One True Art - 16 Responses to the Question ‘What is art?'' at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.

Within the framework of a search after a definition of art or why this seems to be impossible, Renzo Martens will elucidate the Institute for Human Activities.

More info here.

September 2013 - Renzo Martens will speak about the Institute for Human Activities at the third talk on 'Phantasma und Politik' in Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin.
Sunday 22.09.2013, 8 PM

Tickets are here available

September 2013 - 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. Episode 3 is selected by curators Xander Karskens and Irina Gorlova for the exhibition 'Ghost in the system - scenarios for resistance' at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow.


Exhibition in the frame of the Netherlands-Russia year 2013
Opening: 13 September 2013 at 19.00
On view: 14 September - 5 October at the National centre for contemporary arts (NCCA) in Moscow

About project:
(by Xander Karskens)

What remains the potential of art in a crisis-ridden world, a world subjugated to the cynicism of neoliberal capitalism and ever-expanding globalization? As Theodor Adorno already argued half a century ago, resistance to the ‘totally administered world’ is both absolutely necessary yet utterly impossible. The gargantuan task resting on the artists’s shoulders today is to try and navigate this paradox without losing faith or succumbing to resignation, and to try and find ever new ways to imagine the world around us differently.

The artists in “Ghost in the system – scenarios for resistance” each hold individual artistic positions in which they navigate the possibilities of refusal, in order to resist the hegemony of the governing order. In doing so, they aspire to generate debate and conflict – whether actively responding to sociopolitical reality on the world’s stage, or negotiating the forces of individual subjectivity. From Renzo Martens’s provocative analysis of the economy of poverty to Guido van der Werve’s exhaustive exploration of against-the-grain self-determination, the exhibited artists look for ways to counter the forces that govern us, using the work of art as a site for resistance and speculation.

“Ghost in the system – scenarios for resistance” brings together a selection of recent video works and installations from the collection of De Hallen Haarlem. De Hallen Haarlem is a museum for modern and contemporary art in Haarlem, that presents an international program of temporary exhibitions, public programs, and collection presentations. Since 2000, its collection focus has shifted towards photography and video. Focusing on a broad range of performative strategies in contemporary art, it comprises important contemporary works by artists like Paul McCarthy, Rineke Dijkstra, Andrea Fraser, Nan Goldin, Erik van Lieshout, Guido van der Werve, and Artur Zmijewski.

“Ghost in the system – scenarios for resistance” presents works by a young generation of artists, which is representative for the international character of the artist community in the Netherlands. Many of them have been participants in internationally acclaimed postgraduate educational institutions like the Rijksakademie or De Ateliers in Amsterdam. They are widely exhibited in the Netherlands and abroad.

Participating artists: Guido van der Werve, Joost Conijn, Erik van Lieshout, Renzo Martens, Nathaniel Mellors, Julika Rudelius and Pilvi Takala

Click here for more info.

September 2013 - 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. Episode 1 is selected by curators Elena Sorokina and Jelle Bouwhuis for the exhibition 'Space of Exception' at ARTPLAY Design Center in Moscow.

Click here for more info.

June 2013 - Enjoy poverty is to be discussed in the June issue of The Brooklyn Rail Magazine, written by crystal am nelson.
The article can be read here

June 2013 - The travelling exhibition "Either / Or" on the occasion of Søren Kierkegaard’s (1813 – 1855) bicentenary with work of Renzo Martens, will be on view at the Haus am Waldsee in Berlin from 22 June to 22 September.

May 2013 - On the Institute for Human Activities presentation at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

Click here for more information

May 2013 - Renzo Martens Martens will give a presentation and discuss the project of the Institute for Human Activities with TJ Demos, Anthony Downey, and Sarah James in London.


Renzo Martens, artist presentation and discussion

Wednesday, 22 May, 6-8

Archaeology G6 Lecture Theatre, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY

The event is free and open to all.

Co-sponsored by Sotheby's and UCL’s Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art

May 2013 - From May 8 until May 11, Renzo Martens will give a lecture on the Institute for Human Activities, in the context of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts at Wiels (Brussels).
Click here for more information about the presentation.

May 2013 — The Institute for Human Activities, a new institute Renzo is part of, announces a series of presentations.

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, WIELS, Brussels — presentation — 8-11 May 2013

Sotheby's Institute of Art in partnership with University College London, London — presentation — 22 May 2013

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam — presentation — 26 May 2013

9 Artists, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis — exhibition — 27 October 2013 - 16 February 2014

Click here to learn more.

April 2013 - On the second of April Renzo Martens' film Episode III will be introduced by Pierre Bismuth during the film festival Encore! at Bonniers Konsthall. Read all about the festival here

March 2013 - Episode III was selected by curator Solvej Helweg Ovesen for the group show "Either/Or" at the Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen, Denmark.


16.03.2013 - 19.05.2013

The group exhibition "Either / Or" in Nikolaj Kunsthal Upper Gallery celebrates the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard's 200th birthday 5th May 2013 with a loving and critical look at today's world.

