The aesthetics of mending appear in both art and fashion as a celebration of imperfection and personal history. For a new generation of artists and designers, recycled materials, dead stock, and sophisticated mending techniques are fuelling the creation of valuable narratives and ornamentation, giving new life to clothes and providing fertile ground for new aesthetic expression.
The new experimental group show Beautiful Repair, opening this week at the leading centre of modern art, Copenhagen Contemporary, is curated by museum director Marie Laurberg in partnership with Nordic talent incubator ALPHA’s director Ane Lynge-Jorlén. It’s big and experimental, showcasing spectacular, tactile works unfolding the visual and material vocabulary of a new creative generation. The goal is also to spark a conversation about the importance of craft and resources, pointing to the need for care in our relationship to objects, materials, and the planet’s resources.
The participating creators show the exchange between fashion design and fine art and include domestic names like Marie Sloth Rousing, Kristine Sehested-Blad, Rasmus Myrup, and Anna Clarisse Holck Wæhrens, Idaliina Friman (Finland), Minna Palmqvist and Beatrice Stenmark (Sweden), and Bror August Vestbø from Norway. Another participant, the Finnish designer Elina Heilanen, creates exciting fashion with stylistic inspiration from the Renaissance and outerwear aesthetics. Her textiles are dead-stock materials hand-printed with marbling effects, dyed by various processes and held together by drawstring details making the clothes adjustable and perpetually alterable.
Beautiful Repair also presents The Mending Project, a large-scale, participatory artwork by Lee Mingwei, which invites visitors to bring in a piece of clothing in need of mending and share a personal story of what it means to them. Over the course of the exhibition, Mingwei and a staff of volunteers trained by the artist will repair the garments in a unique way, incorporating the personal history and the related memories. The garment is connected to the installation via the thread used to repair it, as the work is augmented with piles of clothes and personal histories, showing how sustainability ties into creativity, craft, and aesthetic expression.