Matchboxes from the Subcontinent
Walking around Bangalore city where I live, one comes across matchboxes everywhere. Cheap and disposable, they litter the highways and footpaths, often to be found scattered around any roadside chai stall, cigarette kiosk or dhaba.
In my travels across India I have collected over 600 matchboxes. Each design has come to signify a personal memory. Collectively, the visible scars of the battered boxes tell a story, mapping the places I have been and the experiences I have had.
The visuals that adorn this ongoing collection include historical and religious iconography, Indian pop culture, appropriated western imagery, mundane objects, and various animals. As an outsider, the disparate juxtapositions created through this series of designs have come to encapsulate quite perfectly the heterogeneous and hybrid visual culture of modern India.
The collection is featured in the Creative Review 'Monograph' series.
Articles about this collection can also be read on The Hindu, The Indian Express and the Deccan Herald. In March 2012, a selection of these matchboxes were featured in 'Collections' at Fictilis Gallery, Seattle, USA.