Versova studio turns into a museum for ordinary objects

  • Arundhati Chatterjee, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2016 17:25 IST
Karan Talwar, Choiti Ghosh and Sananda Mukhopadhyaya showcase some of the ordinary objects (Photo: Aalok Soni/HT)

Is there a story behind the fountain pen you used as a kid? Or a postcard you bought on a Europe trip? Share yours, and discover others’ at an art studio this weekend

Aaram Nagar in Versova is in a state of constant change. In just recent times, a production house has replaced a food joint, while a dance studio is trying its luck where an art gallery stood. Naturally, it took us longer than we expected to find Harkat Studios; but it was worth the search. The quaint and colourful bungalow is set to be converted into a museum — the Museum of Ordinary Objects.

This weekend, the 850 sqft space will showcase over a hundred ordinary objects — some new and functional, some old and defunct. Art, or a garage sale, you ask? The art, we’re promised, is in the stories and anecdotes that come with the objects on display.

“From the starting point to the end, the stories will keep getting less detailed, and the ones at the end will have no anecdotes at all. We will also have empty slots where visitors can place their own objects with memories. It is to engage the audience in the process of storytelling through objects,” explains Karan Talwar, co-founder of the project.

Read: Exclusive: Behind Dharavi’s museum on wheels

The initiative is championed by three artists — Talwar (30), Choiti Ghosh (36), and Sananda Mukhopadhyaya (28). It may be new in India, but they concede the idea “isn’t completely original”. Similar projects have happened across the world. “In Germany, the tourism board, instead of packing all ‘lost’ items in lost-and-found boxes, put up a full-blown exhibition of the objects that travelled across the world,” says Talwar.

Gandhi glasses: “My best friend gifted these to me on my birthday. I had read My Experiments With Truth. I lost them.”

Ghosh also talks about a similar show in Orleans County, Vermont, USA, where the organisers have put up a collection of a hundred different shoes — stilettos, flip-flops, boots — among other objects; most of them collected from local residents. “It’s a permanent exhibition called The Museum of Everyday Life. It aims to showcase socio-economic disparity across the city. The image works as a trigger. When you see a tattered pair of shoes next to a new pair of stilettos, you start imagining how they ended up there,” explains Ghosh, who specialises in object theatre, and has been putting up shows since 2012.

A sizeable number of objects have been in the trio’s homes for ages. One of the oldest items will be Talwar’s Parker Pen set dating back to 1949. The box includes Parker 51 — a vaccumatic filler fountain pen and ball pen in brown hard leather case: “My great grandfather went by the name of Mahatma Anand Swami and ran a newspaper called The Daily Milap. My mother gave me this set as I intended to become a writer myself. It never worked. I ordered various original parts from Japan and America. It still doesn’t work.”

Mukhopadhyaya believes objects are the biggest unifiers of society. “For instance, we have this ordinary pair of glares. Everybody invariably has one, but nobody generally notices it. It’s as much a personal belonging as it is a universal commodity. This talks about the times we live in. The point of having the exhibition is to say that nothing is really ordinary, to make people notice what they live with day in and day out,” she says.


Attend the Museum of Ordinary Objects on April 16 and 17, between 10am and 9pm
At: Harkat Studios, Bungalow no 75, Aaram Nagar, Versova.
Entry: Free

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