Think of the word 'mithai' and what are the images that come to you? Weddings, Diwali, heavy silken outfits and aunties with a matrimonial agenda? Go on and think of the deliciously rounded names, chum-chum, rasgolla, petha, ras malaai and what do you think of? Halwais down the street, hot oil and delicate jalebis, silver foil, pink and green icing, bits of aesthetically strewn almond and that bandhini print packaging. The word seems to cannonball images of good Indian moral values, social constraints, expectations and excess. It's hard to shake off the familiar and familial pictures that mithai brings to mind. But for their latest project commissioned by Soup, the design shop Sharpener have done exactly that. They've not just shaken these images off, they've kicked them out the window.
Sharpener puts together a series of surreal photographs, where the unassuming Indian sweet undergoes bizarre transformations. Their rounded shapes take on a disturbing physicality when juxtaposed with the human body. Familiar textures are reimagined in strange pairings with unexpected inanimate objects. Chum-chums spit crystals and pista burfis crawl over skin against pop-coloured backgrounds in this irreverant bubble gum and plastic universe. We are not expected to like it, but it does challenge and shatter everything we hold near, dear and familiar.