The Assembly around Disassembly {Eindhoven – 2012}

This is a performative intervention done in the center of Eindhoven the 10th of November. Inspired on the essay From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik (or How to Make Things Public) from Bruno Latour, I wanted to show how peoples’ skills would be triggered when confronted to the disassembled object, in this case the bike, re-enacting what would have been a normal scene 20 years ago: repairing your vehicle in the street and receiving help from people. Somehow, we need to be confronted to the complexity of the object to realize its thingness and to assemble around it; it brings the matters of concern to the center of the discussion!

In Europe, the industrialization processes brought the skilling of its population. Most of the people were involved with the production of things they would after use. There was a direct relation of the people with their things. With post-industrialization, and most skilled workers migrating towards the service industry, these skills are being lost and some people, instead of having a direct connection to what they possess, they have it with the place they buy it.

For this intervention, instead of repairing bikes, I decided to disassemble my own, display it, write a sign asking for people to help me assemble it back (deliberately chosen word) and trigger the reflection and the sharing of skills that have been passive, but are still present in Dutch people. The toolbox was also made in a way that it would all be visible in its disassembly.


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I was not very sure what to expect from this action, for it had become more complex when I let the time pass by without doing it. When I finally did it, I was impressed of the amount of people that helped me out to build by bike back together. But the thing that stroke me the most, was the conversations that this activity triggered: it proved my initial assertion that by presenting the disassemble object, the matter of concern would be brought to the center of debate (in this case, the matter of concern was the loss of skills). Again, I should reflect on a big loss from this action: the most valuable product of it, was the conversations with the people that helped me, which could constitute a project in itself.

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