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Letter to Tino Sehgal

A Prior #23-24 / Renzo Martens

© Door to Tino Sehgal’s This Variation at dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel, 2012

Dear Tino,

Just a few days after the opening of documenta13, I was waiting on the banks of a tributary to the Congo River for guests to arrive in the Congo for the opening seminar of the Institute for Human Activities. This seminar took place on the edge of a former Unilever plantation some 800 km upstream from Kinshasa.

Founded in 1911 by Lord Leverhulme, these plantations lie at the basis of the production of Sunlight soap, and form the foundations of Unilevers business empire. Unilever sold the plantations for an undisclosed sum in 2009.

At the time, the wages for a full time job on the plantation were 10 USD per person per month. Thousands upon thousands of these workers have no electricity, no running water, no schools, no sanitation.

As a location for the seminar, the Institute built a bamboo settlement just outside this plantation. Here, our activists, critics and scientists, including Mumbanza Mwa Bawele, Eyal Weizman, TJ Demos,…