Renzo Martens: The Institute for Human Activities

stedelijk|special event

May 26, 2013, 4 – 5:30 pm

Location: Teijin Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Language: English

Entrance: Entrance price to Stedelijk Museum + € 2.50

Reservations: It is necessary to make a reservation. Send an e-mail to, stating your full name, e-mail address, telephone number, and the date of the program you want to attend.

In collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, the Stedelijk Museum presents an afternoon devoted to The Institute for Human Activities, a new art institute founded by visual artist and filmmaker Renzo Martens. Martens will give a lecture describing the project in detail and then answer questions from the audience. At the end of the program, Martens will be presented with the Cultural Foundation Documentary Grant, recently awarded to him by the Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation.

There seems to be a gap in the transfer of critical interventionist art between the areas of intervention and the areas where that art is presented to the public. Art can expose the need for political change in Nigeria or Peru, but ultimately it brings beauty, opportunities, and capital to Berlin-Mitte, Amsterdam, or the Lower East Side of New York. This is a gap that parallels the divisions between labor and profit in other globalized sectors. One can regret this phenomenon, but Martens believes that it is precisely the radical acceptance of the conditions and consequences of the production of art that has the potential to forge a more powerful mandate for critical art.

The Institute for Human Activities was established in 2012. It has legal offices in Amsterdam, Brussels, and Kinshasa, a number of reputable institutional partners and advisors, and a dedicated team of artists and scholars; the aim of the institute is to re-assess the critical mandate of art.

The Institute for Human Activities has established a settlement in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 800 kilometers upstream from Kinshasa on the Congo River. Here, in one of the most dysfunctional regions in the world, the Institute has launched its five-year Gentrification Program, mobilizing the modalities of art production in an in vitro experiment. During the course of this project, this will become a place for love, criticism, and transgression.

For more information about ”The Institute for Human Activities”, see

This afternoon is organized in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam and its multi-year “Project 1975.” This project will be continued with the title “Global Collaborations” both in SMBA and in the Stedelijk Museum.

Jelle Bouwhuis, curator at SMBA, will provide an introduction to the event.