“This is your time to travel, you may not get this much time again.” Encouraged by the husband to travel, I read up on all that I could possibly do. As luck would have it, there was an art festival happening in a city, I always wanted to go back to.
The Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018 is in its 4thyear. Having read about it over the years, I thought this would be a great time to visit. The trip was surprisingly easy to plan. I managed to convince a friend, she booked us cheap air tickets and I booked a cheap Bed& Breakfast. We were set. Sometimes taking the easy route is a good decision. You will notice that the way the Biennale is spread out in Fort Kochi, it lets you soak in the culture of the place. The art has Dutch, Portuguese and Keralite venues as the backdrop, not to mention the sea following you throughout. Truly a beautiful setting!
As mentioned the choice of Fort Kochi to host this Biennale is spot on. Some of the reasons to attend:
- The place gets properly intertwined with the show and leaves you feeling as if you have got a proper taste of Kochi
- Kochi is one of the safest places I have travelled to in India. I would recommend it for women travelers
- Kochi can be as affordable or expensive as you like and the quality of the south Indian fare will still be good. This is my experience after my second visit.
My travel partner asked me if I think the theme of the Biennale ’Possibilities of a Non Alienated Life’ went with the art that was on display. For me it did make sense. It opened my eyes to the conflict in different parts of the world. We may not be touched by it directly but it is important to be aware. The art was definitely engaging and composed of paintings, installations, movies and experiences.
I put down some artists that were memorable, but I would not want to judge one over the other. I commend the Biennale for the number of topics dealt with from across the world and India that made me a more knowledgeable world citizen.
So, in no order of importance some of the artwork that stayed with me includes:
Artist Walid Raad– ‘Comrade leader comrade leader- you’d better be watching the clouds. This artwork made me outright laugh and quite aptly his political commentary is satirical. I loved the idea of middle eastern leaders appearing as flowers, which in reality has been used as a code for their names. And the piece ‘I thought I’d escape my fate but apparently’ are quotes taken directly from the media and represented in the artwork
Shilpa Gupta’s – ‘However For in your tongue, I Can Not Fit- 100 Jailed Poets’. This installation is beautiful beyond belief. It does not allow you to view it complacently, but you will get pulled into it. It features individuals incarcerated for their politics and poetry. You will hear their voices all at once above the mikes. You find yourself sitting there thinking about the fact that the freedoms you take for granted were what someone else sacrificed their life for. You also find yourself being grateful for being born in a democratic nation, where it is not the rule but rather the exception that the government will snuff out your voice
Shirin Neshat’s -‘Turbulent’. We didn’t sit through all the videos as there were many and we didn’t have enough time. However, this video touched me. The explanation said that in Iranian culture women cannot sing to an audience. Then watching the woman singer, sing her unintelligible song to an empty audience, bought home the point of female oppression so clearly. (No picture available)
Henri Dono- ‘Smiling Angel from the sky’ and the ‘Trojan Ships’ fascinated us with its light, movement and colour. This installation came alive because of a button on the door and yes, we kept pushing it. No wonder this form of Indonesian puppetry, is considered visual art.
While I love visiting new places, I also love getting deep into oft visited places especially if there is more to explore. So here’s a shout out to the universe to make it happen with Kochi.There were also student & collateral pieces that were housed in different places off the main Biennale venues. We tried to take in as much as possible and I will be doing a pictorial representation of more of the artwork- so stay tuned.