For years I am an enthusiast researcher and promoter of the act of repair. Starting in 2009 with initiating the project Platform21 = Repairing and co-writing the Repair Manifesto. The response to this manifesto was overwhelming, it received worldwide recognition and it is, was translated in many languages. The main objective of the project and the manifesto was to reposition repair as a more sustainable alternative than recycling to the throwaway society. We also stimulated repair as a creative, innovative and activist activity and not just as a quick fix. The exhibition became a meeting place and repair studio for visitors with repair questions and visitors with repair skills. Together they would repair, hack, up-cycle or transform the broken product, while designers and artists would bring new repair techniques on to the table.
Once you promote an idea that you believe in strongly, the best thing that can happen is that others take it a step further. This happened when Platform21 had to close down its doors and Martine Postma, a regular visitor of the Repair project, was inspired to continue the repair lab and she started the first Repair Café in Amsterdam. Now it is a volunteer organisation with 1450 repair café’s worldwide.
Throughout the following years, working as an independent curator, I have given several lectures and workshops on repair or provided a platform for repairing. In the meantime I started to become interested in a broader perspective on the values of a repair cultures. Together with designer Cynthia Hathaway and design researcher Gabrielle Oropallo I wrote a proposal for the Istanbul Biennale in 2015 around the question ‘What would society look like of repair is central in thinking and doing?’ It was the beginning of Repair Society, a travelling fieldwork, research and dialogue platform that connects repair to all sorts of issues in society from all kinds of different professions and cultures.
Imagine a society built on improvisation, imperfection, resilience, differences, and care. Would it be a society based on reflexive action rather than rushing forward?