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December 14, 2012

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012: Art vs Containing space

Planned on the lines of  Venice Biennale, Kochi-Muziris Biennale has started in Cochin with much fanfare on 12-12-12. The Biennale being a first of its kind event in India, was expected to offer unparalleled and  novel experience for both art lovers and connoisseurs.

Apart from the love for art, I had a great interest in the event primarily because of the context of its settings. Most of the installations are in and around Fortcochin and Mattancherry except for Durbar Hall. The raw power of the spaces itself provides artists enough challenge to match with the tension it creates. The spaces are magnificent and overwhelming, to say the least. It was a joyful act to watch the internationally acclaimed artists expressing themselves and claiming the attention it deserves. Some of the artists, like Sun Xun from China, left a very strong impact with their work. They constantly challenged our notions of art.


I had a chance to have a detailed interaction with artist Paris Viswanadhan near his installation. Though we lacked regular quality events of this scale in past, it was disheartening to see public not recognising some of the best artists country has produced. His was a powerful abstract using sand collected from different parts of the country. I felt sorry for him though when he was mostly asked questions by public about the different types of sand understanding this as a mere geological exhibition. As a practicing architect, the situation seems familiar to me since many of the qualitative design concepts are questioned on quantitative terms by clients (though one cant ignore the importance of quantity in architecture, unlike art.!).

The background for the art is of interesting and robust details which are unmistakably colonial with Portuguese origin.

I had a brief chat with a local auto driver about the event. He was furious about non inclusion of local artists and could not appreciate the much hyped works of art presented. I guess he was not that happy in the end to find that I did not exactly shared his worldview. The event was marred with a lot of controversies, political and apolitical, from its start.

Whatever the reactions, it is a giant leap for the advancement of contemporary art in this part of the world and for sure inspire a lot more to rise above the horizon. It could not have its charm, impact and identity if it was organised around any less quality spaces. I would go ahead and say that Kochi-Muziris Biennale has the potential to be one of the best among the world, because of its unparalleled context.


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    1. Thanks for the feedback and good words. Appreciating the support.


  2. I have one word to describe it…..”Amazing”!!!....It was creativity at its best. Every artist trying to outdo the others. Infact it just got better and better every time you visit the next exhibit.
    Though, I have been out of active Architecture, this was quite an inspiration and encouragement to know that we as architects are connected to art in some way or the other.
    Contemporary art forms displayed here set new blazing routes exploding into the senses of both the artist and the art lover. Some of the graffiti works were testing the limits of aesthetic and intellectual senses.
    Art has been popularized and revolutionized through graffiti and street art in many countries in Europe and US. The constant exchanges of ideas and interchange of thoughts through art in public spaces always gave a channel to vigorous public view, protests and opinions on various social and cultural issues and events. Thus forming a cultural space among people.
    I see this as a good opportunity for enhancing the diverse art forms not just in Kerala but also in India and this should open the window to a larger cultural space around the world.

    1. Thanks for chipping in bro!

      Yeah, it really is shaking up the contemporary art scene in India...Hope the waves get extended to all art forms including architecture.