In his famous philosophical work "Either - Or" (1843) Søren Kierkegaard presents the two characters 'the aesthete' and 'the ethicist' as a basis for human behavior. It is with these two concepts, 'the aesthete' and 'the ethicist', the exhibition "Either / Or" addresses the question of how modern man experiences, sees and meets the world. As an aesthetician, a dandy, basing his choosing on the senses and the moment or as the thoughtful ethicist, acting in accordance with the rational and critical thinking?

Rarely the answer is clear or precise, and this tension between the aesthetic and the ethical the cores discussion in the exhibition.

In the gallery the art works are literally placed fronting each other - ethical on one side, aesthetical on the other - leaving it up to the audience to experience, sort and find a way between the aesthetics and ethics.

Exhibiting artists

Alfred Boman (S), Birgit Brenner (D), Christian Falsnaes (GB), Ahmad Ghossein (LB), Jeppe Hein (GB), Tom Hillewaere (B), Pieter Hugo (SA), Renzo Martens (NL), IEPE (NL), Stine Marie Jacobsen (DK), Cia Rinne (FI), Kirstine Roepstorff (GB), David Armstrong Six (CA), Liv Beach (SE)​​, Salinas & Bergman (N), Tal R (DK), Kerry Tribe (USA) and Lee Yongbaek (KR)

March 2013 - Renzo Martens' Episode III will be screened in Cairo during Battles Of Images, a series of lectures and events curated by Shuruq Harb. Battles of Images takes a look at the visual culture resulting from shifts in photojournalism towards systems of aid.


Battles Of Images
Series of Lectures & Events Curated by Shuruq Harb

Contributors include: Shuruq Harb, Thomas Keenan, Leah Gordon, Moukhar Kocache, Asunción Molinos Gordo, Thomas Hartwell, Renzo Martens, and others to be confirmed.

"News" and "News Photography" are arguably one of the biggest exports of the Middle East today. In the last few years the region has generated images of hope and resistance as well as images of conflict, bloodshed and destruction. Picture the following: Tom Cruise climbing Burj Khalifa in Dubai for Mission Impossible; to the image of the woman in the blue bra being beaten up by the police in Tahrir Sqaure; to the aftermath of shelling and bombings in Halab, Syria.

While the captions accompanying the images change, the situations in these images often look the same. A protest image from the streets of Cairo today resembles a protest image of Gaza in 1988. Pictures of destruction in Syria today are reminiscent of pictures from Iraq in 2003.

Despite this visual repetition, numerous questions still arise. The image of destruction generates emergency and relief programs that then turn into capacity building and democratisation programs. Yet one might debate whether images are created for the camera rather than documented by it; and more simply, how are we affected by these representations? What is the economy that generates them, and what other kinds of economies are generated by them?

Drawing from specific projects and experiences in the field, this series of talks, screenings and discussions takes a look at the visual culture resulting from shifts in photojournalism towards systems of aid.

2 March 2013, 7 pm

Screening of Enjoy Poverty by Renzo Martens, 88 mins

For two years, Renzo Martens travelled around the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from the capital of Kinshasa to deep into the interior. Camera in hand, he roves through the poverty-fighting industry in the post-civil war country and arrives at a conclusion: poverty is there to stay, and fighting it is an industry from which the poor benefit very little. In response, the filmmaker launches a program of emancipation in which the DRC’s inhabitants are made aware of their primary resource: poverty.

March 2013 - On tuesday March 12 art historian T.J. Demos considers Renzo Martens’s video Enjoy Poverty from 2008 in a joint presentation by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics and the Cooper Union School of Art’s Interdisciplinary Seminar.



The Haunting: Poverty Pornography, Humanitarianism, and Neoliberal Globalization in Renzo Martens’s Enjoy Poverty (2008)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
The Cooper Union School of Art
Rose Auditorium
41 Cooper Square (at the corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue), New York.
Free Admission

In a joint presentation by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics and the Cooper Union School of Art’s Interdisciplinary Seminar, art historian T.J. Demos considers Dutch artist Renzo Martens’s video Enjoy Poverty from 2008. Drawing from his forthcoming book Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art, Demos elaborates on the Dutch artist’s travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo where he created a performative intervention in the image-regime of media, photojournalist, humanitarian, and artistic representations of poverty that reveals the structural conditions of economic inequality under neoliberalism’s global financial arrangements. Demos contextualizes and assesses the video’s devastating attack on the dominant paradigm of mass-media’s approach to war and conflict—documentary empathy—and examines critically Martens’s alternative proposal.

T.J. Demos is critic and Reader in the Art History Department at University College London. He writes widely on modern and contemporary art and politics, and is the author, most recently, of Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2013), and The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013). Demos also recently guest-edited a special issue of Third Text 120 (January 2013) on “Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology.” He is a member of the Nominators Council for the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics.
This lecture is organized and presented by Cooper Union, in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.

February 2013 - Episode III: Enjoy Poverty is now on view in the gallery at the Tropenmuseum during the exhibition Onverwachte Ontmoetingen. The show is an encounter between Renzo Martens' piece in the Congo and the colonial expedition film "By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" (1926).

