Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016: Artist’s delight

This was the second Kochi Muziris Biennale that we were visiting. This art festival is held every two years in the old Cochin island and attracts artists from all over the country and the world. We had the joy of visiting this 2016 version, while two years earlier we had visited the 2014 Biennale. My post on that will be uploaded as a sequel to this one. 

The installations were spread over 12 sites and would have taken us at least a week to cover a large part of it. With just one day on hand we chosen the most densely populated/installed site, the Aspinwall House along the backwaters of the Fort Cochin, Vypin Jetty. 

The dominant theme of the artists imagination as we noted in the installations we saw was of disruptions, dissonance, chaos, instability and confusion in society.

The most exciting installation we visited was of the Slovenian poet, essayist, novelist Ales Steger called the Pyramid of the Exiled Poets. It was a huge pyramid structure made of mud and cow dung. You are invited to walk through the pyramid, and as you enter the dark space waiting for your eyes to adjust, you hear strange tongues. Behind thatched wall, are the muted voices of the exiled poets. It was a nerve racking experience as you turn corners and hear weird voices. It reminded me of the more recent exiled poetess, Taslima from Bangladesh. Perhaps this is how one feels.

Sunil Padwal’s ‘Room of Lies’ is a Room full of photographs of lost items, misplaced items. This included old type writers, used car parts, a deflated football and much else. It told a lot of stories or a roomful of lies, lost lives, unfulfilled dreams.

In an interview to Indian Express Sunil appreciated the Kochi Biennale as unique and different from those in other cities across the world. In Kochi the artists from the royalty of arts like Tate Modern move along with the local artists. “It’s a people’s Biennale here!”.

Tom Burckhardt’s installation is an upside down house, made entirely of cardboard. It was inspired by the floods in New York and the artist comments on the political situation around the world.

Rajeev Thakker, a practicing architect, had an installation of houses stacked one on top of the other. To me it looked like a comment on the consequences of the fast paced urbanisation of recent times that is celebrated as an engine of growth.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar’s sculpture and video installation the River of Ideas. A river punctuated by islands. In my mind it conveyed a river of thought, imagination, creativity, illuminated and soaring!

Bob Gramsma, from Uster, Switzerland. His installation the RIP off shows a whole concrete floor shifted at an angle and propped out of its original position. Reminded of the structure hit by the earthquake that struck Gujarat in 2001

Overall an exciting experience. My non artistic eyes were also very pleased with the ideas, thought process that went into these installations, the ambiance of the Biennale.


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