“Dutch artist Renzo Martens lives and works in Brussels and Kinshasa and is known for his satirical and disturbing video documentaries in which he travels to war-torn countries and places himself narcissistically at the centre of the action, demonstrating how Western spectators consume distant trauma. In 2012, Martens helped found the Institute for Human Activities and initiated its five-year Gentrification Program. By means of strategic inversion Martens comments on the ways in which Western media depict the non-Western world.
In ‘Episode 3’ Martens travels to the ruined Congo, interviewing photographers, plantation owners and locals; he acts the role of journalist, colonist, modern day missionary and development aid worker. His film focuses on one observation: poverty is Africa’s biggest export product, and, as with other natural resources of the Congo, it is exploited by the West through media. Lecturing locals assertively on ideas of poverty as commodity, he encourages them to sell their own photographs of starvation and death, not let Western photojournalists profit from their humanitarian disaster.”
The main attraction to this room in the exhibition was the smell. A smell I couldn’t distinguish at first but then once the answer of chocolate was the reason it all fell into place. I found it a very unusual smell and an amazement that these forms and heads were chocolate.
The heads and sculptures are very anthropological objects that I can imagine seeing in Oxfords “Pitt Rivers”. As well as the materialistic use I found the subject and context very interesting. Kinshasa, a city I studied in my time at Goldsmiths, basing around the conflict between Kinshasa and Brazzaville and ‘Fleuve Congo’ separating the two cities I found it a very interesting subject to study as well as discovering an article about the Art in the City in National Geographic.
How Artists in Kinshasa work
Freddy Tsimba is a particular artist that stood out for me. Although the context has no relation to my project I feel the physical and mental work he produces is incredibly compelling. His work endless in so much pain and torture for people and women in Kinshasa. His use of fertility, fragility and rusty hard metals is a discomforting presentation. The troubles of having a family in such a disruptive area unveils through Trimba’s work.