The Enigma of Objects

An ongoing editorial project which showcases everday objects with short reflections on what they evoke. Each edition centres on a theme, in order to examine material culture through crowd-sourced artifacts and stories.

Edition 1 / AT HOME : The pandemic has us sheltering in place, amidst a collection of objects that help us feel safe. Most objects we live with are chosen for their function. A select few escape mere practicality and acquire sentimental value. Even staunch minimalists reserve a category for objects that spark joy. How do such morsels of materiality become vessels of hope, nostalgia, and grief?

Edition 2 / CYCLES : Cycles operate within us and upon us. They can feel tight, like a week racing by, or long and drawn out – bringing us back to familiar beginings. Then there are cycles that continue in spite of us. Nature is full of cycles like this - a sun that arcs overhead and sinks no matter what the day holds; leaves that grow only to fall and feed new buds. What objects embody these cyclic forces?

Edition 3 / RECORDS : Music has the ability to release a flood of memories from bygone times. This edition focuses on recollections that live in objects and nest in the sound waves they emit.

As the curator, I seek to understand:
  • What objects become timeless and how do they serve us?
  • How do some objects stay relevant in a culture obsessed with disposability and innovation?
  • Why do we hold on to heirlooms, artifacts, found objects, souvenirs, and what do they mean in the context of our own transience?

Submissions: To feature an object from your personal collection on this instagram-based project, please send the following to enigmaofobjects@gmail.com or DM me on instagram:

  • 2 photos of an object from your personal collection. See photo guidelines below.
  • A short text on its significance and what it evokes for you. Max. 500 characters or 200 words.
  • Your name and city. You may use a pseudonym if you wish to stay anonymous.

* Submissions from past contributors are accepted for new editons. Curator may edit submissions for clarity and consistency.

Photography: Whether capturing your object with a phone or camera, photos should be taken under natural light, against an even backdrop, and in focus.

A square photo framing the entire object is recommeneded, you may also include detail shots.
  • Ensure good lighting. Place object by a window during the day, in indirect daylight. Avoid harsh shadows from direct sunlight.
  • Create a neutral backdrop. Drape fabric, use paper, or shoot against a wall so the object stands out against a background.
  • Framing and focus. Choose a square frame on your device, if available. Keep steady, and check that the object is in focus.