February 2013 - Now on view in Museum M in the exhibition Blijven Kijken | Ce qui nous regarde | Dropouts: a selection of photographs by the Association des Photographes de Kanyabayonga, in collaboration with Renzo Martens.


Blijven Kijken | Ce qui nous regarde | Dropouts
Curator: Pieter Van Bogaert
Scenography: Ann Clicteur

In the group exhibition Dropouts, artists experiment with materials from their medium. They search for the moment at which images appear: in the meeting of two pixels, in the introduction of a new technology, in a particular way of listening or in exploring a medium. Other artists will show where images disappear: due to an excess of pixels, the democratisation of a technology, a deafening sound or eliminating a feeling.

Dropouts is situated in the tension between politics and aesthetics. It starts with the selection of an aesthetic and ends with a form of politics. These media artists also reflect on the materials of their craft. Each in their own way, they explore the boundaries of representation: the (in)visible, the other, the personal that guarantees maximum involvement.

Herman Asselberghs Anouk De Clercq & Jerry Galle Mekhitar Garabedian Pieter Geenen Elias Heuninck Wim Janssen David Larcher Gorik Lindemans Renzo Martens Els Opsomer Stefaan Quix Femke Snelting Els Viaene & Duncan Speakman

February 2013 - A symposium: The politics of the social in contemporary art in Tate Modern, London


Can art intervene in social relations? What are the implications of involving art and its audiences in an ethical problem? And how do such practices relate to art’s social institutions? This symposium examines the turn towards participatory and collaborative art forms and the ethical questions that such practices raise.

Featuring a keynote by Professor Shannon Jackson and contributions from Wafaa Bilal, Emma Dowling, Grupo Etcétera, Gavin Grindon, Anja Kanngieser, Fran Lloyd, Renzo Martens, Not an Alternative, Luke Skrebowski, Wochenklausur and Ztohoven.

The symposium will be followed by film screenings by the day’s speakers.

February 2013 - Another book to add to your wish list: Documentary (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art), edited by Julian Stallabrass. A critical reflection on the recent revival of documentary in contemporary art.


After a long period in eclipse, documentary has undergone a marked revival in recent art. This has been spurred by two phenomena: the exhibition of photographic and video work on political issues at Documenta and numerous biennials; and increasing attention to issues of injustice, violence, and trauma in the war zones of the endemically conflict-ridden twenty-first century. The renewed attention to photography and video in the gallery and museum world has helped make documentary one of the most prominent modes of art-making today. Unsurprisingly, this development has been accompanied by a rich strain of theoretical and historical writing on documentary. This anthology provides a much-needed contextual grounding for documentary art. It explores the roots of documentary in modernism and its critique under postmodernism; surveys current theoretical thinking about documentary; and examines a wide range of work by artists within, around, or against documentary through their own writings and interviews.

Artists surveyed include: Kutlug Ataman, Ursula Biemann, Hasan Elahi, Harun Farocki, Omer Fast, Joan Fontcuberta, Regina José Galindo, David Goldblatt, Craigie Horsfield, Alfredo Jaar, Emily Jacir, Lisa F. Jackson, Philip Jones Griffiths, An-My Le, Renzo Martens, Boris Mikhailov, Daido Moriyama, Walid Raad, Michael Schmidt, Sean Snyder

Order the book

February, 2013. T. J. Demos' forthcoming book "Return to the Postcolony: Specters of Colonialism in Contemporary Art"


In the wake of failed states, growing economic and political inequality, and the ongoing US- and NATO-led wars for resources, security, and economic dominance worldwide, contemporary artists are revisiting former European colonies, considering past injustices as they haunt the living yet remain repressed in European consciousness. With great timeliness, projects by Sven Augustijnen, Vincent Meessen, Zarina Bhimji, Renzo Martens, and Pieter Hugo have emerged during the fiftieth anniversary of independence for many African countries, inspiring a kind of “reverse migration”—a return to the postcolony, which drives an ethico-political as well as aesthetic set of imperatives: to learn to live with ghosts, and to do so more justly.

T. J. Demos places contemporary art within the context of neoliberal globalization and what scholars have referred to as the “colonial present.” The analysis is complex and provocative, both for an understanding of the historical material as well as for the contemporary theoretical discourse. Return to the Postcolony is one of the most ambitious, intelligent, and readable texts on contemporary art related to the African context that I have read.
—Alexander Alberro, author of Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity

The specters of colonialism continue to haunt the current global order. Far removed from universalist and ultimately empty demands for a “global art history,” T. J. Demos uses particular cases to explore the false universality of “globalization” as we know it. This is art writing at its best: determinate and determined.
—Sven Lütticken, author of Idols of the Market: Modern Iconoclasm and the Fundamentalist Spectacle

Order the book.

