Why you should not miss Kochi Biennale 2016–17

And my interpretations of some of the art installations which i liked in the festival

Though it was not my first time at Kochi, over a period of 5 years (form the last time i visited the city) i found the famously called “Queen of the Arabian Sea” to be completely transformed. With its new tourism flavouring the artistic Biennale galleries, streets with underground Easter bunny artworks, the natural wealth which co-creates most of beautiful komorebi-spot, redolent of good food(mainly Briyanis), backwater with ferries and all this without loosing Kochi’s heritage & cultural identity.

So here are some of the reasons i think you should Backpack as soon as you are done with this post

A) For the sake of art

They say you don’t need to be a artist to appreciate art, but Art appreciation as knowledge is still vacuum in Indian education system. I think its important because more you appreciate and understand the art of different eras, styles, the better you can develop, evaluate and improve your own creativity which in turn will improve your way of living. By observing or understanding an artwork in general you also under go artist’s thought process or know more of artist’s perception and state of mind. It’s one medium where the creator expresses and the observer gets inspired and in-turn observer undergoes a transformation, for that one need find his own taste of good art. Well Kochi Biennale is one place which can help you identify good art and kickstart Art appreciation, most of the work there are selected from some of the world best artist & it’s screening process attracts multicultural works to be showcased in a single place. So, I have listed out some of the installations which i found interesting and adding my interpretation on it as they say there may be many views on looking on an art and so this is my view.

Jonathan Owen’s Marble statue

Venue: Aspinwall House

The statue had beautiful portrait of a women in corset & chemise beautifully carved hair, perfect color body but the artist had it to play it on her facial expression, yeh marble statue is defaced. Instead the face is intentionally misplaced with a chain & ball. I think the with angle of the placement might be metaphor for state of mind people are in or maybe people’s facial expression due to society norms. Or one may also interpret it as disambiguation, as the meaning of ball & chain is unclear, people are unclear about what their actions are . I somehow felt it represents the real status of women in Victorian era, where their minds are made to chained towards themselves and their thoughts. Then after researching about Jonathan came to an understanding that the work has nothing to do with gender

The sculpture art is carved from versions of original from, i personally think it represents some of the questions which cannot be answered by us as a individual. The artwork is still balanced though the structure is collapsed format & I think the work is symbolism people from the alternative history who have the world has failed to recognize . The method of building something new and aesthetically good out of deconstruction, transforming normal sculptures into playful and offbeat artworks is something which is new to me.

La vénale de bionis

In praise of madness

Venue : Cabral Yard

Sophie Dejode and Bertrand Lacombe work has it’s take on Societies view of the so called mentally ill people. Another interpretation can be a criticism or revelation of how medical & science professionals with their less knowledge about the world term label people who experience something out of normal as “mentally ill” . As a matter of fact the society immediately falls into judgement of a person who is with abnormal behavior but there is a slight probability that they might have just been just about living in another universe as normal people. My perception is the steel construction is leap on illusory form of parallel universe experienced by the so called mentally ill people.

There are two rotating cylinders which will project the participating audience into something of a psychedelic state, Initially their vision blurred by multiple rapidly rotating mirrors and colour. The installation on the other hand also reflected the state of Chemical and food processing industry as well as circus equipments which is been used to structure this object. The psychedelic state which one may experience is the so called lunatic person is undergoing day to day and there is nothing worn or necessity for a special treatment.

On Digging more on the creators the Sophie & Bertrand have been inspired on the words of Antonin Artaud’s 
VAN GOGH, THE SUICIDE PROVOKED BY SOCIETY

It talks about Van Gogh who was brilliant painter who used to punish himself . The world dint see him the way he saw the world and abolished him into normal living. 
I read the piece & it was absolute brilliance. Some of the quotes from the book which inspired

what is an authentic lunatic?
He is a man who has preferred to become what is socially understood as mad rather than forfeit a certain superior idea of human honour.
It is enough to have the genius to know how to interpret reality, which is something no painter had done before Van Gogh
There are no ghosts in Van Gogh’s painting, no visions, no hallucinations.
It is the torrid truth of the sun at two o’clock in the afternoon. But the suffering of the pre-natal is there.

