Renzo Martens
Enjoy Poverty

July 19 2015

I first became aware of Renzo Martens at the 6th Berlin Biennial in 2010. Since then he’s one of the most significant artists to me.

While I was stoked after watching Episode 3: Enjoy Poverty, I was seriously surprised by the anger the film provoked in other viewers. Martens crosses many lines that’s for sure but his intensions are for real. He just adapts the means to the end, rigorously.

Renzo Martens’ Episode 3: Enjoy Poverty is one of the most provocative films that have been circulating the art world since its release in 2009. The film has become a trigger for a much-heated debate around issues of agency, ethics, and so-called ‘aesthetic journalism’. In Enjoy Poverty the filmmaker himself takes on the role of the investigative reporter who sets out to explore the heart of darkness of sensationalist media journalism in today’s Democratic Republic of Congo. Martens turns the logics of aid on its head and re-defines poverty not as a lack, but a main resource. In various meetings with rural workers and displaced communities, the artist suggests that to indulge in the suffering, to ‘enjoy poverty’ rather than trying to overcome it, is the way out of the illusionary narrative of ‘development’.

Martens initiated The Institute for Human Activities (IHA), which is located in the Congolese interior. It aims to mobilizes the modalities of art production and seeks to acknowledge the economic mechanisms through which art has the greatest impact on social reality.

Short TV report on Episode 3: Enjoy Poverty

Trailer Episode 3: Enjoy Poverty