Episode 3 – ‘Enjoy Poverty’, dir. Renzo Martens, Netherlands 2009, 90 min., Lingala, French & English with English subtitles
In the late 2000s, artist, filmmaker and provocateur Renzo Martens spent two years travelling around the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Camera in hand, he made his way around the country’s poverty-fighting industry, filming UN peacekeepers providing security for an international company on the hunt for gold; white relief workers photographing the recipients of their emergency aid; a landowner looking at photographs of his day labourers, who don’t earn enough to feed their children.
Martens’ implicit conclusions are that poverty is here to stay and ‘fighting it’ is an industry from which the poor draw little benefit – and so he decides to launch a self-styled emancipation programme, teaching the Congolese poor that ‘images of poverty’ are their country's most lucrative natural resource.
Screening alongside Martens’ Episode 1
to coincide with the ICA’s exclusive run of the artist’s new film White Cube
, Episode 3
is sharp, acerbic, penetrating – and the work of a very singular artist.