A Selective Guide to the V&A's
South Asian Collection

In response to my time as an artist-in-residence at the museum in the summer of 2017, I put together a ‘selective guide’ book that takes a reader through a short personal tour of the South Asia collection at the V&A in London, weaving together thirteen seemingly disparate objects—some that are present and some that are absent in the gallery, displayed elsewhere in the museum, in storage or indeed in India. In order to have a plural voice, I invited my peers and fellow artists from both UK and South Asia (India and Pakistan) to respond, in creative ways, to specific objects in the collection, that guide a reader through various parts of the collection.

Drawing bridges between objects that sit in different collections in the museum but are from South Asia, such as the Rapid Response collection and the Museum of Childhood, the publication attempts to move away from the official museological narrative and makes inquiries about what an alternative understanding of the objects could be; not giving the ‘facts’ but instead creating idiosyncratic links though the collection as the whole and responding to how objects are displayed and how personal meaning is created through display and interpretation.

The contributions are in the form of questions, descriptive writing, poetry and collage. Through personal responses they tackle the larger themes of hidden power structures, trade history between the continents, the provenance of the objects, the magic and mystery one experiences when looking at a collection such as the V&A’s, questions of ownership (national/individual) and of curation amongst others.

Read an excerpt of the Glossary by Rose Lejeune here.
Buy it here.

Collecting as Practice: Avani Tanya from Delfina Foundation on Vimeo.