MATCHBOX – On appropriation ( II )

certificate of imitation by DRB

It’s like that because that’s the way it is.

India has played a significant role in the history of matchboxes and a key aspect of it has to do with appropriation. Initially, India’s matchbox industry was encouraged in an effort to empower small family run maker / businesses but as larger firms emerged, smaller producers began to exploit and subvert the power of the big brands via appropriation. So much so in fact, from both a Phillumney and Graphic Design perspective, it is the ability to discover so many variations, such diversity, that has made them so very interesting and collectable.

While the activity of producing ‘others’ or ‘variants’ may be viewed as an act of subversion, protest or even by some today as piracy – in my mind, the ingenuity of the act of deliberately injecting otherness and intentionally entertaining diversity celebrates positive difference for its own sake.

“It is in this liminal space between an original and a fake that the artist’s talent comes into its own” – Shahid Datawala *

* Matchbook: Indian Matchbox Labels
Tara Publishing 2007
Page 113
(On Google Books:


About Dirty Bleeder

Artist waxing quixotic

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