M.K. Stickers, a micro-archival project by Nihaal Faizal, presents digitized samples of all mass-produced automobile stickers available for purchase at M.K. Stickers, a sticker wholesaler in Bangalore, India, on October 17, 2020.
Photo courtesy the artist
An enduring form of urban and visual culture in the city, automobile stickers are representative of a wide range of relations. They mark personal and cultural identity; announce social and economic aspirations; symbolize romantic and familial desire; become means of decoration and adornment; and index community, political, and religious power. Proudly displayed by vehicle owners in Bangalore and beyond, these stickers occupy a site that is both private and public—expressing identity and marking personal property, while also messaging anxieties, affiliations, longings, and ambitions to a wider public.
In this presentation, the stickers are documented in their store-bought packaging, highlighting the transitory phase between the stickers’ centers of production and the eventual sites of their intended vehicular displays. As a result, other peripheral elements also emerge into view: the labels of the companies that produce them, the improvised plastic wrappings in which they are held, and the dust that accumulates on the older stock (diligently marking shifts in tastes and trends). Purchased on a single day—a typical mid-week working day—the collection archives a specific slice of time, one that allows us to glimpse the shifting demographic and visual trends that are essential to the identity of the city in that particular moment.
Nihaal Faizal is an artist based in Bangalore, India. In 2018, he founded Reliable Copy, a publishing house for works, projects, and writing by artists.
M.K. Stickers was commissioned by Rhizome as part of the 2019—2020 Microgrants program.