Modern romance

Back in 2016, Indu Harikumar started #100IndianTinderTales in an effort to crowdsource stories on how Indians use Tinder. The success of her project on Instagram led to interest from the dating app itself, leading to their latest collaboration, #HowWeDate.

The artist and illustrator says, “It is about what we like and dislike, our experiences, what we’re looking for in love, and, most of all, what makes us swipe right.”

Not about the ring

Before she started, Harikumar says that she worked with the Tinder team to conceptualise and co-create the broad scope and topics they wanted to explore. On her personal Instagram handle, @induviduality, she used the poll option on Stories to ask questions on dating, sex, sexuality and menstruation. Her DMs were soon flooded with women sharing deeply personal stories, opening up in a way she had not really expected.

Harikumar says that the one thing that stood out to her was that the experience of love is not linear. “From tales of first love, to a platonic relationship based on a shared interest for reading, people shared all sorts of experiences,” she says, adding that women have written about their changing relationships with themselves, the forsaking of the traditional “But will you marry?” narrative, and the advantage of learning how to talk to people and discovering what works and what does not, through people they meet on the platform.

And while she says that she “bought into Bollywood’s idea of romance, and wasn’t looking to meet men outside of checking the long term commitment/marriage box”, she finds that today’s generation have the option of something different. “And they are choosing a different paradigm for themselves,” she says.

She converted some of these stories into art, saying, “I go with my gut feeling when it comes to picking a story to illustrate. I pick a part of the story that appeals to me most and start drawing.” For the mixed media project, she hand drew all the illustrations, used scraps of paper from glossy magazines and fabric swatches from a tailoring unit for patterns. These were then digitised in Photoshop, and are shared on her Instagram.

Online connect

A Tinder user herself, she says, “I’ve always liked online platforms, as it brings together people of common interests through active choice rather than common backgrounds.” This interest spreads to areas other than romance on platforms, as Harikumar found out to her credit late last year. “Someone from a German museum was actively liking my press coverage on Twitter, so I sent him an email. He wrote back saying they were doing a show called
to Tinder
and were considering my work. Today, four of my drawings and stories from #100IndianTinderTales hang at Kunstahlle Bremen alongside Picasso and Munch,” she says proudly. Her work will remain there until October 21, 2018.

Her future work features relationships as well. “I am preparing for a crowdsourced project on sex and pleasure, while I also work on a manuscript for a book,” she concludes.

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