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Second edition of event draws 94 artists from around the world.
By Dileep Thekkethil
KOCHI (KERALA): The second edition of the Kochi Biennale here, through March 29, is an exploration of the “Whorled” around us, puzzled over together by 94 artists from around the world.
“Whorled Exploration” is spread over eight venues across Kochi, the queen of the Arabian Sea – a city that has a history of expeditions, trade, colonization, suffering and freedom. Aspinwall is the main venue for this year’s biennale and the colonial structure, which is a 150 years old warehouse of spices, has been transformed into a brewery of modern art.
Internationally renowned artist Jitish Kallat, Artistic Director Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, stated: “Two chronologically overlapping, but perhaps directly unrelated, historical episodes in Kerala during the 14th to 17th Centuries become parallel points of departure for Whorled Explorations. Drawing from them, allusions to the historical and the cosmological recur throughout the exhibition like exaggerated extensions to gestures we make when we try to see or understand something. We either go close to it or move away from it in space, to see it clearly; we also reflect back or forth in time to understand the present. Whorled Explorations draws upon this act of deliberation, across axes of time and space to interlace the bygone with the imminent, the terrestrial with the celestial.”
In the words of Bose Krishnamachari, president and director of Kochi Biennale, “the second edition of Kochi Biennale maintains a unique character by yet again choosing an artist as the curator; celebrating its legacy as an artist-initiated project.”
At Aspinwall, the visitors are welcomed with a film essay by Charles and Ray Eames titled “Powers of 10” that conveys the basic essence of the biennale through a 9 minute video that throws light on man’s existence in an intensely complex universe that remains as an infinite entity holding thousands of galaxies together.
Throughout the venue visitors can view short poems by Aram Saroyan, who holds the word record for the world’s shortest poem ever written. His poems become part of the visitor’s exploration of the Kochi Biennale 2015.
The work of Marie titled “Future Perfect’ is connected closely with our past and future as she tries to create a timeline of events that may happen in the future. She creates a cast of the future by juxtaposing science and popular culture.
Adrian Paci’s “The Column” is a mirror that reflects the hardship faced by the commoners due to globalization. The film has a group of Chinese stone carvers transporting a huge marble stone to Europe by ship. Interestingly, due to the time constraints the workers are forced to make the classic Greek column during their journey in the ship.
In the meanwhile, Parvathi Nayar’s works “The Fluidity of Horizon” is an abstract portrait of the history of Malabar Coast, which brought trade and wealth to the country.
Mumbai-based artist Sahej Rahal’s installation “Harbinger”, tells a fictional story of the world ravaged after a fierce battle with the aliens. He has tried to create coordinates that link the beginning of human civilization to its end.
N S Harsha’s “Punarapi jananam Punarapi Marnam” (Again Birth, Again Death) is a panoramic worm-like view of the universe with stars and planet taking an endless cycle of births and rebirths as Sanskrit hymn denotes. The 79-feet painting derives multiple perspectives of the universe and in the end fills the visitor with the same complexity that surrounds the understanding about our existence in a universe that is largely unknown.
Descension, a water vortex made by the famous artist Anish Kapoor, is an installation that is exclusive to Kochi Biennale as the artist has used a portion of Aspinwall to create an artificial vortex filled with water and diesel, confronting the visitor with a perpetual force that pulls him to the unknowable interior.
The first edition of Kochi Biennale, co-curated by Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari, explored alternate paradigms of cultural practices. It saw 400,000 visitors making footprints and scripted a new episode on the artist fabric of Kerala. This artistic initiative of Kochi Biennale Foundation is financed by the government of Kerala and also by people who believe that art and artists have a definite role in shaping up the society of the future.
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