inspiration     Sep 29 2009

Reair Mon Frere

Mapos LLC

Like any notable movement, the Great Restart of 2008-09 has given us many trends: large and small; serious and frivoulous; dull and riveting; depressing and, well, funny. Sure we have been affected in ways that tested our very existence, but one lesson learned around the halls at Mapos is to keep an optimistic perspective of the forces around us. If we didn’t see the laughable absurdity in the machinations on Wall Street, or the many smaller (and exponentially less serious) trends that pop up like internet celebrities after a heavy rain, we would have lost our marbles long ago. Humor helps. Pass it on.
Maybe it’s the self-fulfilling social world of New York City that we live in that has given us so many memorable gems. Hey, it’s the worst downturn in 70 years, so let’s celebrate the frugal recessionistas, enjoy our staycations, recycle, reuse, and repair. It’s good for the wallet, great for the planet, and can earn you valuable social capital on Facebook and even, dare I say, in real-life. In his column this past Sunday, Rob Walker jumped on the band wagon and showcased an entrepeneurial designer who champions reuse and helps others realize their hidden potential in recycling. Umbrellas into skirts. Boxes into wallets. Film canisters into room dividers. On Governor’s Island last weekend, the Dutch art group Platform21 produced a performative version of their “Repair Manifesto.” Workshops and installations included the visitor in creative acts of reuse and repair via points like, “make your products live longer!” and, “repaired things are unique.”
Don’t get me wrong, we’re big proponents of reuse, and more, not tapping new resources when alternatives exist. The examples in the Times and out on Governor’s Island are smart, efficient, and beautiful. With thought and care, lemons can be made into lemonade and even a lemon tart. But admit it. It is a funny turn of events when recycling your shirt into curtains and mending your own socks becomes trend-worthy.

There’s an installation at MoMA by the artist Song Dong. He literally unpacked his mother’s house in rural China and laid it on the floor of the museum. His mother saw value in everything. Her livlihood depended on it. Her hardscrabble life was pieced together with objects of necessity now organized into high art. I’m sure she never heard of Martha and Oprah and the popular rise of knitting in the US. You can pay $20 and visit.