In collaboration with Renzo Martens, a renowned group of plantation workers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) will represent the Netherlands at the 2024 Venice Biennale. The 60th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, will happen from the 20th of April to the 24th of November, 2024.
The Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise is an artist collective from Lusanga (DRC) and it was founded in 2014 in Lusanga. The CATPC, also known as the collective, consists of twenty members. They are famous for creating sculptures made from cacao which is sourced from different plantations throughout the world. According to CATPC, creating art is a sacred activity and art is a living force born of a sacred Earth. The artworks of CATPC have been said to be cathartic containers that both absorb the suffering and evil of colonialism’s ongoing catastrophe while acting as symbols of hope and restoration. The proceeds from the sales of these works have been used to support Congo, with the funds going into reclaiming and transforming former plantations into biodiverse nature and other ventures.
There will be two CATPC’s presentation. It will be opened at the Rietveld Pavilion in Venice and the other presentation will be simultaneously open at the White Cube, the Lusanga art space that Martens and the CATPC operates, in Lusanga, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The two presentations will be directly mirrored and connected.
One of the major themes of the presentation is restitution. In an effort to contribute to the conversation on colonialism in the (international) art community, restitution will be emphasized in a variety of ways.
On the presentation at the 2024 Venice Biennale, Ced’art Tamasala, a member of CATPC, said:
“The opportunity to now pair a white cube on a plantation with one at the summit of the art world allows for a direct look into these two worlds and into the inequalities between them. Meaningful and sincere reflections will be produced from these different, but related, realities coming together. Through this presentation, we will come to the final stage of our collective journey into truths that deserve to be shared.”
This will mark the Netherlands’ comeback to the Giardini, the space where many of the busiest national presentations have been hosted. Last year, the Netherlands turned over its pavilion to Estonia and instead staged its presentation, by the artist Melanie Bonajo, in a deconsecrated 13th-century church far away from the Biennial’s main festivities.