Unless you pull something deconstructionist like transforming a urinal into a fountain as Marcel Duchamp did in 1917, chances are that you take most of your physical reality for granted. Similar to how the Japanese tea ceremony affected production of porcelain and ceramics in the early 17th century, the utilitarianism of everyday objects can be conquered by a richer, more cryptic inner life that lies concealed in their misleading passivity. A multidisciplinary design crucible based out of Mumbai, InOrdinary understands how folding our hands around a cup and taking a sip is laden with the dramaturgy of gossip and centuries of social commentary. Whether it be seeking alms or eavesdropping by pressing the cup against a wall, the fundamental notions of and function can be easily toppled if we are only willing to look past our conditioning.
Remoulding materiality to allow for fresh perspectives, by Inordinary is a functional art exhibition that corrals the clattering creations of 18 different mavericks from sculptors to glassworkers, who are reclaiming this ubiquitous vessel in the spirit of hybridity. The exhibition employs scenography to display these cups within the fitting domicile of a sink — where the cutlery of our stormy dinners and stimulating coffee debates often end up.
Launched in 2022 by curator and creative director Priyansha Jain, InOrdinary salvages treasures headed towards ignominy from artist clusters, idiosyncratic households and flea markets; breathing new life into them with rescue operations by their in-house artist Karan Shreshta.
Considering that this is Inordinary's inaugural foray into showcasing commonplace articles reimagined as collectibles of value, the Mary Lodge by Subko in Bandra (Mumbai) might seem a peculiar choice compared to the austere surroundings of a gallery. However, not many people know that the specialty coffee label also holds space for those breaking the mould across visual media, music and more under the ambit of Subculture. By ameliorating talented individuals from across the subcontinent and helping them attain visibility in a world constantly overloaded by 'fresh finds', Subko is aspiring to catalyse an atmosphere of meaningful discourse and experimentation.
Instead of forfeiting our connection with the cups once they are used, Many Cups in a Large Sink compels you to witness how mutable physical matter is, transfiguring incessantly to remain relevant. Complementing the exhibition is a visual poem by filmmaker Gia Singh Arora that envisions the cups floating in dishwater like lily pads, deep in dialogue with each other and the ephemeral impressions left behind by the people they touched. The On-Air Room at Mary Lodge will be screening other such multimedia narratives, a selection by Mansher Dhillon, further exploring the theme of human-object relationships. Adding steam to the experience, a pour-over concocted exclusively for the event by Subko will be served in cups created by one of the exhibiting artists, Yaazd Contractor.
Peering into the chalice of memory, InOrdinary revives the inanimate hand-me-downs of our hoarding culture to cull items that demand more than our cursory attention. Like the cups we set aside for our loved ones, many of our tangible belongings resonate with the emotional inflections we ascribe to them, and through the lens of art and design it is possible to externalise the inner lives they carry within their molecules.
Through Many Cups in a Large Sink, you will be offered a chance to dwell upon the malleability of raw material that can take myriad shapes to fulfil the same purpose. The familiarity of our corporeal universe must be challenged now and again so we don't subside into treating our intimate possessions as mundane conveniences.
Date: 17th to 21st October, 2023
Time: 10 A.M. to 9 P.M.
Venue: Mary Lodge by Subko, Bandra West.
You can explore InOrdinary's online collections here.