TIMES ART CENTER BERLIN x ABOUT A WORKER
Times Art Center Berlin is excited to present the outcome of a new collaboration: Masks by Tailor Lê. These individually designed masks, made by tailor Lê and his co-workers in Berlin, reflect a unique dialogue between the German-Vietnamese tailor and Chinese-French artist Kim Hou. For her project ABOUT A WORKER, Hou worked remotely, during the coronavirus pandemic, with Times Art Center Berlin and tailor Lê to create three hundred handmade face masks.
Masks by Tailor Lê highlights the presence of the German-Vietnamese community to Berlin’s social fabric. With a long history of multiple waves of migration to both East and West Germany in the period after the Vietnam War, Vietnamese immigrants—a high percentage of which are self-employed and self-made business owners—have significantly contributed to the city’s creative energy and independent entrepreneurial culture. Based on the idea of giving artistic agency to workers and craftsmen, the joint project between Hou and tailor Lê reflects Times Art Center Berlin’s effort to foster new collaborative and local models of creative production.
“I am not worried about the future. People always need tailoring.”
Tailor Lê, born in Vietnam, arrived in Berlin in the last year of the GDR in 1988. Originally trained as an engineer in Vietnam, he has owned a restaurant and worked in the food sector and wholesale markets in Berlin for many years, before opening his successful tailor shop on Danziger Strasse six years ago. He learned the craft of tailoring early on in his life, as his mother was a seamstress.
ABOUT A WORKER
“COVID-19 keeps exposing the weaknesses of our globalised system. In a time, when our material needs are debatable, our global population should take this opportunity to meet and value the people willing to continue working for their territory(ies) and surrounding(s).’’ –Kim Hou
Founded in 2017 by Kim Hou (Creative Director) and Paul Boulenger, ABOUT A WORKER is a design studio giving manufacturing workers the ability to become designers. Through an introduction to creative expression, workers design products inspired by their vision of the industry and personal stories, using design as a universal language. ABOUT A WORKER’s creations question connect workers, designers, consumers in order to transform their context inclusively. Graduated in 2017 from the Design Academy of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Kim Hou created ABOUT A WORKER as her graduation project: a platform to rethink the design industry of tomorrow. Through its complementarity with Kim’s artistic vision, Paul Boulenger has joined ABOUT A WORKER in 2017. Paul focuses on garment production methods by exploring current working conditions.