Launch of Lusanga Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality and “The Matter of Critique” conference

Launch of Lusanga Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality and “The Matter of Critique” conference

Human Activities

Mathieu Kasiama, Résistance. Drawing. CATPC 2016.

September 22, 2016
Launch of Lusanga Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality and “The Matter of Critique” conference

September 22–24, 2016

Lusanga Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality 
DR Congo

Institute for Human Activities 
Postbus 17031
1001 JA Amsterdam
The Netherlands


The Congolese minister of tourism and culture Elvis Mutiri Wa Bashara will lay the first stone of the Lusanga Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality (LIRCAEI) on September 22. The ceremony will coincide with the kickoff of the third edition of the international conference series “The Matter of Critique,” organised on the site of the future research center. 

The launch of LIRCAEI marks a unique moment in history. At the research centre, critically engaged art about inequality will not merely stimulate further gentrification and economic development in London, Venice or New York, but will help generate inclusive economic growth in one of the most disenfranchised places on earth. The research center will bring improved housing and infrastructure to local habitants, as the centre aims to reverse gentrification processes that marginalize local inhabitants. Within a few years, the property of 20 hectares will be handed over to the people of Lusanga.

LIRCAEI is the initiative of Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) and Institute for Human Activities (IHA). The CATPC is an expanding art collective co-founded in 2014, that creates sculptures using cacao as a primary material. The artists that comprise the CATPC are plantation workers who harvest primary material for international export.

In close collaboration, the CATPC and OMA’s managing partner-architect David Gianotten designed the LIRCAEI masterplan. This plan allows the research centre to grow organically in the local environment by combining new activities (discourse, production, view) and basic functions (nature, experience, life) in an evolving grid, which encompasses the existing infrastructures and habitat.

The project aims to place labourers trapped at the bottom rung of global value chains at the centre of debates around art and inequality, by developing a platform to make their voices heard and thus gain agency both in and outside of the art world. The research centre is dedicated to resolving the division between critical debates and their economic impact, and to redressing the current underlying inequalities.

On the occasion of the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Research Centre, the third edition of the international conference series “The Matter of Critique” will be taking place. “The Matter of Critique” gathers artists, academic thinkers, architects, economists and local diviners to further strategize opportunities for critical artistic engagement, in order to attract capital to the disenfranchised reality with which it is engaged.

From September 22 through 24, the conference The Matter of Critique” will turn the former Unilever plantation into a lively setting for addressing the compelling question: how can artistic engagement with global inequality bring sustainable economic growth to one of the most disenfranchised places in the world?

The conference is open to the public.
Admission is free; a fee will be charged for lodging and meals.

Participants include: Ariella Azoulay (Brown University, Providence), Eva Barois De Caevel (curatrice, Paris), Filip De Boeck (KU Leuven), Cécile Fromont (University of Chicago), Erick Kassongo (Centre congolais pour le développement durable), Bruno Lapika (UNIKIN, Kinshasa), Suhail Malik (Goldsmiths, London), Renzo Martens (KASK School of Arts, Gand; IHA ), Edmond Mayambo (ISP Kikwit), Elikia M’Bokolo (EHESS, Paris), Jean-François Mombia (RIAO-RDC), René Ngongo (CATPC, Lusanga), Katrien Pype (University of Birmingham, KU Leuven), Sarah Van Beurden (Ohio University).

An accompanying exhibition will feature works by Sammy Baloji, CATPC, Carsten Höller, Jean Katambayi, and Luc Tuymans.

“The Matter of Critique” is organised by Edmond Mayambo (Institut Supérieur Kikwit), Katrien Pype (KU Leuven, Congo Research Network), the Institute for Human Activities and Renzo Martens (KASK – School of Arts, Ghent), the CATPC and René Ngongo.

It is supported by the Art of Impact, Gieskes-Strijbis Fund, KASK / School of Arts, Ghent, Mondriaan Fund, VLIR UOS / KU Leuven.



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Human Activities
September 22, 2016

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