As you may know, it’s Biennale year again at Kochi, only this time we all went. That’s right. A large contingent from the office last week took the reddest of red eye flights to Kochi to spend the weekend absorbing some pretty incredible art. What was it like? Akshita Phoolka, one of our creatives and one among many other first timers, recounts the experience.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is nothing short of spectacular. Spanning three months, it’s the largest exhibition of contemporary art held in the artistic heart of Kerala; Kochi. Now in it’s third and very successful edition, we were greeted by blue skies, soaring temperatures, and inspiring works of art from over 90 participating artists from India and around the world. Their works making, the old seafront warehouses, colonial Dutch bungalows, and vintage townhouses come alive.
Sea Of Pain, Raúl Zurita
Supermarket, Dia Mehta Bhupal
Artworks ranged from larger than life, dramatic installations, mixed-media works, videos, short films, sound sculptures, and more traditional mediums. Spread across twelve locations around Kochi, The Biennale’s main venue, Aspinwall House, held most of the works. Highlights here include, The Pyramid Of Exiled Poets by Aleš Šteger, a celebrated Slovenian poet and novelist. Serving as a tomb for poets who have been exiled from their nations, the installation is a disorienting walk in complete darkness, populated by the voices of the poets. The work is as powerful as it is disturbing.
The Pyramid Of Exiled Poets, Aleš Šteger
Inverso Mundus, AES+F
Another powerful piece is Chilean poet Raúl Zurita’s immersive installation titled, Sea Of Pain. Here Zurita creates a shallow sea pool of water in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, dedicating the work to Galip Kurdi, the five-year-old brother of Alan Kurdi (who became an icon of the Syrian crisis after photographs of his lifeless body were shared around the world, spurring humanists into action). Visitors wade through its waters taking in Zurita’s poems along the way.
Calls & Oni-bi (Fen Fire), Yuko Mohri
Elsewhere inspiration is to be found in the works of AES+F, a Russian collective whose works include photographs of dead bodies that have been heavily styled and dressed in couture, Indian artist Dia Mehta Bhupal’s life-size washroom intricately woven from old magazine pages, artists Miller Puckette’s Four Sound Portraits, Latvian artist Voldemars Johansons mesmeric audio-visual documentation of a stormy North-Atlantic sea, titled Thrist, and many more than can possibly be listed in this short space.
Thirst, Voldemars Johansons
Three days fall short, given the scale of the event and the range of works. There’s also much to be explored in the city itself, with its Dutch architecture, quaint cafe’s, toddy shops, and more. But were glad we got to take in a little bit of of everything.
Where The Flowers Still Grow, Bharat Sikka