Help! I'm Trapped Inside of Tiffin

The tiffin dhabba is a South Asian steel lunchbox that is comprised of a series of stacked bowls, used for the transportation of food around the busy cities of the Indian subcontinent. The tiffin brings a meal together, whilst also compartmentalising it. It is both an architecture of collectivism, and of rupture.

Supported by the canon of diaspora studies, I use the tiffin in my work to speak of the paradoxical identity of the post-colonial migrant. The tiffin and the migrant are both products of fragmentation, intersection, and of mobility.

So, does comparing the migrant reality to a tiffin make it easier for us to understand the nature of a diasporic identity?

If so, why?

Do visual languages have an ability to democratise institutional knowledges?

Does this mean that there are limitations with how we store and generate other post-colonial discourses?

Help! I’m Trapped Inside of a Tiffin builds from these questions by using architectural and material relations as processes of immediacy in translating complex post-colonial entanglements.

By positing space as a practice of dimensionality and tangibility, it is harnessed to articulate complex spatial and geographical histories of migration.

The research uses art methods; archival curation; found objects; children’s book illustrations; the post-colonial canon; and an engaged ethnographic practice as methods of communicating the lived reality of the post-colonial migrant as one of liminality, flux and oscillation.

The results speculate a playful visual representation of both ethnographic and canonical knowledge around the identity of a diaspora, thus offering new potentials in how architectural knowledge around migrancy can be generated and stored.