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Ode To The Unknown, 2017-2018, India Heritage Centre, Singapore

The installation was commissioned by and is in the collection of the Indian Heritage Center, Singapore.  The inspiration for this installation comes from the often overlooked rubber tapping cup in the museums collection. In colonial 1900's Singapore's rich clay soil facilitated the production of ceramic cups to collect the latex from the plantations in the region. 

Ode to the Unknown is an installation in response to the ceramic cup made and used in Singapore at the rubber plantations in the 1950's. The cups were produced at the home of the last remaining dragon kiln (Guan Huat) in Singapore at same location where Madhvi's studio is located today. She reinterpreted and produced 1008 polychromed cups in the  similar, laborious and repetitive rhythm as her predecessors in the same location.  

In the midst of the cups, small family size archival photographs shine the spotlight on the Indian plantation labourers. Thus paying homage to the unknown maker and user of the rubber tapping cup. The humble cup also alludes to the  inadvertent cross-cultural dialogue between the Chinese and Indian indentured workers, speaking of colonialism, labour movement and labour politics.

Interior of Guan Huat kiln (dragon kiln), Jalan Bahar, Singapore

A Letter From The Past, 2023, The Institutum, Gillman Barracks, Singapore

Process images

Image credit: Indian Heritage Centre Resource Library 

Drawing on the old kiln, Madhvi turns her focus to the interior of the kiln, marked by cracks and encrusted glaze from wood ash. The kiln's interior serves as a testament to years of hard labour and the passage of time.  This textured interior became her inspiration and canvas. Employing soft clay to fill the gaps between the cracks, allowed alphabet-like forms to emerge. The indistinct shapes bearing fingerprint-like impressions from the kiln surface, appear to unveil a coded script from the past. 

The Dance, a stop motion film with the cups, 2017

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