Enjoy poverty

Director: Renzo Martens
Duration: 1 h 30 min


In Enjoy Poverty Renzo Martens records the life of the residents of the Democratic Republic of Congo (a former Belgian colony), a country that is trying to overcome the total anarchy brought on by civil war and wars with the neighbouring countries. According to Martens, it is in the interest of many organisations, both financial and charitable ones alike, to preserve poverty there. It is also to the advantage of press photographers who profit on images of corpses and starving children.
In the film poverty is shown to be Africa's greatest natural resource. Martens sets up a neon sign flashing "Enjoy Poverty" in the middle of the jungle and tries to convince people to learn how to take advantage of their situation. His actions become more and more ambiguous – it is not clear whether he too does not want satisfy his own selfish needs under the guise of providing assistance. He says: "there are two Renzo Martens' in the film: first there is Renzo Martens the artist and second Renzo Martens the consumer. … I am both the observer and the perpetrator of the African's exploitation. I can never be the saviour or the emancipator because I am defined by the structures and institutions that exploit in the first place. … The one with the camera will always exploit because of the power relations inherent to taking, distributing and selling images."

director: Renzo Martens
production: Martens Menselijke Activiteiten, Inti Films