MIF23: Economics The Blockbuster – It’s not Business as Usual at the Whitworth

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Members and regular pickers of Company Drinks, a community - driven drinks business, forage for hawthorns at Eastbrookend Country Park in Dagenham, East London/Essex. Photo courtesy of Company Drinks

Economics The Blockbuster at The Whitworth, Manchester 30 June — 22 October 2023 Entrance is free — Visit now

The Whitworth present their contribution to this year’s Manchester International Festival: Economics the Blockbuster – It’s not Business as Usual.

Described as an event that creates ideas for other ways of being, Economics The Blockbuster closely examines the idea of economic systems via the lens and use of art. The exhibition is a selection of art projects that actually operate as real-world economic systems. When brought together as one display, they are a proposal for new ways of thinking about business led by the needs and concerns of communities, rather than solely by profit.

Economics the Blockbuster brings together many organisations and artists groups from around the world: Association de Arte Útil, Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) and Renzo Martens, Company Drinks, Goldin+Senneby, Kathrin Böhm and Kuba Szreder (Centre for Plausible Economies), lumbung Kios, Owen Griffiths and Alessandra Saviotti, Rosalie Schweiker, The Alternative School of Economics and Tŷ Pawb.

CATPC members (from left) Olele Mulela Mabamba, Huguette Kilembi, Mbuku Kimpala, Jeremie Mabiala, Jean Kawata, Irene Kanga, Ced’art Tamasala and Matthieu Kasiama, still from White Cube, Renzo Martens, © Human Activities, 2020
CATPC members (from left) Olele Mulela Mabamba, Huguette Kilembi, Mbuku Kimpala, Jeremie Mabiala, Jean Kawata, Irene Kanga, Ced’art Tamasala and Matthieu Kasiama, still from White Cube, Renzo Martens, © Human Activities, 2020

 

Let’s take a look at some of the ‘unusual business’ art projects that viewers can expect. Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (The Congolese Plantation Workers Art League CATP) – is a cooperative of plantation workers based in Democratic Republic of Congo. Founded in 2014, the group have been making art and using any income to purchase ancestral lands once confiscated by Unilever and its subsidiaries. The result is the reclamation of 120 hectares of land, which has now been recultivated to be used by the community.

Company Drinks is a project that draws on local heritage of working class families in East London who worked in hop-picking, remembered by many as a temporary matriarchy when women came and worked together. The idea was reginited in 2014 with the invitation to go hop-picking once more, this time with a much more diverse community and with the idea that everything gathered would be kept by the community as well. These days, Company Drinks gathers over 1200 people, who produce an annual range of 20,000 drinks sold locally for £1 and in central London for £3.

These examples prove that economies include various things, from exchanging gifts to caring for others and making activities sustainable but in these cases, always with the local community in mind – something that has been missing for a very long time from the global-scale economies we’re familiar with

Economics The Blockbuster shows that things can be done differently and that social relationships must be taken into account whenever there are finances involved. The exhibition includes new commissions, merchandise, business collaborations and a live programme of events.

Economics The Blockbuster at The Whitworth, Manchester 30 June — 22 October 2023 Entrance is free Visit now

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