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What’s Happening in the Mending Project
LEE MINGWEI: Hello. My name is Lee Mingwei. What you’re going to see in ICA, is called ‘The Mending Project.’ For me repairing a piece of clothing is really about repairing my second skin. We know there are quite a few things that are broken in the world; it could be about politics it could be about relationships between strangers, or just between our family members. So let’s start with something that is close to us, which is our second skin.
What I’m doing is actually very visible mending, quite different from invisible mending, trying to hide the tear on the clothing. So when I use colorful thread to repair the clothing, I wanted to use thread to celebrate that personal history, whatever that is.
People often will just sit in front of the mender. And watching the stranger repair their clothes with such care and love; and inevitably very personal stories will come out from the person who brought this piece of clothing to be mended. It will usually take about half an hour to finish the repair. Of course they can bring it with them when they leave the gallery. Sometimes I would say ‘if you don’t mind may I borrow this mended clothing for the duration of the show? And please come back to receive it when the show’s over.’
Interacting with this Space
LEE MINGWEI: The Mending Project is situated on the top floor of the amazing building designed by Stephen Holl. And when I started installing this show, I realized the light interacts really beautifully: cascading down from the window, onto the thread, the table, and onto the mender, him or herself, is really a very inspiring space for the project. The thread connecting the spool, to the clothing; if it’s just one or two you could really not see anything there. But when it’s in hundreds and sometimes thousands, it becomes a very very striking visual effect. Once you spotted one, then you start seeing the other hundreds, so for me it’s about the delicate but strong connection between each of the strangers who brought the piece of clothing to be mended.