Interview: Back for good: the fine art of repairing broken things

Aya Haidar: ‘It was about filling in these voids with something colourful and joyful.’ Photograph: Roo Lewis/The ObserverThe new right to repair law will push manufacturers to reduce obsolescence. But artists and activists are already challenging the way we reuse and reimagine broken objects.

Aya Haidar - visual artist shot at her home for OM

When Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1932, he portrayed a society in which the importance of discarding old clothes was whispered into the ears of sleeping children (“Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches”) – so vital was the imperative to drive consumption of the new. He set his novel 600 years into the future, but later suggested that its “horror may be upon us within a single century”. He wasn’t far off.

Product life spans are getting shorter – one UK-based fashion company advises buyers to work to quality standards that assume a dress will stay in its owner’s wardrobe for less than five weeks.

And it’s not just clothes: household appliances can be cheaper to replace than repair, with spare parts often available only if harvested from retired machines. Something as simple as a depleted battery frequently spells the end for today’s hermetically sealed electronic devices, and even attempting a repair can render warranties invalid.

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