January 2013 - New publication In and Out of Brussels. Figuring Postcolonial Africa and Europe in the Films of Herman Asselberghs, Sven Augustijnen, Renzo Martens, and Els Opsomer. Edited by Hilde Van Gelder, T. J. Demos


In and Out of Brussels examines four Brussels-based artistic projects that converge in critically investigating the figuration of Africa in the image economy of the West: Herman Asselberghs's Speech Act (2011), Sven Augustijnen's Spectres (2011), Renzo Martens's Episode III - Enjoy Poverty (2008) and Els Opsomer's Building Stories: That Distant Piece of Mine (2012).

While each is a singular film, together they reveal Africa's postcolonial imaginary to be a zone of crisis, situated between humanitarian emergency, financial pillage, and the politics of memory on the one hand, and the fictional - but nonetheless consequential - construction of European identity on the other. Just as dominant neocolonial narratives (which all too often cover over movements for independence and social justice) are critically played out and contested in these works, so too are documentary conventions creatively reinvented by Asselberghs, Augustijnen, Martens, and Opsomer. The resulting moving images emerge as a complex site of postcolonial haunting, self-reflexive performativity, researched analysis, archival reordering, and post-documentary cinematic affect.

This book represents the outcome of an interdisciplinary and international research project, that gathered theoreticians, art critics, curators, and artists over a two-year period (2010-2012). The conversations collected and reprinted here look closely at the four films and examine their political, aesthetic, and historical implications.

Herman Asselberghs, Sven Augustijnen, Filip De Boeck, Manon de Boer, Carles Guerra, T. J. Demos, Thomas Keenan, Sven Lütticken, Renzo Martens, Toma Muteba Luntumbue, Els Opsomer, Dirk Snauwaert, Hilde Van Gelder, Françoise Vergès

Order the book.

October 2012 - On Friday, 12 October Renzo Martens will be doing an artist talk at Yale Law School to accompany the screening of Episode III: Enjoy Poverty. The film and the talk will be part of the seminar Capture 2012: Photography, Nature and Human Rights organized by Laura Wexler. Other lecturers will be Tom Keenan and Ariella Azoulay.

October 2012 — The Institute is delighted to announce its new curator, Els Roelandt. Els has been the chief editor of A Prior, a magazine she co-founded.

July 2012 — Presentation at the Städelschule in Frankfurt on invitation from Nicolaus Hirsch.

April 2012 — The Institute for Human Activities, a new Institute Renzo is part of, has its first show at the 7th Berlin Biennial.

June 2012 — On 11 and 12 June the Institute for Human Activities held its Opening Seminar in the Congolese rainforest.


Curators, economists and activists gathered at the edge of a former Unilever plantation. Before an audience of two hundred plantation workers they discussed the parameters of the Institute's Gentrification Program and its impact on the local community. Click here to read more.

June 20, 2012. Episode 3 presentation, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland.

May 2012 — The Institute for Human Activities is pleased to announce that Dutch public broadcaster VPRO will produce a feature documentary film about the Institute's Gentrification Program. Hundreds of thousands of viewers will be informed about this innovative program.

April, 2012 - A Series of Navigations at The Model, Sligo, Ireland.
A Series of Navigations

January 10, 2012. In the slipstream of the show 'Models for Taking Part' curated by Juan Gaitan, co- hosted by a number of Toronto institutions, a talk. Bernake Gallery

October 2011 - Auditorium Moscow. A Sketch for a Public Space at the 4th Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art


Auditorium Moscow. A Sketch for a Public Space
A Special Project of the 4th Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art
16 September–16 October 2011

Curated by Ekaterina Degot, Joanna Mytkowska, David Riff in collaboration with Andrey Parshikov and Katia Szczeka

Artists: Yael Bartana, Christian von Borries, Sergei Bratkov, Matthijs de Bruijne, Tania Bruguera, Olga Chernysheva, Phil Collins, Chto Delat, Alexandra Galkina and David Ter-Oganyan, Sharon Hayes, Polina Kanis, Yakov Kazhdan, Yuri Leiderman and Andrei Silvestrov, Zbigniew Libera, Learning Film Group, Renzo Martens, Adrian Melis, Deimantas Narkevicius, Tobias Putrih, Haim Sokol, Hito Steyerl, Artur Żmijewski

Special guests: Charles Esche, Galit Eilat, Dorota Głażewska and Agata Szczęśniak (Krytyka Polityczna/Political Critique), Miguel Robles-Duran, and Sergei Sitar

October 2011 - La géographie, ça sert, d’abord, à faire la guerre
Samedi 8 octobre et Samedi 19 novembre 2011 /
John Smith / Renzo Martens / Sean Snyder


Programmation cinéma hors-les-murs du BAL au Cinéma des Cinéastes, Paris, Curatée par Aliocha Imhoff & Kantuta Quiros. 20 septembre 2011 - 10 décembre 2011

Et en parallèle de l’exposition Topographies de la guerre (curatée par Diane Dufour et Jean-Yves Jouannais) au BAL, Paris.

Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd / Francis Alÿs / Basma Al-Sharif / Marine Hugonnier / Armin Linke, Francesco Mattuzzi & Decolonizing architecture / Lida Abdul / Louidgi Beltrame / Cyprien Gaillard / John Smith / Renzo Martens / Sean Snyder / Waël Noureddine / Edouard Beau / Internacional Errorista (Groupe Etcétera) / Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead / Dominic Angerame / Emanuel Licha / Daniel Eisenberg

September 2011 - TJ Demos and a screening in Copenhagen. 'Models for Taking Part' in Toronto. More in Moscow.


