Featured artists - CATPC

Congolese Plantation Workers Art League (CATPC)

The Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) was founded in 2014 by workers on a former palm oil plantation in Lusanga, Congo.

This plantation used to belong to Unilever, who took the land and exploited its labourers. CATPC members seek to decolonise their lives through a cooperative, community-based approach to art and agro-forestry. They make, sell, and exhibit art about their situation to earn funds to buy back parcels of their land. They call their land the “post-plantation” and organise shows in their White Cube museum.

Untitled, 2018

This drawing outlines CATPC’s alternative plantation investment model in splendid detail: A giant camera captures a CATPC sculpture made from local clay. The digital files are transferred to Amsterdam for 3D printing in plantation-based materials: palm fat, cacao, and sugar. The sculpture is exhibited or sold, and the money flows back to the artists. The conventional Congo cacao industry is also pictured: cacao/chocolate money moves through the international market to banks across Europe and Asia, with no return to the plantation workers.  


Image: Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Fons Welters

White Cube Lusanga (study), 2020

Each side of the sculpture presents a stage in the history of Lusanga and the artists’ project: the post-plantation. On the left, we view the violent, polluting history of palm oil extraction. To the back, the destruction it left behind: deforestation, land made arid by monoculture, poverty, and famine. Then begins the CATPC initiative: the production of art, and the redemption of the land. At the top, the artists represent sculptures looted during the colonial period and held in museums of the global north.

Image: © Rick Mandoeng