Unearthing Kochi Biennale - Part 2

Part 2 of our visit down to Fort Kochi. We can’t stop reminiscing on the time we spent at Fort Kochi and the work of the artists we continue to look up to as we piece together another list of works that really moved us. Interpretations of art do come with subjectivity but is undeniably the best way to understand it together and provide an opportunity to share experiences and feel connected.

We invite you to read about our top favourite art installations from Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018-2019.

Shilpa Gupta

For, In Your Tongue, I Can Not Fit is a vivid and immersive exhibit by artist Shilpa Gupta. The art is based on her interest in the power of written and spoken words, those that have often been repressed by a politically or socially unjust society.

A passageway with frames hanging on walls consisting of sketches and pieces of poetry lead you to a room enclosed by thick black curtains. Inside the room, which is so dimly lit, lies spiked rods with papers inscribed with words, wilfully pierced into each rod. Microphones hang above each rod with voices speaking through the microphones. These voices are reciting, humming and speaking in chorus, the words of 100 poets from all across the world who have been jailed or executed for what they wrote, for their beliefs and ideas on political and social justice. The tight piercing of the papers, the dim light and the melancholy of hums reflect the condition of dark prison cells, the oppressed state of the prisoners, their uncertainty when they wouldn’t be able to differentiate between day and night and their deep longing for freedom. The voices now compel you to listen to the unspoken, thereby giving the written words the freedom it deserved.

Thought is also a Matter

This stunning mixed media installation is curated by artist Raju Sutar who took inspiration for this work from the scientific fact that thoughts create chemical messengers in our body, a matter that didn’t exist in the universe a second ago before the thought. He delves into the concept to find a deeper meaning on how thoughts work on our minds on different levels and challenges us to think about ‘thought’ as a more meaningful concept that shapes our future so that we consciously make an effort to realize these experiences rather than adopting it spontaneously as it comes to us.

The exhibits put together the work of various artists who seek similar concepts about ‘thought’ and break down its complexity through their art. One of the artists, Vaishali Oak, compares the similarities of thought and a seed. A thought travels and propagates just like a seed. She puts together a thoughtful souvenir from her exhibit, where you can pick up a seed postcard to gift a ‘thought’ to someone, a postcard with seeds embedded in them which is to be planted as a way of encouraging good thought flow to grow into great experiences and possibilities.

Artist Rajesh Kulkarni artistically displays the dynamic nature of thought, it’s abstract yet real sense as it travels from past to present.  Small terracotta pots are hung with threads and steel ropes to show the beautiful flow of thought.

The most unique thing about the work of these artists is their process where they follow an abstract flow that evolves and develops its own meaning through the course of creating the art. This art pervades a diaspora of viewers, lingering in their mind, revealing itself in multiple ways for them to interpret and pass it on. 

VALIE EXPORT

VALIE EXPORT is an Austrian artist and one of the early pioneers of feminism whose work includes photography, video installations, sculptures, body performances and an interactive medium of cinema. She used art as a medium to rebel against the submissive representation of women in the society. During the 60s and 70s, the artist adopts unconventional ways by using the female body as the key element to address the constructs of feminity that society created and to break the stereotypes by rejecting passive or fantasy depictions, to achieve sexual freedom.  Her work stands out as she constantly uses an aggressive, confrontational tone to create an impact in the viewers and her bolshie attitude is an inspiration to many feminists.

The exhibit ‘METANOIA’is a presentation of 29 video performances of the artist’s most significant early works playing on all television screens. In one of these videos, the artist wears a box over her torso, with a hole cut out and covered by a curtain that resembles movie screens where she invites men and women to touch her naked breasts in public. She uses a direct engagement with the audience and her work here to show the implications of how women are objectified and presented as a sexual symbol in cinema.

In her installation ‘Fragments of Images of Contingence’, viewers walk across the humid hall and watch the synchronous movement of light bulbs immerse into glass cylinders filled with milk, water or oil. The danger of light bulbs being immersed into liquid draws parallels with the oppression faced by women.

Tania Candiani

The Mexican artist puts together a stunning piece by creating a whole new instrument through re-organization. She uses various elements like technology, music and science to create something that amalgamates both history and tradition with the evolving nature of art as she creates this piece, ‘String Loom’.

She puts together the sound of both Indian and traditional Mexican music to create a string instrument that resembles a hand weaving unit. This makes it the most interactive art where you can play the instrument; understand the beautiful complexity of it that produces different sounds and create tunes while also imparting a sense of nostalgia for the obsolete. The art guides us to a realization of the dying craft of hand-weaving as it makes up a very significant part of our tradition.

Juul Kraijer

 

The Dutch artist uses Surrealist photography, drawings and sculptures to create mysterious and unambiguous art. She deliberately chooses to restrict a sense of emotion, time or any other relation in her photographs. Her core belief is to avoid giving certainty and meaning to people who view her art. Her photographs were created after she developed a great bond with a courageous model who stepped out of her comfort zone and faced her fears by posing with snakes, scorpions and other reptiles for the photographic series without showing any emotions. The general appeal of the photographs correlates with that of animals and other natural elements in the world. The artist denies describing her art more than strictly what seems necessary as she believes she cannot match the eloquence of her work with words.


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