Go Playces

Venue: Aspinwall House

Orijit Sen’s Playces is one Art which me along with my companions enjoyed a lot, we actually did solve the puzzle with couple of other strangers

Orijit Sen’s Go Playces

One may not forget the images of puzzle pieces while one is trying to solve, how the beautifully it has been crafted reflected the history of the Grand Trunk (GT) Road in Punjab and Hyderabad’s Old City in a more majestic & elegant way, the culture and ethnography spreading across.

River of ideas

Venue: Aspinwall House

River of ideas by Chittrovanu Mazumdar

A dark hall has numerous bulbs with metal shades flowing out of it like a river. Chittrovanu Mazumdar work is a such a visual treat for eyes. One would be reminded of hope, winning it back and piece amidst darkness

On a optimistic note the artwork can be conceived as

Idea can be perceived as there are numerous ways in which one can live a life , there is no right or wrong, an idea can lead to another way and it flows like a river.
River of ideas by Chittrovanu Mazumdar

On adding a little darker shade of interpreting the art,

the passage is black & void and the bridge is narrow, there is only a slight hope of transformation when the river flows of ideas from one end to the other. Once it’s flows and gone, its gone forever. you never get back the same water. Again keep your flow of idea as hope running .
Chittrovanu Mazumdar similar untitled work

The Tale of God Kiln

Venue: Aspinwall House

Takayuki Yamamoto, work is inspired from the Japanese mythical folk tale called “Kama-gami “ which deals with a boy who had golden belly button.So this is the story, A orphan boy raised by childless elderly couple. Later the boy started laying golden balls from the golden belly button. The mother on know it killed the boy to take out all the gold from the stomach. This story was narrated to us brilliantly by a volunteer in the Aspinwall House with such a passion . It is said that the boy’s idol is kept at Japanese home kitchen till today as a remembrance to kill greed.

The tale of god kiln by Takayuki Yamamoto

The boy in the story is replaced with artist, what Takayuki means with his artwork is the current state of artist who are loosing out on their originality and artistic way of life for money. Greed being the theme for the installation reflects the intoxication of commerce in Art industry . An iPhone mobile is kept in the hands of the installation with grans popping out from the artist’s belly is an amazing revelation

The Pyramid of the Exiled Poets

Venue: Aspinwall House

Remember the Dark room which used to scare you in all the exhibitions, this is similar such room except the pyramid will haunt you wit this voice of poetry . This mixed media artwork has recordings of poems from Ovidus Naso , Dante Alighieri, Bertolt Brecht, Czesław Miłosz, Mahmoud Darwish, Yang Lian, Joseph Brodsky, they haunt us they are the exiled poets whome we meet in the darkness.

The Pyramid of the Exiled Poets

Its is an reference to Pyramid of Khufu in Giza, Egypt. The darkness is the metaphor to ones ignorance. The condition of being banned in their own country or region is also darkness and the voices haunt their conduction of living. The voices are the spirits which follow you and ask you to push forward. It’s a powerful yet disturbing experience which is built with wood, matting, mud, and dung

Love is My Law, Love is My Faith

Venue : Cochin Club

Dana Awartani’s Love is My Law, Love is My Faith

Awestruck , immediately with the sight of Dana Awartani’s embroidery, it had arabic hand stitches with use of traditional patterns in a contemporary form of Islamic spiritual messages with sufi pomes embedded. It represent essential means to approach and engage without an end with the representation of symbolic infinity. One of the most positive yet meaningful showcase which i loved.

Ghost keeping

Venue: Aspinwall House

Romanian artist István Csákány’s Ghost Keeping is a mixed carpentry sculptural plus plaster installation depicting the real face of fashion & textile factory. Built from building materials, this wood art can trigger in Visual Orgasm to your eyes.

It had tailoring machines, with empty chairs to co creates the mood for entering artist’s zone. The recreation of the tailoring scene is to mock the pre-Industrializations era. The whole installation which sales into 2000 sq feet art work is metaphorical representation of concepts memory and grandeur. Even the Wires of the machines were made of wood material and so pleasing to watch

The figure of factory workers is absent representing the the absence of workers due to the demise of craftsmanship, this is a strong voice against processing and manufacturing unit. The suite and cote without tie represent the rise of corporate culture and monarchy rightist attitude. I think this installation on the whole is exaggerated criticism of a system that has stopped to function effectively in society.

