Lee Mingwei’s “Declaration” at Institute for Contemporary Art, Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA, USA

21st April 2018

Until 9 September 2018

The Mending Project, 2009–2018

Visitors are invited to participate in The Mending Project by bringing a textile that needs mending. During the time it takes to mend the item, the visitor, and a volunteer sit together and talk. Once mended, the visitor may take the item or leave it at the ICA for the duration of the exhibition as part of this growing, visible network of small moments of connection and repair.

For more than 20 years, Lee has created projects like this one that frame one-to-one interaction and draw attention to the beauty and layered meanings within an everyday activity. To Lee, everyone has a story and he is curious to learn of these stories, especially from strangers. It’s a continuous search of an encounter, of learning about the differences and similarities of people, including their complexities and beauty.

“The gesture of mending for me has different levels of meaning. The most obvious is that a piece of clothing is broken and needs repair. It could also be in a completely different kind of conversation about how the world is today. There are so many things that are broken in the world now, with politics, the climate, relationships between people, between countries. Can we do something about it? I know I am just an artist and all I can do at this moment is something close to me. So let me start with our second skin: the clothes that we are wearing.” —Lee Mingwei

Unlike a tailor, who is trying to hide the fact that the fabric was once damaged, Lee Mingwei’s mending is done with the idea of celebrating the repair and the history of this textile article—as if to say, “something good was done here, a gift was given, this fabric is even better than before.”