Wheel of Fortune, Maarten Vanden Eynde in collaboration with Musasa, 2016

Ongoing since 2017

Triangular Trade

Experimental research project

Initiated by: Maarten Vanden Eynde

Involved:  Lotte Arndt, Sammy Baloji, Sven Beckert, Alexis Destoop, Marjolijn Dijkman, Femke Herregraven, Alioum Moussa, Peter Pels, Jean Katambayi, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Rosa Spaliviero.

Guests / Participants / Researchers: Christine Chivallon, Helen Elands, Wouter Elsen, Patricia Fara, Remy Jungerman, Karin Lurvinck, Phillippe Mikobi, Eric Vanhaute, Gulda El Magambo, Frank Mukunday & Trésor Tshibangu, Georges Senga, Daddy Tshikaya, Musasa, Raf Custers, Jeroen Cuvelier, Zheng Li.

Partners so far: The National Museum, Lubumbashi (CD); Deltaworkers, New Orleans (US); Z33, House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt (BE); Arts Catalyst (UK); Cargo in Context, Amsterdam (NL), Nona, Mechelen (BE), Picha, Lubumbashi (CD)

Venues so far: Bozar, Brussels (BE), 9th Contour Biennial, Mechelen (BE), Gallery Imane Farès (FR), La Colonie (FR)


Triangular Trade investigates the influence of transport and trade of pivotal materials like rubber, oil, ivory, copper, diamonds, gold, cotton and uranium, but also people, on exponential economic growth, the creation of nations and other power structures. The project traces back the origin of the different materials and follows their (r)evolutionary paths as they are processed and transformed into 'world changing wonders'.

After several research periods for Triangular Trade in D.R. Congo in 2015 and 2016, investigating the historic under-recognised and often forgotten importance and influence of the Kingdom of Kongo (currently D.R. Congo) and it's natural resources on the development of human kind, the Southern United States were included, where materials like cotton, copper and uranium played a leading role in the transatlantic trade.

Early 2017, the project became public by organising two LUNÄ Talks, one in the framework of Performatik 2017 and one in collaboration with Agora, in Bozar, Brussels, about the specific influence of cotton on the distribution of wealth, the expansion of the slave trade, the industrial evolution and the current ecological crisis in relation to GMO cotton, Monsanto monopolies and fast fashion. The Nuclair Culture Project, initiated by Ele Carpenter, in collaboration with Z33 is on the other hand facilitating consequent investigation into the influence of uranium on human civilisation.

In 2018, a long research project called ON-TRADE-OFF was initiated by Picha (Lubumbashi, D.R. Congo) and Enough Room for Space, on invitation of Contour Biennial 9 in Mechelen, Belgium. To be understood as a collective artistic trajectory, the project looks both at the importance of one specific raw material, called lithium, for the transition into a green and fossil fuel free economy, and the influence its extraction and transformation has on everyone and everything involved, ranging from the miners who take the lightest metal in existence out of the ground, to the produced batteries that power cars, homes and potentially the entire planet.

Triangular Trade initiates debates, symposia and research residencies and gatherings resulting in several exhibitions focussing on a wide variety of materials and their particular heritage, and a publication bringing these material matters together. Ultimately the entire project merges old and contemporary stories of trade and colonisation with physical remnants of technological evolution.