TJ Demos lectures on Episode 3 and screens it, at Kunsthalle Charlottenborg. It's part of a series called "Radical Ruptures'. In Toronto, Episode 3 is part of 'Models for Taking Part', a show curated by Juan Gaitan, including works by Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová, Bouchra Khalili, Renzo Martens, Tobias Zielony, and Artur Żmijewski. In Moscow, the Museum of Modern Art of Warshaw, organises the 'Moscow Auditorium". Alongside Artur Zmijewski, Phil Collins et al., Episode 1 and 3 will screen, and Renzo will talk, too, on October 10 and 11.

April 2011- Dieter Roelstraete embraces Episode 3, and a theological position, in e - flux journal.
On Leaving the Building: Thoughts of the Outside

April 2011 - TJ Demos writes beautiful article on Alfredo Jaar, Abderrahmane Sissake, Jacques Ranciere and Episode 3
“Poverty Pornography, Humanitarianism, and Neoliberal Globalization: Notes on Some Paradoxes in Contemporary Art,”

March 26, 2011 - Talks and screenings at Nomas Foundation's 'A film Cycle' in Rome this Sunday, March 27, at Kunstverein in Milan on Monday and at Goldsmiths Universities' 'Institute for Resarch Architecture' in London, on Tuesday 29.

March 31 - Highly recommended: 'Antiphotojournalism' travels to the Amsterdam 'Foam' Museum and opens March 31. With seminal works by a.o. Susan Meiselas, Ariella Azoulay, Eyal Weizman and Hito Steyerl. And Episode 1, too.

March 29, - Talk at Center for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University, London


January 20, 2011 - New essays on Episode 3.


'Ongemakkelijk langs de binnenkant', : by Pieter van Bogaert, in 'Kunstkritiek' Laurens Dhaenens and Hilde van Gelder, Lannoo Campus, Tielt, 2010, and 'Immorality as Ethics' in 'the Age of Globalization / Reflect #08,' by Ruben De Roo, NAi Publishers, Rotterdam, 2010. Worthwhile reads.

January 15, 2011 - My War, Kingston, Canada. With a.o. Harun Farocki, Harrell Fletcher, Milica Tomic.
My War

December 8 - 11, Capitalism and the Aesthetics of Knowledge in the 21st century, Kunsthalle Athena: Ursula Biemann, Johan Grimonprez, Renzo Martens, Allan Sekula.


Capitalism and the Aesthetics of Knowledge in the 21st century, Uses of the Social Document in Contemporary Visual Art.

A series of four screenings and seminars led by Angela Dimitrakaki, art historian and writer (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Wednesday 8 December - Saturday 11 December, 18:00-21:00

Wednesday 8 December Ursula Biemann, Black Sea Files, 2005, 43'
Courtesy of the artist

Thursday 9 December Johan Grimonprez, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, 1997, 68'
Courtesy of The Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens

Friday 10 December Renzo Martens, Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, 2008, 88'
Courtesy of Wilkinson Gallery, London

Saturday 11 December Allan Sekula, The Lottery of the Sea, 2006, 179' (3 hours)
Courtesy of Galerie Michel Rein, Paris

December 8, 2010 - December, 12, 2010, Image Mouvement, Centre d'Art Contemporain Geneve


FORUM: screenings, performative discussions, mediation, an art public project and a salon with music programme
Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève
Le Commun / Bâtiment d’Art Contemporain Genève
Cinemas Auditorium Arditi et Spoutnik
9.12.2010 —12.12.2010

Image Mouvement

November 25, 2010 - Episode 1 at the Center for Digital Art in Holon, Israel.


Into the Eye of the Storm, curated by Chen Tamir, is part of VIDEOZONE V, The 5th International Video Art Biennial in Israel. The exhibition brings together video works that use the camera as a protagonist or that otherwise call to question the power the camera has on its environment and the subjects it records. In a media-saturated world, where our personal and collective realities are increasingly mediated by video imagery, we must constantly analyze what forces shape what and how we exchange information. A roster of up-and-coming local and international artists are brought together in this exhibition to examine how the camera does more than document its subject; it produces them. Often controversial, these works are both intellectually stimulating and emotionally charged, leading the viewer through a range of possible reactions ranging from doubt to abhorrence to pathos and in the process examine the very act of filming and of being filmed.
For more information, please visit:

Into the Eye of the Storm

November 6, 2010 - The Ethics of The Encounter, at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, with Renzo Martens: Episode III (2009), Artur Żmijewski: Repetition (2005), Frederick Wiseman: Primate (1974)


When artists site their practice within the fabric of social relations, documentary modes often play a central role in mediating events and experiences. Though the resulting material often bears a close resemblance to ethnographic mapping, investigative journalism or even community work, in contrast to the strict ethical codes to which these disciplines adhere many of today's artists operate in somewhat murkier waters. Working outside - or even deliberately corrupting - accepted conventions and frameworks, the artists participating in this two-part exhibition find alternative means to engage with social realities in situations of war, sex and political urgency.

