What happens when you sift through piles of old ‘kuppai’ (Tamil for ‘trash’) and find a treasure of handwritten, printed and stamped type on papers of all colors and textures?
When my mother and uncle bring back bags-full of documents, among countless bills, wedding invitations and envelopes stashed away in my grandfather’s desk in our ancestral home and shred everything they deem unimportant, I sit with them and retrieve as much as I can.The potential for scrapbooking and telling stories through the material relics of a lifetime becomes apparent as I gather all the torn scraps that catch my eye.
My cousin and I embark on a long-term curatorial project, documenting and investigating these fading memoirs of family history, including grocery lists from 1973, an ancient Aavin milk packet, train tickets, turmeric-smeared cards and hand-drawn astrological notes on prospective grooms.
I trace my journey of discovering type, scrawls and graphics amidst rubbish, and the stories they tell us about the times they were created in.
I also discuss how it has inspired my own design practice, by sharing typographic explorations, including posters, compositions and prints, wherein elements, scribbles and chunks of text from the kuppai interact with patterns and colors in my experiments.
This talk reflects upon the dynamics of how someone preserves, someone destroys, and someone salvages, while placing these scraps against research, personal-historical and typographic-creative contexts.