Human Activities

Renzo Martens, White Cube (still). © Human Activities, 2020.

Human Activities wants to prove that art can redress economic inequality, not symbolically, but in material terms. Art provides the inspiration and the capital to buy back land and start inclusive, ecological post-plantations.

"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.” —Jason Farago, The New York Times, December 6, 2017

Over the last centuries, plantations have funded the building of many European and American museums, where art provided an opportunity for shareholders to distance themselves from the violence of the plantation system. Still today, rain forests are cut down and turned into plantations, leading to more inequality, degradation of biodiversity and global warming. The value extracted from these plantations is still partially invested in museums in New York, Dakar and Paris, generating wealth in the economy around them, yet leaving depleted landscapes and impoverished people.

Human Activities, uses art to attract visibility, legitimization and capital to the plantation. Its main ally is CATPC, an art collective of Congolese plantation workers that was founded by renowned environmental activist René Ngongo. With the income from its art, CATPC buys back their land.

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