Kochi Muziris Biennale 2014: Whorled exploration through the eyes of a non-artist

We visited the Biennale 2014, two years earlier at Kochi, The art installations were amazing and the imagination of the artists was incredible. The Aspinwall, with the major installations, is an old abandoned sea facing Mansion, a property of an Englishman who came to Kochi in the spices trade.

The first installation we encountered was man standing on his head next to a pillar and a diamond shaped ditch. This in some sense prepared us for what we were to see the rest of the afternoon. A large barn like structure with wooden beams supporting a titled ‘odda’ roof the fascinated me, held a large number of installations.

The American poet Aram Saroyan’s Minimimalist poems are as much to be seen as read. He wanted to make poems that would look good as a billboard!Written in the 1960s in New York as also known as the shorted poem. I was fascinated by the poem “m”written and highlighted on the wall, 1968. Other poems were “eyeye” and “lighght”. The poem “m” holds the Guinness record for the shortest poem ever written!!! The extended “mmmm” evokes the sound of “I am” or I thought “Ommmmmh” the universal sign that evokes the idea of meditation.

Some installations in the barn: A set of serial lights arranged lie a web or flower with bulbs lighting and dimming in sequence in a large circular formation. 


The projection of ‘moving’ a film of 4 grains of rice on the ground with strange sounds emanating in the background in Chinese by a Chinese artist. A set of strange three dimensional shapes, a spring, a star as alternative shapes that the earth could have taken! Wow, what imagination, perhaps not appreciated by a scientist, who would have a scientific reason for the shape of the earth!        

Outside the barn was a few meter long large structure representing each bone within the vertebrae. Now, this made sense to the logical me!

Each room in the beautiful sea facing Aspinwall had a separate art installation. 

Infinity: Projection of the sea beating against the shore, a beach. I stood watching it wondering what it was meant to show, Suddenly, a rope – a tight rope – appeared along the level of the horizon. Slowly a lady began to walk on the tightrope!!! Now the idea was what people watching the horizon on a sea shore often think: how can one reach the horizon, a sense of infinity as our scientist friend Shuklaji once explained to me when we took our daughter to Marina beach! “Children should be shown the sea and the mountains. They can get a sense of infinity from this experience!” This artist as she walked the tightrope, she touched the horizon with her feet. What an imaginative way to achieve what many had wondered about!!

Room with a View: Another installation was a room which looked like the painter had been at work, an unfinished project. There were large drums of paint, brushes and even T-shirts hanging out to dry. A coupled walked in and asked the attendant “where is the painting?” He said “This is it!” The couple walked out in disgust and I fled laughing! But we went back in there and discovered the magic!! The walls of the room had black bars painted on it. A person lived in this prison for a long period and the artist in him painted in charcoal the scenes as he saw them from the window. On one side was a boat or boats out at sea, other sides were scenic landscapes! What an idea!

God breathes life into man: We were irritated at the constant signature ringtone of a Nokia phone just outside this room with a view. We searched for the man with this constantly ringing phone. We found the Nokia phone stuck to the roof on the top of the stairwell, with the constantly appearing figure of the meeting of two finger tips!What on earth was the phone doing there? This constant ringing and looking from up at the roof of the repeated appearance of two men’s figures meeting, was representing the famous Michael Angelo painting on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Rome!!! The creation of Man, as God breathes life into man!! The Nokia signature logo! Terrific!!

Pirates of the Caribbean: An artist had vision of skeletons coming out of the sea and sailing on boats on the high seas!! All these were created by stringing together black beads on to a white wall. Why these apparition like figures on the seas? The visual impact was striking.



One could spend many days at the Art Exhibition which had 44 installations in 6-7 locations in Fort Kochi. We however, Economists, Bankers and Scientists, had only one afternoon and only that much imagination!!! Kudos to the artists and Curator of Kochi Biennale 2014!! 


One thought on “Kochi Muziris Biennale 2014: Whorled exploration through the eyes of a non-artist

  1. Great to revisit this from two years ago! And also made me laugh :D”The first installation we encountered was man standing on his head next to a pillar and a diamond shaped ditch. This in some sense prepared us for what we were to see the rest of the afternoon.” and “We however, Economists, Bankers and Scientists, had only one afternoon and only that much imagination!!!”

    Like

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