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Art can take you anywhere: Kochi-Muziris Biennale ‘16

16 February 2017 12:24 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The common saying ‘Art can take you anywhere’ is vividly proved if you happened to visit South Asia’s largest contemporary art exhibition ‘Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) 2016’ in Fort Kochi, Kerala. 
Arts performances and productions by ninety-seven artistes representing 31 countries including Sri Lanka are featured at the KMB. Titled ‘Forming in the pupil of an eye,’ much-awaited creative extravaganza’s curtains went up on December 12 last year, and will be closed on March 29, 2017. 

The KMB holds a mirror up to the general public, reflecting its interests and concerns while at the same time challenging its social misconceptions and political issues such as global refugee crises. It also explores concepts of historical identity and cultural memory through various forms of media such as painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, film and video, photography, activism, street performances and music. 

In one stall, visitors get the tactile experience of having to wade through ankle-deep sea water, recalling the terrible experience encountered by the two Syrian kids Alan Kurdi and Galip Kurdi who drowned in the Mediterranean waters in 2015 while making an escape to Turkey. In another stall, you are taken to an Indian colourful folk art performance called ‘Payyunur Charadukuthi Kolkali’ (traditional form, native to Payyanur in Kannur District). 

Curated by Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty, the KMB’s organisers have successfully attempted to bring various cultures from different countries into the world of art. Below are some must-see art installations which lingered in mind. 


‘Sea of pain’ - Chillie (Pic) 

Chilliean artist Raúl Zurita wades barefoot through the knee-deep stretch of seawater that covers his installation ‘Sea  of Pain,’ bearing in mind the agony the innocent Syrian boys Alan Kurdi and Galip Kurdi underwent while crossing the border in the Mediterranean Sea in 2015. 


Histories of Resistance - Sri Lanka  

Sri Lankan artist T. Shanaathanan’s exhibit presents forgotten, personal takes on Sri Lanka’s civil war. 

Speaking on his Cabinet containing stories on display at KMB, he said he attempted to talk about unheard personal stories of the hardships faced by civilians and how they were handled from a civilian’s point of view. 

Since 2004, Shanaathanan has toiled to collect firsthand experiences of individual tragedies in the hope of coming into terms with his own trauma. 

“Today, the 400-km journey from Jaffna to Colombo takes hardly six hours by bus. During the war, since most of the routes were blocked or barred, one had to go through no man’s zones. 
There was no certainty about whether you would reach. 

It is not just physical pain, but also the hardships the common man has to face daily in war-torn areas that causes mental trauma. I found that my experiences were not unique. They were shared by people,” he said. 



Unspoken conversation - Norway 

Norwegian artist Camille Norment’s sound art installation engages visitors in an unspoken conversation with their slow murmuring, chanting, humming and moaning. Wooden benches where exciters are attached with provide seemingly thoughtful accommodation while listening to the deep and resonant voices. 

Elegant vandalism - UK

British artist Jonathan Owen’s art - an anonymous woman sitting perched on a pedestal to be gawked at. For Owen, his sculpture, part of an ongoing series of work called ‘Untitled,’ is a look at how women are made prisoners of the beauty myth. 



Contemporary narrative  -China

A painting by Chinese artist Dai Xiang shows a contemporary transformation through photographs. The 25m panoramic photo installation also sketches the current realities in China through a dramatic approach and points a finger at issues affecting China. 


‘Payyunur Charadukuthi Kolkali’ – India

A centuries-old Kerala folk art named ‘Payyunur Charadukuthi Kolkali’ was performed at the KMB premises by a group of Indian dancers. 


‘Secret Dialogues’ - India

Indian artist C. Bhagyanath’s ‘Secret Dialogues’ is a story about layers making the transparent apparent. The artwork explores the human act of adding to what comes before to express the relationship between the mind and the body, the human and the animal, the inside and the outside.   

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