Monthly Archives: January 2009

Use Me

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Matchboxes From The Subcontinent

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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.

The first one I came across featured an illustration of a killer whale with a caption that read ‘dolphin’. I found this inaccuracy quite amusing. Aside from being great designs, these matchboxes seemed quite random and they made me smile.

In my travels across India I have collected over 450 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 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.

See the full collection here.