To repair a garment and keep it in active service is to practice the skill of user-ship. It calls upon human senses to diagnose what needs to be done and the right emotional tone to carry it through. Stitching, darning, patching and remodelling oversee a subtle shift in the power relations associated with garments: for the work of mending, unlike the world of production, is about people not machines.
Mending and minding
"The shirt that came out of a project by my student Katherine Soucie. She was taking second hand clothing and re-purposing them, sort of manipulating them so that they would have traces of the processes that she likes. In this particular one, I think she added rust and she soaped it with different metals and got these spots on it.
Then the cardigan… the original garment which was purely black [and] was made a friend of mine Tally. She gave it to me in 1994… and I wore it for a while but then it became a little frumpy and I don’t know… but I like the fact that it was kind of two sided and it had some really nice buttons. So the same designer who made the shirt, was having a mending wall where you [leave items you want repaired]. So I put this on the wall and she modified it. …At first it was process of like mourning the old one but then I started imagining it with the clothes I normally wear, and started to think that, oh yeah, I could wear this… I love the word mending and it is so close to the word minding, you know, full of mind of what we do with our clothes."
Vancouver - January 2013
Photograph by Jeremy Calhoun
+ More views from this story