During the trajectory of this project, which started with a research-creation process in partnership with two local museums, the main challenge that the invited artists faced was the lack of information available about the artworks provenance, the artist(s) who made it, and the processes of making. All artists exercised their artistic agency to breach these difficult challenges, through creating speculative stories that blur the lines between fact and fiction, challenging colonial historical retellings, and piecing together information through their creative imaginations. Here are some of our notes, highlights and reflections on the works:

Plants/Natural Life

kaya joan’s and denirée isabel’s works attempt to creatively trace the lives of plant materials employed to make their selected museum items, a floral embroidered fragment and a bark cloth respectively. By reconnecting with the natural resources, in this case the plants that made possible their creation, they reveal the interconnection between humans, the more-than-human and objects. In their video, kaya speculates about the indigo plant used to produce the dye in one of the embroidery thread hues. By collaging internet AI generated images and historical facts, kaya gives voice to indigo as a smart being conscious of its existence and impact in human relations, particularly its connection to the transatlantic slave trade and extractivism. On the other hand, denirée’s interactive map intertwines her own personal story of her ancestral makeup from her Ancestry DNA test, with that of the possible trees the cloth’s bark may have come from, tracing both the artist and the cloth’s roots back to the Venezuelan landscape. denirée invites viewers to click on different map locations, read, and play audio clips of family memories. Through these digital pieces, the personhood of plants is exposed and reactivated on the textile items.


A way to generate bridges across times is to imagine possible pasts or futures, those yet untold stories. Lan “Florence” Yee’s work employs speculative fiction to explore the journey of a cut sleeve from a Chinese garment. Along Lan’s video, the sleeve narrates the story of its changing owners and the places it has been. With a satirical tone and imagery, but without lack of tenderness, Lan clashes facts with fiction to give visibility to overlapping and erased stories of queerness and diasporic experiences. With a different but also playful approach, Habiba El-Sayed’s video game prototypes reproduce an earthenware house effigy from Jalisco, Mexico. With this work she speculates on the kind of worlds inside each of its four chambers, while experimenting with potentially meaningful and respectful ways to engage with cultural items from a culture different from one’s own. Habiba inserts themes of love and community, food and generational recipes, storytelling, music and celebration to speculate about how this game could be played, a proposal to counteract mainstream games of war and exploration that tend to reverberate a colonial mindset.


Kendra Yee’s work follows the history of a contemporary ceramic drawstring bag made by artist Marilyn Levine, which appears on the artist’s 2005 website in a list of missing artworks the artist sought to find and that coincidentally, Kendra found in the Gardiner Museum’s collection. She retells the story of the object through two gifs, demonstrating the object’s appearance on both websites, and through a ceramic tile she made that tells the story through images. Juan Pablo Hernandez Gutierrez’s video work overlaps a 3D printing file code with a three-dimensional render of a Quimbaya terracotta earthenware object from the Gardiner Museum’s collection, speaking to practices of imitation, counterfeiting, bootlegging and 'guaqueria' (looting) already present in his artistic practice. Through a QR code, he freely shares the 3D printing code, creating a public resource for recreation of the object, opening up the possibility for cloning the object and somehow, teleporting it to its original lands. Shaheer Zazai aims to subtract the attachment and stereotype of war and violence from his home country of Afghanistan’s international image through investigating the 35 “war rugs” from the Textile Museum collection, a collection which retells the history of the Afghan war from a North American perspective. By removing war imagery, he pieces together new rug designs in the form of four digital collages that only leave behind gardens and plant life that follow the oldest traditions of rug-making in Afghanistan.

Piecing Together

Khadija invites viewers to literally piece together a puzzle made up of detailed images of kashmiri or Tilikar shawls from the collection, and as the puzzle image comes together, words reveal information about the process of weaving these shawls and the intricate labour of weavers that came together to make these. In this way, the artist demystifies much of the information the public is unable to gather from viewing these weavings from the museum’s collection.


Chiedza Pasipanodya’s and Paola Torres Nuñez del Prado’s pieces use sound to activate their selected collection items and as a means to connect with ancestry across time. The first, speculates about a ceramic Luo pipehead, imagining the breathing sounds of its user when smoking from it, resembling a musical instrument. Pasipanodya created a musical notation to illustrate this breathing, connecting this sound to the breath of life that animates cultural items and the intergenerational connection with ancestors through their usage. The former, created an iteration of an Andean waraca (sling), turning it into an interface for sound making. When this textile is used –agitating it in the air to through stones as a defense device– it emits the reproduction of a natural soundscape followed by the chants and clamor of protests recorded in the 2022-2023 manifestations in Peru; sounds that collide to make a political statement, reminding us of ancestral technologies and social fights, repeated over time.


Mending the Museum (2023)
Workshop Series:
   Narrative Charm
   Blackout Poetry
   Play it Forward
   Cloning and Paper Clay


About the Collective
Members of the Collective

Mending the Museum is a collaborative duo comprised of Karina Román Justo and Camila Salcedo. Together, their intent is to work as a bridge between artists, communities, regional museums, and craft objects from their collections, to reflect on ancestry and speculative futures within the framework of cultural belonging.

For all inquires, please email mendingthemuseum@gmail.com

Brand identity, website design and development by Natasha Whyte-Gray, 2023.