For Free Repair, the artist will employ five local workers who will join him as he fixes broken things in the public spaces of San José – from street signs, lights, and benches to playground equipment and potholes, anything is fair game. Repairs will depend on the city’s residents, who can report broken things via WhatsApp to the number +506 8722-7287.
Instead of occupying Despacio’s exhibition space, Roos will use a local workshop as a center for his repairs and a meeting point for workers and participants. Free Repair seeks to go beyond the visual, focusing on the relationships that art can reveal and create between individuals and the places they live in.
Once something has been fixed, a before and after picture will be sold as a single edition to art collectors for USD $100, which is the average price of a repair based on local material and labor costs (USD $10 per hour). While the first round of repairs will be covered by the exhibition budget, ensuing repairs will solely be funded by the photographs sold.
In this way, the project’s repairs form the basis of a potentially endless system – one that can stay running until everything in the city has been fixed, until there is no more demand for the photographs, or until the workers lay down their tools.
Roos’ project flips the script on the practice of outsourcing – one of Costa Rica’s biggest industries – which sees companies using cheaper labor costs abroad to reap the benefits, and profits, in their own countries. Here, however, the benefits are found where they are needed, and the profits coming from abroad have changed the direction they would typically be moving in.
Roland Roos, born in 1974, studied art in Zurich and Chicago. He lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland. Roland has most recently exhibited at the Pavillon Le Corbusier in Zurich, and has had solo exhibitions at the Art Museum of Lucerne, F+F School for Art and Media Design Zurich, and the Art Museum of Olten. In 2014, Roland was awarded the Manor Art Prize.
This project has never been realized. It was originally conceived for Despacio, but for logistical reasons was unable to take place in December 2018.
Just like authors have unpublished novels in their drawers, every curator has exhibition ideas stashed away in secret folders on their MacBook Pro or scribbled in half-empty notebooks, from quiet performances to wild nights out and everything in between. In an effort to give old ideas new life, Random Institute regularly releases some of these failed or unrealized projects online. Some weren’t ripe yet, some were flat out rejected, and some just didn’t make any sense at all. But each of them brought us new ideas, and we hope they’ll find their home or catch some digital flâneur’s eye here on the world wide web.