Renzo Martens: Episode III – Enjoy Poverty (2009) 87 minutes, Saturday 6 November - Friday 12 November

The Dutch artist Renzo Martens spent two years filming in the Congo, a Central African country decimated by the effects of brutal colonialism, civil war and material exploitation. After a further year spent editing in his adopted city of Brussels, the portrait that emerges is not a conventional, objective description of the misery which besets the lives of so many in this region, but rather a satirically reflexive account which aims to reflect something of the broader political realities. Martens performs an array of characters over the course of the film, subtly moving from diplomat to ethnographer, from economist to celebrity, all the while resolutely maintaining what John Millar has called his ‘pathologically uncompromising position’. By observing, re-enacting and thereby callously re-enforcing the status quo, he critically investigates the contradictions of humanitarianism together with the politics of contemporary image production.

Artur Żmijewski: Repetition (2005) 75 minutes, Saturday 13 November - Friday 19 November

Artur Żmijewski's video works present apparently straightforward recordings of constructed social situations. Repetition documents his attempt to re-stage the notorious Stanford Prison Experiment (1971) through which the psychologist Philip Zimbardo attempted to answer the question ‘What happens when you put good people in an evil place?’ Recruiting a group of 24 male students to spend up to two weeks in a mock prison set up in the basement of Stanford University's Psychology Department, Zimbardo observed that participants randomly assigned the role of ‘guard’ became increasingly sadistic, humiliating their ‘prisoners’ who, in turn, submitted to their abusive treatment with many displaying signs of severe stress. He was forced to end the project after only six days on ethical grounds. Żmijewski's version took place in another specially-designed prison, this time in Warsaw, with 17 unemployed Polish men who were each paid a participation fee of forty dollars a day. The resulting documentary video follows their journey down an incendiary path towards a similarly abrupt ending.

Artur Żmijewski will also be presenting Democracies (2009 - ongoing) at Tramway in Glasgow from 29 October - 12 December 2010.

Frederick Wiseman: Primate (1974) 105 minutes, Saturday 20 November - Friday 26 November

Since the mid 1960s, the veteran filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has scrutinised America's social institutions - from schools and hospitals to police departments and asylums for the criminally insane - through documentary films disseminated primarily through public access television. Primate records the Yerkes Primate Research Center's analyses of the physical and mental development of primates, including scientist's use of invasive behaviour manipulation technologies. The analytic black and white footage captures graphic scenes to which Wiseman's only contribution is deft editing.

It is essentially about one set of primates who have power, using it against another who haven't... Wiseman found no Frankensteins during his apparently very amicable visit to the centre; just nice people adding to the sum of human knowledge by subtracting from the sum of humanity itself. Derek Malcolm, The Guardian

The Ethics of the Encounter

November 22, 2010 - Interesting talks, by Bettina Steinbrügge, Phil Collins, Jan-Peter Hammer and Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson in Firenze. And some screenings, too.



In response to 21st century changes, artists have shown an increasing interest in art’s documentary possibilities. Cinema is thus used as the perfect narrative instrument to understand, narrate and communicate political and social events to which they bear witness.

Among the participants: Bettina Steinbrügge, author of the book The Need to Document (Zurich, 2005, with Vit Havranek and Sabine Schaschl-Cooper), the artists Phil Collins, Jan-Peter Hammer and Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson. Conducted by Silvia Lucchesi.

Giovedì 25 novembre 2010
• ore 19:00, In collegamento Skype con Renzo Martens.

September 7, 2010 : Kadist Art Foundation, Betonsalon, The Public School: Séminaire 12 gestures avec pour invité l’artiste Renzo Martens...


