MMEETS: Australian Premiere: White Cube Past Event

Presented by MPavilion

MPavilion hosts the Australian premiere of White Cube, the Dutch documentary by Renzo Martens that features the architecture studio behind MPavilion Monash, OMA.

White Cube follows the work of Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), a plantation workers’ cooperative based on a former Unilever plantation in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo. From the boardrooms of Unilever, to elite museums and galleries across the world, to the exhausted plantations of The Congo, the film documents the CATPC’s success in ending the destructive system of monoculture on their lands with a combination of art and activism. In moving viewers between the violence of the plantation system and the aesthetic ‘civility’ of the white cube, the film highlights a fundamental question: can museums ever hope to be inclusive when no reparations have yet been paid to the plantation workers who financed—and in some cases continue to finance—the very foundations of these institutions?

David Gianotten

David Gianotten is the Managing Partner – Architect of OMA. He oversees the overall organisational and financial management, business strategy, and growth of OMA in all markets, in addition to his own architectural portfolio. He currently leads the design and construction of Taipei Performing Arts Centre; the masterplan of Rotterdam’s Feyenoord City and the design of the new 63,000-seat Feyenoord Stadium; Amsterdam’s Bajes Kwartier—conversion of a large 1960s prison complex into a new neighborhood with 1,350 apartments; and VDMA—transformation of an unused site with industrial heritage in Eindhoven into a mixed-use urban hub.

David has led the design and realisation of the Prince Plaza Building in Shenzhen (Completed 2020), Potato Head Studios—a resort in Bali (Completed 2020), WA Museum Boola Bardip in Perth (Completed 2019), MPavilion 2017 in Melbourne and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange headquarters (Completed 2013). He was responsible for the end stages of the CCTV headquarters in Beijing (Completed 2012).

David joined OMA in 2008, launched OMA’s Hong Kong office in 2009, and became partner in 2010. He led OMA’s portfolio in the Asia-Pacific region for seven years. In 2015, he returned to the Netherlands to oversee OMA globally as Managing Partner – Architect.

Renzo Martens

Renzo Martens (1973) studied political science and art. He gained international recognition with the films Episode I, and Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, which was televised in more than 23 countries. In 2012, Martens etablished Human Activities and its Gentrification Program in DR Congo. Together with the plantation workers of Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), he uses artistic critique to redress economic inequality — not symbolically, but in material terms. Consequently, they opened an OMA-designed White Cube on a former Unilever plantation in 2017. The work of the CATPC has been shown in a solo exhibition in ScultptureCenter New York, Mori Art in Tokyo, KW Berlin and in the 21st Biennale of Sydney.

White Cube, Martens’ new feature-length documentary film, shows how Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent: they successfully co-opt the concept of the ‘white cube’ to buy back their land from international corporations. The film premiere in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was screened onto the white walls of the museum, and at the IDFA film festival in Amsterdam, The Netherlands this November, before touring globally.

Helen Runting

Helen Runting is an urban planner and architectural theorist (PhD. Arch), based in Stockholm and Melbourne. She is a founding partner of the Swedish architecture office Secretary, and a Research Fellow in Architectural Theories and Critical Design Practices at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include feminist biopolitics, the architecture of the Welfare State, the aesthetics of visualization, and the subjective politics of real estate. She is a co-editor of PLAN (the journal of the Association for Urban Planners in Sweden, 2018-2021) and Stockholmstidningen (an art-based inquiry into urban transformation, 2018-), and of the anthology Architecture and Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies (2017).

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