New York City, NY
Creating sculptures with cacao as a primary material, the artists that comprise the CATPC are plantation workers who harvest primary material for international companies. In the Congo, as elsewhere, plantation workers are grossly underpaid for their contribution to global industry, whether to the $100 billion chocolate industry or to the production of palm oil, broadly used in common household products. The Congolese plantation laborers cannot actually afford to live off of the wages they receive for their work and survive without basic amenities such as clean water and electricity. By using material sourced from cacao plantations worldwide instead to make artworks, the members of CATPC can occupy another place in the global value chain, one normally reserved for middle class artists.
Many of the sculptures created by CATPC members are future, present, and ancestral self-representations, and take up symbolic figures such as the art collector. First molded from clay, then 3D printed and cast in chocolate, the sculptures are made in collaborative settings and the materials used refer back to and overwrite the exploitative economics of global trade. The CATPC reinvests profits in new, self-owned, and regulated agricultural production provoking questions about the division between those who should work on plantations and those who are allowed to reflect on this, about the inherent value of art and its market, and challenging art?s potential as a tool for broader social change.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.