Jan De Coster: Episode III: Enjoy Poverty

    By Jan De Coster
    Friday 9 February 2024

    Based on a comparison between the films “Enjoy Poverty” and “White Cube” by Renzo Martens, editor Jan De Coster explores how narrative perspective and processes of identification shape the film viewer’s experience.

    When it comes to experience, it often involves distance, “the right distance.” The image should neither be too distant nor too close. There must be sufficient space in the relationship with the viewed image; otherwise, the experience remains elusive.

    In one film, the distance is so small that though the experience is intrusive, the viewer, however, is a prisoner of the image.
    In the other film, the narrative point of view is less tight, the distance greater, but the involvement less.
    It looks like one film aims to change the viewer, the other the world.

    “Enjoy Poverty” (Renzo Martens, 2008) is a study on the political stances of contemporary Western art, often celebrated but often at the expense of another form of exploitation. Martens criticizes this aspect of contemporary art by repeating the process. The film does not take a clear stance against injustice and exploitation; instead, it unfolds as a point of criticism in itself and refers solely to itself.

    “White Cube” depicts the relationship between Western art museums and the violence of the plantation system. Many museums are built with profits extracted from plantations. In “White Cube,” Congolese plantation workers set a new precedent. They manage to use the concept of the ‘white cube’ to buy back their land from international plantation companies and secure it for future generations.

    “Episode III: Enjoy Poverty” is discussed.

    After a brief introduction, the film is screened.
    SIC coach Jan De Coster will shed light on the film’s creative process, examining the editing of the film on both macro and micro scale.

    We investigate how the narrative perspective and processes of identification render the viewer captive to the image.

    “White Cube” and a comparison between both films will be discussed in a subsequent collective session.


    Episode 3: Enjoy Poverty

    Directed by Renzo Martens
    Edited by Jan De Coster
    Dramaturgy: Eric Vander Borght
    Producer: Peter Krüger, Inti FIlms

    Episode 3: Enjoy Poverty investigates the emotional and economic values of Africa’s fastest growing and most lucrative export-product: filmed and photographed poverty.

    The film also shows that the poor delivering the raw material, benefit as little from it as from traditional exports as gold, rubber, cacao, petrol. 

    During two years Renzo Martens undertakes an epic journey revealing the system and structures which keep Africa poor. Deep in the interiors of Congo he launches an emancipatory program that helps the poor benefit from ‘their’ poverty.

    Mixing investigative journalism, satire and self-criticism, Episode 3 is ingeniously provocative and surprising, often times ironic and hilarious, but the mirror he holds up to us is inevitably sad.

    Practical Information

    Date: Friday 9 February 2024
    Venue: Pianofabriek (rue du Fortstraat 35, 1060 Saint-Gilles)
    Time: 14:00-17:00

    Tickets are free, on registration only (limited space)
    If you would like to attend, please email us at