The International Celebration of Blasphemy and The Sacred is a presentation by Congolese artist collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) for the Dutch Pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale.


Created in collaboration with artist Renzo Martens and curator Hicham Khalidi, The International Celebration of Blasphemy and The Sacred, a proyect by Congolese artist collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), highlights the group’s endeavor to reclaim the sacred forests of Lusanga, along with their broader mission of spiritual, ethical and economic reckoning. The exhibition is on display simultaneously at the Dutch Pavilion in Venice and in the White Cube in Lusanga (DRC).


For both exhibitions CATPC has created new artworks from earth taken from the last remaining patches of untouched forest surrounding the plantation; their sculptures have subsequently been cast in raw commodity materials extracted from plantations. By using these raw materials, CATPC feels that the sweat and proceeds of plantation labour are transformed from “impure stains into tools for repair”.


Ced’art Tamasala (CATPC): “The goal of the exhibition is to write a scenario in which good contaminates evil and in which problems become solutions. The stories told through these sculptures are intended to generate change as they travel the world. Each sculpture carries the seed that will bring back the Sacred Forest. Ultimately functioning as conduits, these sculptures will allow for a shared equitable future for all humans, making it possible for us to reclaim our stolen lands, to reforest them and to welcome the post-plantation and Sacred Forest.”

The sculpture Balot

Anticipating the simultaneous exhibition in Venice and Lusanga, CATPC requested the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) for the temporary return of Balot, a sculpture held sacred to their community that was made in 1931 to protect them against the plantation regime. VMFA confirmed the loan and Balot returned in March to its country of origin after more than 50 years. Upon its arrival in Lusanga the community reclaimed their ownership of the sculpture and control over its inherent powers through ritual and spiritual means. Only then could it be paraded and triumphantly placed in the White Cube; a museum erected in the former Unilever plantation of Lusanga in 2017. The sculpture is now on public display in the White Cube from April 20 to November 24, 2024, parallel to the Biennale di Venezia. Connected by a live stream, visitors of the Dutch Pavilion in Venice will be able to see the Balot sculpture in the White Cube.


Ced’art Tamasala (CATPC) about Balot: “We at CATPC are part of a new generation of plantation workers that is seeking, proposing and trying to find sustainable answers to the long-standing questions that are the key to the liberation of plantations. It is not enough for museums to decolonize themselves. We, the communities that live and work on the plantations that have involuntarily financed the establishment of museums, must first be able to liberate ourselves. The return of Balot focuses our energy and strengthens our cause. Ultimately, by restoring the balance and correcting past injustices, the return of Balot will allow us to continue to buy back the land that was taken from us by colonial forces, it will enable us to abolish forced and destructive monoculture and to plant, regenerate and nourish back into existence our Sacred Forests.”

The Judgement of the White Cube

In CATPC’s latest, as yet unreleased performance film The Judgement of the White Cube, the White Cube in Lusanga (and all white cube museum spaces across the world) is judged before the community. The White Cube is then sentenced to ask for forgiveness and bring back the land and the ancestral sculpture of Balot.

Related Topics