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Chocolate in a new light

Posted at 02/05/16 - 08:30 AM

To mima, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, for the Congolese Plantation Workers' Art League sculptures made of chocolate - though it doesn't look like the chocolate we are familiar with, because it is not shiny.  The artists work on chocolate and palm oil plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for international companies such as Unilever and Feronia (the Canadian company which now owns these plantations).  The plantation workers receive very low wages; meanwhile, the wealthy international companies sponsor high-end art exhibitions in Europe such as the Unilever Series at Tate Modern.

The Congolese Plantation Workers' Art League members create sculptures from clay from a tributary of the Congo river.  The sculptures are 3D scanned, sent digitally to the Netherlands where they are 3D printed, moulds are made and then they are cast in chocolate, from the plantations where the artists work.

The sculptures are exhibited in European art galleries, putting the plantation workers on the same level as established artists.  The sculptures are for sale, with the profits going back to the artists and giving them a much greater income per pound of cocoa bean which they harvest.

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