Sea of pain

Venue: Aspinwall House

One most talked about work is Raúl Zurita installation ‘Sea Of Pain’. The Sea Of Pain invites people to walk through knee-deep water across a warehouse to read Zurita’s poem, dedicated to five-year-old Syrian refugee Galip Kurdi who was found dead across the shore. I personally dint walk as i found the writings too depressing and it was one of the most hyped works.

Bathroom Set

Venue: Aspinwall House

Dia Mehta Bhupal’ recreated an entire bathroom made with magazine paper, The irony of this is public restroom creation was to denote the present state of leasuremagazine​ journalism and its usage in bathroom.

I also felt it expresses the that non realistic approach towards the long and boring or lack of excitement in people’s lives with all the monotonous work. It is a sarcastic take on corporate world or even the labour workforce along with the print media.

The Dance of Death

Venue: Aspinwall House

It talks about space and time which takes place in of surrealistic world. The flickering light which appears steady, is not visible to the human eye due to its high flicker fusion rate

Loved Yardena Kurulkar Dance of light as it an artistic illusion on mobile during the time of the intermittent light becoming a constant.

Similar to Life, the light bulbs appears constant but eventually fades into and finally dies as.The dance begins to fade and we are left in the darkness which happens even in when space and time are present.

Studio flood

Venue: Aspinwall House

Studio flood is a fictional installation made entirely of cardboard, black paint and wood . The whole installation is completely dark humour themed. It can also be considered as a depiction of artist studio where there is no norms or rules , where as anti-gravity is also a possibility. On other thoughts I think the empty space around the installation represents waters bodies of flood and the objects are differing gravity are the brands which destroyed the worlds natural wealth and are intentionally placed upside down. It can be again be considered a criticism of modern society which failed to preserve the nature. It also symbolize apocalypse through water bodies.

I see a mountain from my window, standing like an ancient Sage

Venue: Aspinwall House

It’s multi-layered work which depicts a mountain made of wood like material. It’s physical representation of a personal history of an old Persian carpet which has been passed on from a mother to daughter over four generations.

Artist Remen Chopra seems to have drawn inspiration from her own experiences with a strong element of drama and family values linking these themes together.


There are numerous other works which i found really interesting yet i would place pictures at your own interoperation

And you have to visit this Biennale for

B) For the sake of Street Art

As you walk down the streets of Fort Kochi you would find all the flavors of street art throughout the city. Which might the reflect state of government today or voice for a cause or even just for the sake of art which makes the streets a better place to walk

Oneart note which is awareness campaign to cause a guilt trip is this

C) For the Sake of Good food

There is no need for a detailed explanation for Kerala Cousine especially Briyani’s , Pazampori. If you want to eat good food sounded by natural beasts like cats, three Eagles and a tortoise visit Rose Garden, you will be greeted by Abaas bahi who can show you the real hospitality, though he yet to give me Facebook friend request if in case you meet him remind him on this.

D) For the sake of City’s Heritage

E) For the Sake of Kochi’s People

I am not a Malayalee, my only connection with Kerala other than having some of good friends from the soil was spending 3 months working in Trivandram. We spent 5 days in kerala without any of us knowing the languages but all the Chetans and Chechis helped us in all ways guiding to right place as well us treating us with great kindness & hospitality . As a proud Tamizian where we are known for cultural heritage and Hospitality, but I would say kochi is equally paring and we have to collabrate more with them, but on artistic aspects I think we can learn a lot from Kochi’s Biennale so that we can also bring similar such events in our cities.

Big bunch of cheers to friends who accompanied with me on this trip Shrihari, Vijay Raj, Vaishali, Arvinth, who are also the co-creators of this post as the discussions had with them led to the creations of this content. So if you find it long & boring blame them too ;) . And another thing which i learned during travel was not forget to say UNO when you have one last standing card .