Made in Glasgow


Made in Glasgow

Gallery: Solo Show at Glasgow School of Arts, Glashow, U.K.

Essay Title: Made in Glasgow

Author: Ravikumar Kashi

Year:  2001

Living out of a suitcase in a foreign land makes one acutely aware of the few objects in one’s spartan room. Personal belongings that can fit in a small suitcase are all that one possesses. These bare essential things are in sharp contrast to the luxurious belongings that dot the home. And add to this the frequent trips to the super market to buy, and a new insight is gained into the relation between man-object and the state of possession, as well as that of identity.

Objects have several lives. Starting from the factory and ending in the buyer’s hands, they go through a series of hands. The instant an object passes through the cash counter and comes into the buyer’s hands, it gains a new identity. A mass-produced object becomes a personal possession. It is described as “my shoes”, “my shirt”, “my brush”, “my gloves” and so on. By the association and touch of the owner, it begins a new life. Again when the object is discarded and dumped in a dust bin, it loses this unique identity and is termed as `waste.’ It becomes trash like everything else in that category.

The intermediate space between buying and discarding, the phase of possession, how it alters the character of the object, is interesting. While it is in the possession of the owner, he considers it an extension of his ‘self.’ It is assumed that the choice of the product, its brand and allied qualities, somehow, reflect his personality; though there would be hundreds and possibly thousands of people using similar products from the same brand. Those who use these branded objects, at times, feel that the brand image as shown in the media will rub off on them as well, changing the perception of their personality by others. The object fills an existing lacuna in his personality and turns him into a ‘complete man’

In some cases, this association of man-object actually brings an aura to the object, lifting it from the impersonal anonymity of its earlier life. The clothes and accessories of celebrities are auctioned every now and then to raise funds for some cause or other. These objects have additional worth now that the ‘stars’ have used it. The object becomes a mini-celebrity in its own right and people pay large sums of money to possess them for their fetish value.

In on other instances, where the owner has died, like a famous artist or an author- brushes, tubes and easel, or pen, notebook used by that famous personality would be preserved in a showcase in a dimly lit corner of a museum. The object substitutes his presence and continues the legend.

When I present objects like gloves, shoes and brush as “My shoes”. “My gloves”, “My brush” a similar question can be raised. How much of it is actually mine To what degree the identity of the object is coloured by the association Instead of naming it “My brush” if I identify the work with the title “Van Gogh’s brush” would the significance and value of the object alter drastically What is the relation between the title and the visual . The set of works titled `Desire’ are about the habits of possession/consumption. In our day-to-day life, we see media playing on people’s desires. The patterns of possession/consumption and the subjective nature of what is necessity or luxury are brought into focus. Is the quantity of possession directly proportionate to happiness it can generate.

Again, living in a foreign land also heightens ones sense of identity, upbringing and culture. Metaphorically speaking that little suitcase I carry around not only contains my physical belongings but my entire history. Would a change in citizenship alter that inner status radically When people settle abroad won’t they carry this identikit, their sole possession, with them all along Contrast this to the playful face painting, of favourite nations flag colours, just to express solidarity with that team.

Paper has this fragile quality, which suits the fleeting quality of desire. The frail nature of paper is also in tune with transient desire, as it can change its state, unlike rock, and take a new shape with some effort. And, paper documents views / arguments / events / histories for posterity, knowing fully well it won’t last forever.


Made in Glasgow

Ravi Kashi, Works 2001

By Ravikumar Kashi