History in a Handbag- a Journey - Part III


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The boats have traveled across the sea, they have washed ashore broken and tattered, they have been rescued from the rocks, prepared, and sent with a purpose to Berlin, Germany. The third portion of the mimycri journey explores the transformation of these boats into bags.

Sensing and Feeling

When the boxes are opened, the Mediterranean comes crashing into the Berlin workshop. The powerful smell of seawater beams and washes over the space.

As material is unpacked and organized, the workshop is painted with the spectrum of colors- each from a different boat from a different journey made. The grooves on the material show wear from turbulent storms weathered. The handles protrude reminding that human hands held tight for safety. This material tells the stories of people in flight, newcomers to a new land, seeking a new home.

The process is only just beginning--the material is here but it has a bright future ahead: it will make its way through the expert hands of tailors Abid and Khaldoun.

The rubber will be cleaned, dried, measured, turned, measured again, cut, folded, and sewn. Corners will be made, straps attached, zippers secured all with precision and intent.

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A Story in Every Stitch

Each rubber boats is transformed from what once was a vessel of hope and fear into a usable functional and provocative product. The hands that work the material into the bags are experienced restorers, as they themselves have rebuilt their lives. Khaldoun and Abid’s work of refashioning the rubber material into bags exhibits the opportunity to revive and renew parts of life that are often disposed of.

This part of the mimycri journey, though industrial, is an artistic endeavor. This is where the magic of storytelling takes form. In the mimycri workshop, history is being preserved and told. The bags tell stories of people arriving newly to Europe full of dreams, ambition and skills. Choosing to design products that can be used on a regular basis means that there is a daily reminder and invitation to participate in contributing to a more inclusive, hopeful society.

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This is a process of stitching restorative meaning into material that has journeyed far across the world to honor and celebrate newcomers. It is a daily creative exercise to evolve perspectives and focus not on what is lost but what is gained.


Photo Credits to Judith Affolter

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