Thursday, 26 March 2015



with ART in the HEART

Text : Hina Nitesh

This weekend was great fun. I finally pulled myself (and other not so interested family members) 
together and went to the biennale - yes! the Kochi Muziris Biennale. 


This art festival has been happening in my backyard literally for the last more than 2 months with participation of artists from all over the globe. The festival is spread over many venues in Fort Kochi. Apart from drawings and paintings, the artists have used installations and cinema as medium of expression. Also there are daily movie shows and talks by those in the creative field which turn the entire area into a huge creative hub. 

The main hub of the biennale activity is the Aspinwall House. This is a much spread out venue and there are installations in the open. You need to weave in and out of rooms to view the exhibits. After a point I was marveling at the heritage building which dates back to 1867. In fact, I felt it was the perfect venue - an amalgamation of art and architecture.

Let me take you on a pictorial journey with some of the artworks that I personally connected with...




Shanthamani Muddaiah's 'Backbone' is the installation that grabbed my attention the moment I entered the venue. It is like a huge spine that serpents on the ground. Made with charcoal which itself is a temporary kind of material, the sculpture is used as 'a metaphor for many centripetal forces that hold civilizations together, from rivers to ideologies'






The three pictures above are by  American poet, Aram Saroyam. The name seemed to ring a bell and a little research later made me realize that long back in school, there was an excerpt from works of William Saroyam - the poet's father. Aram's works are minimalistic as well as thought provoking. They are meant to be 'seen and read' is what the write up informs me. What was interesting was the boys' take on these especially on the last one...they wondered if it was saying 'I am' or if the artist wanted to make 'a creature with 4 legs'!



Titled 'Undercurrent', Mona Hatoum's work (above) talks about landmines or lava. The artist, born to Palestinian parents, lives in exile in the UK and this seems to have an impact on her works.




This piece by Baroda based, Nataraj Sharma titled 'Alternate shapes for Earth'questions our perception of the world and the forces that shape it. The installation that was conceived in the aftermath of the Gujarat communal violence, voices the artist's call for peaceful co-exisitence. 





Let me apologise for this image which despite many tries turns out upside down :(...but I simply had to have it. This installation by Lavanya Mani titled 'Travelers Tales -Blueprints' is one of my favourites from the exhibition. Using the ancient technique of Kalamkari her painted cotton cloth is displayed like sails of a ship. The images on the cloth are the artist's interpretation of the role that the hand made textiles played in the colonial history of India.



Parvathi Nayar's Fluidity of Horizon







The two images above are from British artist Hew Locke. His works reminds one of a circus or a carnival. 'Sea Power', as the work is titled, illustrates journeys taken by travelers and explorers and the links that they forged. 






The two images above are from Sahej Rahal's work titled 'Harbingers'. The work occupies a large space that used to be a lab of sorts for spices. Made with clay and straw, the work responds to the historical context of the space. The artist has visualized the absent city - Muziris and displaced it in time and space. The various artifacts that are scattered around the huge space felt like I was walking through an excavation site.




Illustrator KM Vasudevan Namboodiri's graphic portrait of the city 




Sri Lankan artist Muhanned Cader's works free the landscape from the regular geometric frames. According to him it was the rectangular frame is the colonial  way of showing power over the lands conquered. In his work titled 'Galle Fort;Fort Kochi', he acknowledges that the seas in coastal Fort Kochi is the same as in Galle. He challenges the traditional notion that links landscape with land and landscape that is ever changing and fluidic as is shown in his works.


I spent a full day at the Biennale but still could not see all the venues. Strolling around the area which has old buildings (offices and warehouses) from the colonial era buildings transported me to another era. It is a nightmare to walk on these roads on any of the working days but Sunday thankfully is the day off for the traders here. But its not just the traders and the spice market, there seems to be a lot going on in terms of art and creativity in every
nook and corner. The entire area seems to be taken over by artists what with installations and graffiti and posters of art exhibitions all over the place. 

Maybe I will go there again before it gets over...


All Images: Copyright Hina Nitesh
Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat   

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