The Sculptural Politics of Cacao

Cedrick Tamasala: Untitled, 2016, ink and graphite on paper, 27 1/2 by 39 1/4.COURTESY KOW, BERLIN

In another world, Black artist would be able to create, primarily, for audiences with whom they share a culture. But today, more often than not, they are assimilated into, and made legible within, the Western visual regime. This has certainly been the case for the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League (abbreviated CATPC for the group’s French name, Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise), a collective, established in 2014, of artists and agricultural workers who create sculptures made of chocolate; a number of them are employed on plantations owned by the multinational corporation Unilever, where they grow cacao. Their sculptures are made of material at once ready-at-hand and powerfully symbolic. The specter of the non-native cacao plant’s violent history haunts the region, and also the use of chocolate in CATPC’s work.

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