CO-CURATOR | WEBSITE DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT | CREATIVE HEAD
Museum of Memories was made possible by the Heritage grant given to Sandbox Collective by British Council. The project was conceived as a virtual museum that would bring together perspectives on heritage viewed through the lens of gender, from women and individuals of minoritised genders in the 18-25 age group.
© Museum of Memories
"...We as curators recognised that although there might be similar threads in our explorations beyond the masc-dominant, patriarchal narratives that the historical canon has followed, there was no one experience (or twelve experiences) that could speak for the collective. So we set out primarily to seek perspectives, of minoritised genders and sexual identities. This project is not a history lesson on heritage, but a repository of stories that look forwards and backwards at once, trying to place themselves in larger narratives to make sense of themselves..."
When we posted the open call, we had emphasized on contributors submitting an idea, in any shape or form, which might fit in the museum. Once the submissions poured in we realized there were various interpretations and executions of ideas through mediums including but not limited to paintings, films, poetry, renders, photographs from photo albums to objects passed down and so on. As we started the curation process, we realized there were ideas that the three of us were interested in, so we largely looked at works which explored the themes of domestic and non-domestic spheres, mental health, selective inheritance and intergenerational forces, in both tangible and intangible forms. Thus, the culmination of these personal experiences is voiced through the works of 12 contributors selected.
Each of the twelve contributions is an exploration of personal experiences that have shaped understandings of heritage. However, as curators we noticed some common threads - intergenerational forces, mental well-being, marriage, to name a few. We did try to place varying perspectives on similar ideas next to each other in our flow.
For instance, Bidisha Mahapatra's piece recounts a conversation with her grandmother about the experience of an early marriage, and how the lens of a present-day feminist may not do justice to the nuances of that personal experience. On the other hand, Neer Sihag uses the motif of gold jewellery (and its significance in a woman's status in her marriage) to explore the experiences that followed when her mother broke away from those conventional patterns.
Another interesting thing that emerged is the intersection of gender and art. Aditya Vikram touches upon their experience of Kathak having nestled their queerness, while for Lakshmi Ramesh, her musicality is a heritage that she later encountered gendered expectations within.
Going digital takes out the intimidations that are almost unavoidable at a physical space, be it in the application process or while showcasing a piece of art. It enables a distinct way of engaging with art, which is reciprocal and customisable for each artist.
“Initially, there was a thought that someday the offerings of the museum will be opened for people to come and experience them in an actual space. But after having those multiple virtual meet-ups and constant discourse, we realised that there are more avenues that we can explore digitally,” says Aakriti, who is an architect by training and currently pursuing photography. She has also designed the Museum of Memories website.
“Taking on the role of a curator at such a young age and sifting through the works of talented artists was an exciting and enlightening experience. But it also changed our perception of how things are envisioned for a gallery display; how curating doesn’t always need to be a heady process. Things can be interpreted in a way that is easy on the eyes and is more interactive,” she sums up.
- exert from the interview with Reema Gowalla