A lazy Sunday evening for everyone, but things are quite different in Fort Kochi, where the third edition of Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB)is happening. The spirit of the art event is in the air — on the walls and even on some auto rickshaws that have turned into ‘Arto rickshaws’ for the biennale. At Aspinwall House, one of the major venues of the art event, artists and helpers are busy with preparations. Artworks installed inside and outside seem to be awaiting visitors to narrate their stories.
And then, there is curator Sudarshan Shetty introducing a few artworks in Aspinwall. The KMB 2016 features productions and performances of 97 artists from 31 countries. Titled as ‘Forming in the pupil of an eye’, this year’s biennale space is shared by writers, dancers, poets, musicians, and theatre professionals along with the visual artists.
“This Biennale is intended as a dialogue between multiple perspectives and possibilities as it evolves within the space and through the duration of the Biennale and beyond,” says Sudarshan. The walk begins with the mural paintings by P.K. Sadanandan, a Malayali artist, who uses colours made from natural ingredients. Sandanandan and his aides are involved in painting the intricate pictures drawn on the wall.
The stones he has ground to make natural colours are also displayed to give visitors a better understanding of the traditional style of mural painting. Certain artworks are evolving. Sadanandan’s work is an instance. It will continue through the biennale, giving an opportunity for the visitors to closely observe the evolution of art. Next to Sadanandan’s work, is a theatre work and an installation by Delhi-based Anamika Haksar. Her ‘Composition on Water,’ an improvisational installation, deals with memories of oppression. A set reminding rural life is erected in the room where actors act and talk about water.
“This performance installation uses texts by Dalit writers like Namdeo Dhasal’s ‘Water’ and the actors will experiment with audience interaction each time they perform,” says the curator. Then, there are photographs by Gauri Gill. Titled ‘Traces’, the pictures depict unpolished stones and old bricks piled by hands in the sand of the Barmer and Bikaner districts of Rajasthan. “Each of them has a story to tell,” explains Sudarshan. ‘Mythological Paradigm Prophesied’, a lithography exhibition by Subrat Kumar Behera from Odisha is another attraction.
Desmond Lazaro’s ‘Family Portraits’ , an installation with hanging cloth, small paintings, video and icon, has taken cues from the artist’s personal archive and public record to form the basis of the work. The dimly-lit room has long transparent clothes hanging from the roof with paintings and icons inscribed on it.
The Biennale has truly become people’s biennale with some artworks inviting people’s participation. Latvian artist Voldemars Johanson’s work has changed the horn sounds of a few autorickshaws in Fort Kochi, making them ‘Arto Rickshaws’ and ambassadors of the biennale.
Argentine writer Sergio Chejfec’s work is spread over the Aspinwall. “He is writing an 88- chapter novel on the walls. It will continue through the biennale and you will see his writings on many walls in the coming days,” says Sudarshan.
Bob Gramsma from Switzerland has done a site-specific sculpture in the courtyard of Aspinwall. He dug an extensive opening on earth and a concrete cast was made to produce an inverted sculptural reproduction. “Through this, he is flipping open the history and bringing it to the present.” The visit concluded with the installation by Raul Zurita, a Chilean poet. Into the sea of pain, it poses certain questions before the audience and asks them to read them wading through the water. ‘Don’t you see me? In the sea of pain?’ reads one question. And, one would feel she or he is walking through the sea of pain while reading it. A lot of such artistic wonders are awaiting viewers in Aspinwall and other venues. All you have to do is just walk in!