After centuries of exploitative imperialism the West woke up with the very best intentions. International humanitarian assistance is claimed to be growing slowly, legislations and economical models are challenged, the art world is, perhaps, more engaged than ever. And yet, global inequality has never been bigger.
Artist Renzo Martens, anthropologist Anke Tonnaer, tourism developer and historian Theo van de Laar and master Creative Industries Jeroen Popelier will talk about this paradox.
In his controversial and groundbreaking 2008 film Enjoy Poverty Renzo Martens claimed poverty to be one of Africa’s most lucrative export products: many people make a fortune out of a greater many people’s misery. According to Martens, humanitarian aid organizations, media, artists, galleries and so forth all suffer from the same internal contradiction: they critique inequality while reinforcing it. In 2020 Martens brought out White Cube, in which he tries to rethink the functioning of the art world by engaging local communities in the Congo.
Both films trigger fundamental questions about our 21st-century societies and the way they deal with inequality. In what ways has the Congo’s poverty become a commodity, and who is consuming and benefiting from it? In view of the time passed between both films: what has changed in this regard and what not? Is it possible to reshape the art world so that it can actually bring a change? What does an art work do that exposes dynamics of inequality? In what ways are the spectators (both art consumers and dealers) implicated in them? What role can irony or even sarcasm play to mobilize audiences?
We are very pleased to welcome Renzo Martens in Nijmegen, where he will talk with Anke Tonnaer, Theo van de Laar and Jeroen Popelier. Evidently the audience will get the opportunity to ask questions as well.
Renzo Martens is a Dutch artist who explores the relationship between art, capital and humanitarian aid in provocative documentaries. He is the founder of the Institute for Human Activities (IHA).
Anke Tonnaer is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Development Studies at Radboud University. Her research interests include indigenous tourism, heritage and ‘new wilderness’ projects in Europe.
Theo van de Laar is a (post conflict) tourism development specialist. He has been actively involved in community based tourism projects in the Middle East and Central Asia, and believes tourism can be used as an effective tool for development.
Jeroen Popelier holds a master in Creative Industries from the Radboud University. His main topics of interest are contemporary art and culture, usually paired with sustainability and inclusivity. He will host the evening together with Tom Sintobin, Assistant Professor Arts and Culture Studies at Radboud University.