Momentous Times

Group show at CCA Derry-Londonderry, 2013.
With Colin Darke, Aideen Doran, Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Hito Steyerl, Olivia Plender, Raqs Media Collective, Sarah Browne.

Good Luck, All Workers! (Best Wishes to All Workers)

Hand-painted signs in English and Bangla on fabric banner, brass mount, 180 x 80cm approx, 2013

Momentous Times commemorated the centenary of a momentous year for Irish labour activism; strikes for dock, tram, and factory workers from Belfast to Cork, Galway to Limerick, from 1907 to 1913, culminating in the Dublin Lockout.

Good Luck, All Workers results from a period of research into labour conditions in the shirt factories of Derry/Londonderry in the early 20th century, and a month-long residency at Britto Arts Trust, Bangladesh.

The text was translated from English to Bangla, and the signs were hand-painted by a Dhaka sign painter in the style of the political banners that hung throughout the city. ‘Best wishes to all workers’ is the closest approximation in Bangla to the phrase ‘good luck, all workers’. 

The phrase ‘good luck to all workers’ is taken from a popular radio programme from wartime Britain, called ‘Music While You Work’. It was a public radio broadcast of music and songs by the government, specifically for factory workers on the home front. It was hoped that the music would increase productivity by improving the morale, and at the end of each programme the presenter would sign off with the cry ‘Good luck, all workers!’. The phrase has an increased poignancy now, when exploitation of labour is still occurring in Bangladesh and around the world, while maintaining a sense of optimism, of possible solidarity and emancipation.