Interview Art

Don’t object to this discourse

Facebook group Objectspeak by researcher Lina Vincent encourages people to look at items differently and grasp their historical weight

On April 4, Sharada Ramadass posted to a closed Facebook group a photo of shiny yet speckled steel dabbas, with the caption, “Functionality is timeless, if you can ignore the exterior frills. Made out of brass, the owner’s initials/ name was engraved on it (as in this case also) so as to associate it closely with the person. Passed on, for over three generations, these containers haven’t lost their utility nor looks, and none the bad for wear and tear. So do they really need to try and compete with tupperware?”

This is one of the personal posts of researcher and curator Lina Vincent’s Facebook group ‘Objectspeak’ created in February this year. Other posts include shared posts from other heritage-oriented pages or sites as well as more personally-created objects such as Nirmal Raja’s posts of cast plaster and various spices from a mould of a container from her grandmother’s kitchen.

Don’t object to this discourse

“I received a IFA fellowship to work with Goa Chitra Museum. When discussing the various outreach programming for my fellowship, I included social media as one layer to reach out to people to talk about their objects,” explains Lina, “because from my end, I was examining about museum objects. And I was also making the connection between objects with utilitarian purposes and the potential with historical weight. So the concept with Objectspeak was to get people thinking differently about the objects around them.”

What started out as a simple research project has become a social media discussion about the value of basic – and not so basic — objects.

Lina also has an Instagram for Objectspeak, also private, but the content is different as are the platforms. “On Facebook, because it’s a closed group people can join, there’s a forum-like environment where members can openly discuss and share, while Instagram is by the poster.” Lina adds that she’s also gotten private messages from people who thank her for creating the group and for getting them to go beyond the digital platform and dig around their environments in a different way — especially in today’s prevalent hoarding culture.

Lina Vincent

Lina Vincent   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Interestingly, Objectspeak has shown it members hints of the ethnographic and anthropological behaviours around them through the various materials shared. Lina and the team at Objectspeak make sure the content is also moderated, mainly for the sake of factual accuracy.

As a researcher, Lina says that she’s trained to look at items with a fixed methodology but the Facebook group has helped her freshen up her perspective. “The notion of breaking away from rigid systems we have is one of my greatest take-aways,” she says, “and it’s also a lot less intimidating when there’s a screen so that added layer is worth considering when people join the group.”

Joining the group is easy and one needn’t be a researcher to be a member, but a joining request is enough to get in, and Lina is delighted for more join this journey.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 8:30:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/facebook-group-objectspeak-by-researcher-lina-vincent-encourages-people-to-look-at-items-differently-and-grasp-their-historical-weight/article29699580.ece

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