Hints to WorkmenHints to Workmen

Robin Bhattacharya has been invited to present his work as part of the collective exhibition “Hints to Workmen” at the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sunderland, UK.

Several notes of The ROBIN™ Currency are on display in the form of an explanatory installation. More denominations are available in exchange for other currencies exclusively at the gallery for a short period of time.

Along with The ROBIN™ Currency the artist presents a newer, photograohic work entitled “Raising of the Jolly-Roger on Lake Zürich”. ‘Hints to Workmen’ is the first time this work is presented to the public.

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Hints to Workmen
at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
Sunderland, UK

Exhibition dates: 5 November 2010 – 5 February 2011
Preview: Thursday 4 November 6:00 – 8:00pm


“A few small hints… a few nudges can help a lot… Libertarian paternalists should attempt to steer people’s choices in welfare-promoting directions. ‘Choice architecture’ can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions..” From Nudge, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, 2008

Harun Farocki (Berlin), Peter Watkins (Felletin, France), Gailan Abdullah Ismail(Erbil, Iraq),
Rainer Ganahl (New York), Vinca Petersen (Kent), Stuffit (Bristol), Anna McCarthy (Munich),
Baptiste Debombourg (Paris), Keetra Dean Dixon (New York), Robin Bhattacharya (Zurich),
The Economist, King Mob (London), Misteraitch (Sunderland), The Diggers (San Francisco),
The Open Council

‘Hints to Workmen’ takes its theme from two texts that have aimed to improve the lives of the majority of ordinary working people. ‘Hints to Workmen’ is the title of an educational pamphlet written when capitalism was in crisis – the mid-1840s. Its ideas seem to strangely parallel recent political advertising campaigns, and ‘Nudge’ theory beloved of the current leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. Both ‘Nudge’ and ‘Hints to Workmen’ suggest that “libertarian paternalists” in positions of power should provide their people with “hints” as to how best to live. But whose interests are at stake?

The exhibition offers a sequence of ‘hints’ that international artists suggest will help shape a better world. It brings together documentation of interventions that artists have realised in public spaces, and in the wider public sphere. The works examine the possibilities for new forms of direct action, from politicized forms of play to outright civil disobedience. They range from inventing your own currency to spearheading full-blown protests, to staging absurd events that bewilder the authorities. The exhibition asks us to re-imagine, to use historian Tony Judt’s recent words, what our “collective ideals [are] around which we can gather, around which we can get angry together, around which we can be motivated collectively?”

It begins with a series of bracing and bitterly funny advertising images for major banks from the 1930s, during the last major financial crisis. Surprisingly, they include a campaign by the ‘Church of England Building Society’ selling mortgages to a new class of potential homeowners. These images hint that what define the English are faith, hope and usury: faith in liberty, or else the freedom of the market; and hope for property and prosperity – with both obtained on credit.

Robin Bhattacharya presents two projects. The first is his own personal currency, establishing his autonomy on the international capital markets. The second documents his interventions in the banking centre of Zurich, where he raises the pirate flag, the Jolly Roger, above a private yacht.

LogoNorthern Gallery for Contemporary Art

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art: http://www.ngca.co.uk