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Why the Broom?

Inconspicuous, marginal, if not invisible, tucked away in corners, hidden under the bed, a broom would appear to be devoid of any value. Certainly, it is not an art object that one would associate with a museum. And yet, this is precisely the object that Komal Kothari highlighted in order to begin his investigation of the museum. What seems totally insignificant, if not disposable, is what holds the world together in its capacity to clean and order space.

As we explore the world of the broom, we are duly humbled by the vistas of human and social knowledge that it is capable of revealing. First and foremost, the broom brings us into contact with grasses, plants, and other botanical resources. In rural Rajasthan, village women make their own brooms from whatever is available in their environment--leaves, twigs, shrubs, and waste material. The majority of the brooms in our exhibition focus on these improvised brooms, testifying to the ingenuity and creativity of local knowledge.

In addition, we also focus on brooms made by professional broom-making communities that are sold in markets. There is no dearth of variety here in terms of shape, size, and material, which are closely related to the texture of particular surfaces. We have collected more than a hundred brooms from different parts of Rajasthan. The number could grow. But the focus will not be on quantity, which would promote the ethos of collecting objects. We are more concerned with developing an understanding of the relationship between the biodiversity of the desert and the lives of people inhabiting and surviving its harsh, yet nurturing, environment.

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