Renzo Martens: from ‘Enjoy Poverty’ to ‘White Cube’

Has anything changed after a decade?

Programme editor
Rokhaya Seck
Yoeri Albrecht
English and Dutch
Twelve years after his ground-breaking documentary Episode III: Enjoy Poverty (2008), artist Renzo Martens premieres a new film called White Cube in which he followed Congolese plantation workers who built a museum on a former Unilever plantation to buy back their own land. During this event Martens, the involved Congolese artists and other contemporary thinkers will discuss the major themes of his work; exploitation, the responsibility of multinationals and the solutions in the art world. 

Note: the film White Cube will not be screened during this event. Do you wish to see the movie? Visit De Balie Cinema from November 26 onwards. Keep an eye on the showtimes in our cinema agenda to reserve your ticket(s). For those who cannot or prefer not to visit public spaces, you can can also watch the film online at home via Picl!

About Enjoy Poverty (2008)

Investigating the economic value of one of the Democratic Republic Congo’s most lucrative export product, poverty, Renzo Martens’ provocative film Episode III: Enjoy Poverty (2008) remains a landmark intervention into debates about contemporary art’s relationship to exploitative economies. In a two year journey in plantations and battlefields, Martens carried around a neon sign that read ‘Enjoy poverty’.

About White Cube (2020)

Visitors to the temples of modern art in major Western cities will be familiar with the white cube gallery space. But when one arises in the middle of a Congolese palm oil plantation, the effect is deeply disorienting. This Congolese arts center is part of artist Renzo Martens’s unorthodox plan to jump-start the local economy. Former workers at the plantation make sculptures that are reproduced in chocolate, and then exhibited in New York. The Congolese people, most of whom earn a dollar or less a day, use the profits from this successful exhibition to buy back the land confiscated from them by Unilever.


Renzo MartensArtist and filmmaker
Irene KangaArtist
Cedart TamasalaArtist
Ama van Dantzig
Alphonse MuambiLobbyist en schrijver
Luciana Téllez-ChávezHRW-researcher
Critique in Practice: Renzo Martens‘ “Episode III: Enjoy Poverty” (2019)