"Renzo Martens est un artiste hollandais. En 2003 il a amorcé la réalisation d’un triptyque de films : Enjoy Poverty. Il questionne avec ce travail son rapport aux images de guerre et de pauvreté à travers le prisme de son identité d’homme blanc occidental.
Episode 1 se déroule en Tchétchénie, durant la guerre face aux Russes. Martens s’y rend seul, en toute illégalité, et décide non pas d’interroger les différents protagonistes du conflit (réfugiés, travailleurs humanitaires, rebelles...) sur leur situation personnelle mais plutôt de leur demander comment, de leur point de vue, lui (Renzo) se sent. Ainsi le film ne s’intéresse pas à des phénomènes extérieurs, mais interroge au contraire les conditions de l’existence personnelle du réalisateur et des spectateurs en posant les limites de la notion d’humanisme. Jusqu’où peut-on comprendre l’autre?
Episode 2 n’a jamais vu le jour.
Episode 3 prend place au Congo. Le constat y est simple : l’aide au développement rapporte plus de capitaux au pays que n’importe quelle autre ressource. Dès lors, pourquoi ne pas envisager la pauvreté comme une matière première? Poussant rationalité et logique capitaliste à leur paroxysme, aux confins de l’absurde et du cynisme, Renzo Martens entreprend de monter un tout nouveau programme d’émancipation. Pas question ici d’enseigner les techniques permettant de creuser un puits ou d’irriguer un champ, le blanc décide plutôt d’apprendre à un groupe de villageois comment photographier la misère alentour. Un cliché de cadavre ou d’enfant sous-alimenté rapportant mille fois plus qu’une bête photographie de mariage, le calcul est vite fait. Mais le business reste jusqu’ici la chasse gardée des occidentaux, vrais propriétaires de la pauvreté. Au cours d’ateliers, la population locale est donc encouragée à ne pas lutter contre la misère mais à l’embrasser, afin d’en cueillir elle aussi les fruits. Dans d’autres régions où la pauvreté n’a pas de valeur marchande, les autochtones sont poussés à accepter leur sort, cette fois parce que l’on n’y changera rien. Face à une situation en apparence totalement bloquée, dans laquelle tout le monde ou presque semble trouver son compte (habitants des pays occidentaux, responsables politiques et économiques, organisations humanitaires...) en dépit d’une indignation de façade, les Africains ont-ils d’autres choix que d’accepter leur condition misérable? Lucides, ne devraient-ils pas plutôt se faire une raison?" Extrait d’un entretien avec Sabine Noble et Mathieu Chausseron
Le séminaire 12 Gestures s’inscrit dans le cadre d’une discussion entre le projet The Public School mené par Bétonsalon depuis septembre 2009 et un projet mené par la fondation Kadist, qui réunit les branches philanthropique et artistique de la fondation sous forme de collaboration et de production. Conçu comme une série d’interventions sur une année, ce séminaire portera sur des pratiques artistiques qui se développent en relation étroite avec un contexte et/ou une communauté ; d’interroger ce que l’on qualifie de ‘pratiques sociales’ dans le champ de l’art. Ce sont autant d’expériences dans lesquelles le rôle de l’artiste, du commissaire, du centre d’art, sont remis en cause au delà de l’exposition, et où l’artiste est amené à travailler de manière collaborative, processuelle et discursive en empruntant parfois ses méthodologies à différentes disciplines. On préfère ici le terme ‘geste’ à celui d’action’, car ces pratiques sont bien souvent modestes et locales, elles ne prétendent pas changer les choses mais visent à s’inscrire justement dans la complexité d’une société en prenant en compte des subjectivités, en soulevant des questions politiques, c’est à dire en « révélant la présence, derrière une situation donnée, de forces qui étaient jusque là cachées. » (Bruno Latour, Changer de société, refaire de la sociologie).


November, 5, 2010 - CPHDox, Copenhagen: 'One of the decade's most important and controversial films'.



Who owns poverty? The Dutch artist Renzo Martens is on an artistic mission in Congo. He wants to make the impoverished inhabitants aware of what he thinks is their primary economic resource: poverty. During his two-year journey, he meets both UN peacekeepers who are busy protecting the country's gold mines, and international photographers who make a living selling pictures of dead bodies and starving children. The artist has brought along an enormous neon sign which shines in the midst of all the grim prospects. The sign says: 'Enjoy Poverty'. Martens's film is a highly controversial, but also nuanced and self-reflective 'j'accuse' against media-transmitted neo-colonialism, which the film itself is a part of.

The screening on 8 November is followed by a panel debate about the 'poverty industry' with:

- Linda Polman, Dutch journalist and author of books including 'War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times'
- Lisa Ann Richey, professor of international development studies at Roskilde University, and about to release the book 'Brand Aid. Shopping Well to save the World.'
- Vivianna Nyros, programme and fund worker, Médecins Sans Frontières

festival CPH Dox

September, 9, 2010 - “Do we all have strength enough to endure the misfortunes of others?”, a conversation about Renzo Martens’ film Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, with Jennifer Allen, Felix Ensslin, Renzo Martens, Ana Teixeira Pinto and Dieter Roelstraete.'


All this at Salon Populaire, Berlin. A video of the event should follow sometime soon.

Salon Populaire

June 2010 - Contrary to the 'promise' made in the film, Episode 3 screens in Kinshasa.


In several screenings, at the Halle de la Gombe, at the Centre Wallonie - Bruxelles, organised by the 'Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg' in Brussels, the screenings finally disclose the discrepancies it all may be about. In Congo, people are well aware of the production process of films on Congo. But not of the results, as films such get screened in Europe, not in there lieu of production. And so, contrary to the reactions in Europe or North America, people hardly see anything abnormal in the film. Yes, this is how films are made. What causes despair, however, is a confirmation of the limits in the mandate of NGO's, journalists, artists and enterpreneurs. TV 7 then decides to air the film and that's that.

July, 6, 2010 - The excellent 'Antiperiodismo', curated by Thomas Keenan and Carles Guerra at 'La Vireinna' in Barcelona shows seminal works by Susan Meiselas, Ariella Azoulay, Eyal Weizman and Hito Steyerl. And then, surprise!, Episode 3, too.


Photojournalism is in the midst of a remarkable, and singularly unexpected, renaissance. New practices, strategies, viewpoints, techniques, and agents have radically transformed the institutions and the fundamental concepts of the field.

