July 29, 2014 - Human Activities - Congolese Plantation Workers Art League, Van Abbemuseum collection presentation, and Critical Curriculum
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July 29, 2014

Congolese Plantation Workers Art League, Van Abbemuseum collection presentation, and Critical Curriculum

John Baldessari sings Sol LeWitt, 2014. Installation view, Van Abbemuseum collection presentation at the Institute for Human Activities, Democratic Republic of Congo, 2014 .

Upcoming programming
August 5–14, 2014

Undisclosed Location
Democratic Republic of Congo

www.humanactivities.org

Since 2012, the Institute for Human Activities (IHA) has worked on what it called ‘A Gentrifcation 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 settlement. It also confiscated artworks in which children of plantation workers expressed their vision of the future, made in workshops led by Israeli therapist Rony Berger. IHA was forced to leave its settlement 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 will further explore how art that is fully engaged with the globalized conditions of its own functioning can make more profound claims on reality.

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, IHA will exhibit 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. This meeting will take place in a structure designed by NYC-based artist Liam Gillick.

The Van Abbemuseum Collection presentation and inaugural League meeting coincide with IHA’s Critical Curriculum, a series of workshops led by Kinshasa-based artists Mega Mingiedi, Eleonore 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 labour into more lucrative post-Fordist affective labour.

The Institute for Human Activities asserts that even when art critically engages with global inequalities and examines its own entanglements with unsavory labour conditions around the globe, it ultimately brings beauty, jobs, and opportunity to places like the Lower East Side in New York and Berlin – Mitte. To counteract this situation, IHA aims to make critique profitable in those places that provide artistic content, thus recalibrating art’s critical mandate.

Presentations and exhibitions
IHA’s recent exhibitions include the 7th Berlin Biennial; 9 Artists, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (traveled to MIT List Visual Art Center, Cambridge, US); A Capital Accumulation Program, The Box Gallery, Los Angeles; and Arte Útil, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Presentations were held at Tate Modern, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; WIELS, Brussels; Hebbel Am Ufer, Berlin; and Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.

The Institute for Human Activities is generously supported by Mondrian Fund (Amsterdam), Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (Amsterdam), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Prince Claus Fund (Amsterdam), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Akademie der Künste der Welt (Cologne) and Museum de Hallen (Haarlem). The Institute for Human Activities is a research project at KASK – University College Ghent. IHA’s Artistic Director Renzo Martens has been appointed for a three-year residency at Yale University (New Haven).


The Institute for Human Activities announces Congolese Plantation Workers Art League, Van Abbemuseum collection presentation, and Critical Curriculum
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