Unbroken - the art of repair - update
What started out as a chance encounter with an adjustable spanner wedged into the door of an old car in Havana, has turned into a four year long project (and still counting), currently titled 'unbroken'
From my early images of 'reparación', the repair culture in Cuba, it has morphed into wider discourse on repair and its important role in a more sustainable future. Until the 1960s we had a capability to repair, but the combination of design, manufacturing, consumerism and lack of understanding has led the developed world away from repair to mass consumerism and a throw-away society. That is manifest in the recent issues with plastic in our oceans, but the problem is far greater and less visible when it comes to other 'things'. All things consumer resources, the vast majority of which are during the material extraction, processing and manufacturing steps. Those processes use resources that are largely irreplaceable. Once the thing is no longer needed it usually contributes to the growing mass of waste. Repair is a small, but important, step in response. It results in things lasting longer, so less materials are consumed and less waste created.
But repair is a battle against many forces. Against entropy (nature's continual drive towards chaos and decay), against planned obsolescence (by manufacturers wanting you to buy more) supported by hermetic design (that makes it hard to open) and against bureaucracy (in legal frameworks, regulations and online policies) that inhibit the sale of spares and independent repairing.
The project is in part an attempt to portray those 'heroes' battling those forces. The project now encompasses the ongoing repair cultures in places like Cuba and Ghana (where the skills and inventiveness have not been lost). To the growing movements in Europe to rebuild our capability, through municipal centres such as ReTuna (Sweden) to self-help groups to community organisations such as the Restart Project and the Repair Cafe. The final phase aims to explore those designing for a more sustainable and repairable future, organisations like Islabikes and Fairphone.
The project takes a Solutions Journalism approach, deliberately highlighting the solutions rather than the problem. In doing so, it aims to shine a light on possibilities and make a contribution to the growing repair movement.
As an example, the project has provided images for a news feature in the I newspaper, with an article on repair in the UK.
(Article by Mora Morrison, Saturday December 22nd 2018)
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