What is the Radical Repair Workshop?
The Radical Repair Workshop is a pop-up art experience housed inside a vintage 1966 Frolic camper. The project encourages participants and viewers to consider their relationship to mending, sentimental objects, single-use items, and radical (potentially non-functional) modes of repair.
Inside the Radical Repair Workshop camper, there is a functional art studio, a gallery of repaired items, and space for hands-on workshops and information sessions. Items that have been donated by the public or scavenged by Julia are taken in, assessed, and “repaired” in a manner aligning to their history.
The “repairs” these items undergo may be technically non-functional or “productive” but they relate to a sculptural investigation of the object’s story, level of decay, and psychic/emotional energy. The approach to mending will be non-traditional—your item may not actually be “fixed,” but it will be transformed into a permanent art object, thus realigning our relationship to its “value.” The repaired items join the archive of the Radical Repair Workshop, along with their story, to be shared with future audiences along the journey of the project.
“This project that challenges participants to consider what is reusable, what is sentimental, what ‘broken’ really means, and to connect with an object or material on physical and granular levels.”Julia Gartrell
When the Radical Repair Workshop is on site, you will be able to step inside the camper to explore the gallery and studio, contribute your own items for mending, and explore repair techniques through demonstrations and samples. The Radical Repair Workshop will teach concrete skills, such as sewing and darning, but also explore abstract notions of repair.
Julia is a queer artist interested in an anti-capitalist approach to the art object, and hopes that the Radical Repair Workshop encourages participants to accept “failure” as an actual form of success (as described by Judith Halberstam in The Queer Art of Failure). The repairs will take cues from Gartrell’s research into the creativity cultivated when resources are limited, such as in models of creative reuse and the escape of functional fixedness found in the face of hardship.
Modes of mending will vary depending on the item, but the Radical Repair Workshop will be fully stocked with both traditional and non-traditional mending supplies ranging from string, tape, glue, and hardware to clay, dust, organic materials, and psychic energy. Results may be fleeting, ephemeral, or more permanent in nature, depending on the item being “repaired.” The project is alive and evolving, and the public will shape its course.
The Radical Repair Workshop is supported by arts organizations as well as individuals. The project has received grants or other financial support from:
- Archie Green Fellowship (American Folklife Center, Library of Congress)
- Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Sculpture + Extended Media (Adjunct Art Grant)
- The Durham Arts Council (Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Grant)
- Downtown Durham, Inc. (Public Space Project Grant)
- Duke University Rubenstein Center for the Arts (Visiting Artist Grant)
<3 Special Thanks <3 to Bec Conrad and Katy Clune!