Vienna (A) * 2003 * Anton-Proksch-Institute * 18 weeks

The upcycling workshop gabarage, where former drug users adapt worn-out objects for new uses to sell them in the adjacent shop, was developed to help concerned with their re-integration in the first labor market.

People who have been addicted to narcotics face special challenges when seeking to enter the labor market. After successfully completing therapy, they are still lacking a bridge, a supervised workplace that is fun and helps them attain the self-confidence that permanent stability and new orientation require. However, the hope that a life without drugs can be rewarding is for the most part not fulfilled – at least with regard to working life. Most individuals in this situation have few professional qualifications and almost no work experience. Paired with their characteristically low frustration tolerance this makes a relapse into old patterns of drug abuse likely.

WochenKlausur’s goal in the project was to find a way to bridge this gap. An upcycling workshop named gabarage was created to help people who have completed long-term therapy work creatively for a year and adapt to a structured workplace. Upcycling is the redesigning and marketing of discarded products or worn-out pieces of furniture for a new use.

Initially an appropriate location had to be found for the project, a space that could function as both a workshop and a sales outlet. Eventually a suitable space was found and rented in Vienna’s Schleifmühlgasse. A foreman to manage the workshop and seven people who had completed rehab therapy were hired. Together this team did all the remodeling, including wiring, heating, and sanitary facilities. Then they set up an office, a workshop and a sales floor.

In order to give the participants insight into the practice of upcycling and prepare them for the undertaking, WochenKlausur also organized extended workshops with artists. Contacts made during the group’s 1998 upcycling project in Linz were helpful. As the workshop’s first products took shape, they were immediately offered for sale: vases made of old traffic signal lenses, bags made using office filing systems, rugs made of karate belts and worn-out furniture that had been completely transformed. Additionally, WochenKlausur was able to find initial project partners who were willing to provide the workshop with materials to upcycle.

Every year, a new group of people who have completed therapy are employed by the business. A number of participants have been able to find jobs in the primary sector of the labor market following their employment at gabarage.

Gabriele Cram, Claudia Eipeldauer, Martina Reuter, Wolfgang Zinggl (Konzept: Pascale Jeannée)