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On display: burlesque boots, kantha-stitch quilt, cigarette-holder… and a feel of ‘home’

Latest edition of Museum of Ordinary Objects showcases objects that people brought with them as they made Mumbai their home

Written by Alaka Sahani | Mumbai | Published: July 21, 2019 12:40:40 am
museum of ordinary objects mumbai, museum of ordinary objects, mumbai museum, museums in mumbai, harkat studios, harkat studios mumbai, mumbai harkat studios, mumbai news, Indian Express Organisers of the three-day pop-up Museum of Ordinary Objects Choiti Ghosh, Sananda Mukhopadhyaya and Karan Talwar. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

What stands out at the Museum of Ordinary Objects, set up at Mumbai’s Harkat Studios, is a pair of almost burlesque boots. The pair was contributed to the museum by an artist, now in her 50s, who had bought it when she was just 16 and terribly homesick while studying in America.

The boots had perked her up then, and ever since has travelled with her to different places — through America and India, before she settled down in Mumbai some years ago.

“I don’t step out in those boots. But I move around my home wearing them,” the artist says. She has also donated a collection of dolls — gifts from her father — to the museum that will remain live till Sunday.

Conceived by a motley group of enthusiasts, Choiti Ghosh, Sananda Mukhopadhyaya and Karan Talwar, the pop-up museum seeks to explore objects that mean “home” to people.

museum of ordinary objects mumbai, museum of ordinary objects, mumbai museum, museums in mumbai, harkat studios, harkat studios mumbai, mumbai harkat studios, mumbai news, Indian Express Various objects on display at the event at Harkat Studios in Versova. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

“It is hard to ignore that in a city where most residents have come from somewhere else, people have carried with them certain ‘things’ that they are attached to. It is these objects that give them a sense of home,” Mukhopadhyaya says.

Scribbled on tiny paper chits placed next to each item are their stories — how and when they were picked up by their respective owners.

“We have not revealed the identity of those who have donated the objects to this museum. That’s because, even though these objects are personal, they have a certain universality,” Ghosh says.

Ghosh adds, “The museum is going to evolve over the weekend as we will keep receiving and displaying objects till Sunday.”

A chair, on display, says it was picked up from Delhi’s Cottage Emporium along with two beds and other pieces of furniture by a veteran screenwriter, which finally made its way to Mumbai when its owner made the city her home in 1965.

Nearby, is a quilt made of traditional laal paadh (red border) sari with kantha stitch was a hand-down to a theatre actor-director by her grandmother.

museum of ordinary objects mumbai, museum of ordinary objects, mumbai museum, museums in mumbai, harkat studios, harkat studios mumbai, mumbai harkat studios, mumbai news, Indian Express Scribbled on tiny paper chits placed next to each item are their stories — how and when they were picked up by their respective owners. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

Enjoying the spotlight at the show is a beige-and-red traditional cap of a theatre practitioner’s grandfather. His grandfather wore the cap when he came from Gujarat’s Gondal, during the pre-Independence days, to do a recce of Bombay and figure out if the city would be suitable for his family to make it their home.

Another interesting object on display is a slim and long cigarette-holder — a gift to its owner from his girlfriend, who bought it for him during her trip to Korea. The couple had parted their ways soon after, only to come together 12 years later to tie the knot.

The museum also features a rosary, an old audio cassette, photos from a family album, old toys, soup mugs, a pot and kettle, among other things.

A pop-up exhibition is a temporary art event, less formal than a gallery or museum but more formal than private artistic showing of work.

The idea had originated in 2007 in New York City where space for exhibiting artistic work is very limited.

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