Objects of Fascination

In one of the modules for the course “Art and Everyday Life”, we examine relations of power informing art and our supposed knowledge of what it should be. Thus, we consider the roles of institutions in forming these systems of defining and knowing art. We look at collecting practices and the motives that inform them. After one or two visits to museums and their collections, discussions then filter to personal collecting habits and the larger systems that shape them. I have had students bring odd ‘collections’ of thermal receipts from dates, and more common ones- of flip-flops (to be worn over half a lifetime because of their number), whimsy shells and coins, rare toys and Barbie dolls! In the first semesters, very few asked me what it is I collect so I volunteered information from my end – I collect shoes and drop earrings. Belatedly, I realized that I was not collecting objects but gathering ‘patterns’ instead! My brand of accumulation (like all else in my life) took a steady, quiet pace. I am consistently drawn to the same patterns of foliage imperceptibly sewn together by geometric shapes and undulating lines. Arabesques fascinate me because they are embodiments of seamless coherence. They marry geometry and nature in fascinating order. They condense the contradictions between the minimal and the elaborate in one, comprehensible order.Let me consider the orbit of my work desk to make sense of the collecting habit. These were bought over a period of five years and I always choose the patterns in seas of gold, canary, rust or green. Widening the orbit would reveal more of the same pattern, consistent silhouettes and the persistent color scheme.

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