If you walk into an exhibition displaying a crumpled piece of wrapping paper jumbled with sellotape, an ancient Parker pen, or tangled wire taken from a Chinese lantern, none of which are owned by anyone famous or used for anything important, you know where you are — at the Museum of Ordinary Objects. “What really excites me is how the human brain automatically makes associations and builds ideas when they view an object, without even being told anything,” says Choiti Ghosh, one of the organisers of the temporary museum in Mumbai. “The stories we create are keys to understanding our minds,” she adds.
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Sananda Mukhopadhyaya, who runs Extension Arts, an initiative that works with objects and visual arts, got the idea when she thought about the showcases people have in their homes where they place items important to them. What if, she thought, she and her friends put up an exhibition in their housing colony where each resident could display a few things? It would be a great way to understand and even touch each others’ lives. With the help of Ghosh, the founder of object theatre company Tram Arts Trust, and Karan Talwar, who owns Harkat Studios, the intended exhibition grew into a museum.
Ghosh, who is fascinated by the power of objects, says, “Every person will be familiar with any object, even if they haven’t seen it before, because most are universal. At the same time, each viewer will get triggered by something different about the object, and read a different story in it.” No one is sure of the exact numbers, but the Museum is estimated to have hundreds of items.
Most of them were collected by the three organisers. “We are all hoarders in a private capacity,” says Ghosh. Viewers are welcome to bring their own items for the display, too. People can also take certain colour-coded items back home. However, all the objects are anonymous. “It has to be, because we want them to resonate with everyone. We would like the viewer to use the object as an active point to step into their conscious, like a portal,” adds Ghosh.
There are two types of objects on display. Some items will have detailed, fleshed out stories, to help the viewer visualise the background of the object, such as the Gandhi glasses which Ghosh’s best friend gifted her, after the latter read The Story of My Experiments with Truth. But others, like the statue of a bride dancing in the arms of a decapitated groom, will give just the merest hint of their story. “This allows the audience to imagine the object’s life. The more you hold back, the more the viewers can involve themselves,” says Ghosh, adding, “Besides, an object isn’t interesting just because it has an interesting story. Its placement or individual appeal can also make it exciting.”
The showcase is on at Harkat Studios, Bungalow #75, Aram Nagar 2, Versova, on April 16-17. Contact: 9820361835