While it has become fashionable to lament the death of photojournalism, actual events suggest that something quite different is taking place. New ways of reporting the news, new imaginations of what the news might be, have challenged the hegemonic figure of the photojournalist at its core -- and given birth to the most interesting ideas.

An upheaval has occurred at once within the field -- the exhaustion of an old paradigm and its displacement by new ones -- and from without, where different images, and different kinds of images, have ruined the absolute authority of the old ways. These critical approaches -- at once ethical, political, social, aesthetic, theoretical, even epistemological -- which we call, following Allan Sekula, "antiphotojournalism," themselves have a history and a multiplicity of forms, which is what we present here.

Classically, photojournalism has been governed by a number of tropes: the heroic figure of the photographer, the economy of access to the event (getting "close enough," as Capa famously said), the iconic image, the value of 'the real' and its faithful representation in the picture, the mission of reporting the truth and conveying it to a faraway public, and often a commitment to a sort of advocacy or at least a bearing witness to terrible events.

Antiphotojournalism names a systematic critique of these cliches, and a complex set of counter-proposals. It names a profound and passionate fidelity to the image, too, an image unleashed from the demands of this tradition and freed to ask other questions, make other claims, tell other stories.

Sometimes the gesture is reflective, self-reflective -- what are we photographers doing here, what do we assume, how do we work, what do we expect and what is expected of us? Sometimes the desire is evidentiary -- not in the old sense of simply offering the 'evidence' of images to an assumedly homogenous public opinion, but in much more precise way: photographs have become evidence in war crimes tribunals. Sometimes the innovation is technological, whether it involves working with the hi-tech resources of advanced satellite imagery or the low-tech crowd-sourcing of participatory protest imaging. Sometimes the practices are archival, even bordering on the fetishistic.
And sometimes the question is simply whether we even need images at all.


June 2010 - This summer, Episode 3 opens at the 6th Berlin Biennial, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and in Kunsthaus Graz...


Kunsthaus Graz


... in shows curated by Kathrin Rhomberg, Adam Budak and Jelle Bouwhuis. In Amsterdam, the piece is projected from its original base: the raft that served as Martens' mobile production unit in the Congo.

June, 2, 2010 - Episode 3 at Tate Modern, with T.J. Demos and Tamar Garb, both of UCL's Department of Art History. One day prior to that, Alfredo Cramerotti joins Martens in a conversation at Nottingham Contemporary.


Dutch artist Renzo Martens's provocative film Episode 3 - 'Enjoy Poverty' (2009, 90 min) critically investigates the representation of Congolese poverty by pressuring the contradictions of humanitarianism, photojournalism, and concerned contemporary art. The film asks 'who owns poverty?' and examines the ethics and economics surrounding images of post-colonial suffering. Following the screening, at Tate Modern, Martens will be joined in conversation by T.J. Demos and Tamar Garb, both of UCL's Department of Art History. Sponsored by Wilkinson Gallery, London.

Tate Modern

The Hopelessness of Contemporary Art: The Case of Renzo Martens’ Episode III, with Thomas Keenan, Carles Guerra, Toma-Muteba Luntumbue, T.J. Demos and Hilde Van Gelder.


The Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography is pleased to announce:

An international symposium organized by T.J. Demos (University College London), Hilde Van Gelder (KULeuven) and Dieter Lesage (Erasmushogeschool Brussels), to be held on 21 May 2010 at The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KV AB).

Speakers: Renzo Martens (artist, Brussels/New York), Thomas Keenan (Director, Human Rights Project and Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Bard College, New York), Carles Guerra (director, La Virreina, Barcelona), Toma-Muteba Luntumbue (artist and curator, Brussels/Kinshasa). Moderators: T.J. Demos and Hilde Van Gelder.
Program: 10.00-11.30 a.m. Screening of Renzo Martens' Episode III 11.30 a.m.-1.00 p.m. Lunch break 1.00 p.m. Welcome by VLAC-director Prof. em. Marc De Mey 1.00-3.00 p.m. Symposium 3.00-4.00 p.m. Wine reception

This symposium questions what hope can be offered by contemporary art in relation to political change when it concerns dire situations that appear as otherwise hopeless. It takes as its case study the 2008 film Episode III: Enjoy Poverty by Renzo Martens, 2010 recipient of the prestigious Culture Prize of the Flemish Community. An interdisciplinary gathering of distinguished speakers will examine the film’s investigation of the imaging of Congolese poverty, considering how it pressures the contradictions of humanitarianism, photojournalism, and concerned contemporary art. If the film poses the vexing question 'who owns images of poverty?', we will examine the ethics and economics surrounding representations of post-colonial suffering. The symposium will analyze the aesthetic and political implications of this provocative film, asking as well whether the claims for art’s political effectiveness have become all too complacent in recent curatorial, art- critical, and political writing. If so, can the critical exposure of art’s hopelessness, or at least its ambiguity regarding politics, represent a source of hope, distinct from despair?

The Hopelessness of Contemporary Art