‘Curios’ was commonly used for collectibles associated with a value for personal memories – of growing up, relationships, travel, and preciousness- possibly. It came from ‘curiosities’ – why would one person collect an object, when someone else may not value it? Then there is the curiosity behind an object placed in connection with others. For me, it shapes a narrative, a story. In Maker Unknown, objects collected from 1950s-1976 are exhibits that could be handled. All of them come from India and Nepal, and their makers are unknown; anonymous craftspeople, sometimes children too. While the exhibits are dated after Indian Independence, colonial attitudes prevail in the acquisition. If we examine the span of twenty six years is there an accuracy in the provenance? India’s geographical regions define materials and cultural design, and these, for example are overlooked.
Some decades later we create a storyline from the point of view of the object that has travelled and the time and geography it was made. It gives us a fable and a gaze into the popularity and functional use of these objects, importantly what stories that are embedded in the maker making. It attracts attention and curiosity strong enough to be captured. It provokes us to re-examine the narrative about handling culture as memory.
– text by Vayu Naidu