Kochi- Muziris Biennale Day 1

Given our punctuality, it was a surprise that four of us reached the station on time to catch the train. We were travelling to Kochin Muziris Biennale. I had been bogged down by work for the entire month and I was delegating tasks till the moment I got into the local train to Central station. I thought I would never enjoy the art work. I had never enjoyed abstractness in my life. Whatever I saw or read in the internet was nothing but abstract. Our party was engrossed in a discussion about the cultural and attitudinal shift that happened suddenly after 2012, and if that was what Mayans called end of the world, didn’t realize the train started half an hour late. We already had only one and half days to spend in Kochi. And that decreased by another one hour. Fighting the cold winds which pierced bones at night and the boredom of near empty compartments after Coimbatore, we finally reached Kochi. The home stay was good for a reasonable price and the good owner lent his vehicles for us. I was still not convinced about what we were going to do in an art exhibition. I knew two people in our party would enjoy the exhibition. One of them was the person who recommended the trip and the other one was the photographer. I was having a mental block to accept new things and I was not so sure about the other person because he is the most adaptive person I have ever met. If I did not enjoy the art installations, I thought, I would atleast enjoy watching our guys.

Truth be told, it all changed the moment we stepped into the Aspinwall Hall. We had to get tickets from there and this huge sea front property was exquisitely modified to house all the art installations. There was this guided tour but the participation was low. The first two installations we saw made no sense to me. Someone had dug a big hole and poured concrete in it. Yes, that was the art installation. The ticket to biennale  was just a hundred rupees. But I had spent more than 1500 rs to reach Kochi. The stay and the food everything came to my mind and it was unsettling. I realized that was not the only thing that was bothering me. I had submitted my manuscript to a critic group. We were supposed to meet the next week for feedback. While I was very eager to know what they thought about my work, I was not very sure about the quality of work I had submitted. One morning when I woke up, I had this urge to write and in the next twenty days I had written fifty thousand words. A very kind soul helped me weed out the grammatical mistakes of the manuscript. But still I was not sure if I had conveyed what I wanted to convey in the manuscript. I could work on the manuscript again with fresh eyes and make it better. But all I was looking for the instant gratification. I wanted them to like what I had written. But I knew it was impossible. And it bothered me. I was wondering about the title which I had taken up by myself, A writer, might be reduced just a vanity.

Pyramid of Exiled Poets:

But it all disappeared when we went to explore the third installation. The pyramid of exiled poets is a ten minutes walk in the darkness. It chronicles the hopelessness of the exiled poets. The structure is similar to what one could see in Egypt. It is made up of wood, mud and dung. As we enter the dark maze inside the pyramid we are hit by the voices of poets who were exiled out of their nation by their fascist leaders. People who disagreed with them. People who just didn’t like their work. The voices were sad. Even though, I couldn’t understand a single word being said, the way it was told and the overlapping of voices was way too similar to me. It felt like the voice which speaks, sometimes yells in my mind when I write my longer works. “This is hopeless” “Nobody is going to like it” “you know what, you can spare them the torture” and the helpless voice which I imagine to be mine “I can do better” “I just need some practice” “I will make it work”. Though closed spaces suffocate me and darkness scare me a bit, I didn’t want to come out of this pyramid. I felt I belonged there. I finished the walk in the pyramid sandwiched between the voice of hopelessness and hope. At least the installation had light at the end of the tunnel. And it was my photographer friend who held the torch for me so that I don’t stumble on things.

It was hard to shake the strong emotions which the pyramid gave me. I was hopeful that I would enjoy the rest of the art work. Only I underestimated the number of art installations in Aspinwall house. Other installations evoked some hope in me as a writer.


Sea of Pain

The next one which unsettled me was “The Sea of Pain”. The installation was dedicated to Galip Kurdi, who was the brother of Alan Kurdi. Yes that young kid who lie face-down in turkey sea shore which broke millions of hearts across the world. The poem is about his brother who drowned in the same sea but somehow people didn’t talk about him that much. Also the struggle of their father who couldn’t save both his children is depicted in this wonderful installation. The art installation is a five thousand square feet warehouse kind of setting where the verses are written in the walls. The far end of the ware house has the details about the poem and the poet. From the door, you will have to wade through sea water till your knees. We struggle walk in a straight line, the water splashes on our face, wetting our dresses and suddenly we feel like we are in middle of the ocean, questioning the democracy we had created in which innocent lives are lost because of our inability to accept new cultures and refusal to help people. The sea of pain is indeed a sea of pain.

Dance of death:

What would you think of a room illuminated with light bulbs. I felt really happy and it looked straight out of the sets of Kappa TV Music Mojo show. But I was looking at it from a different angle. When the volunteer suggested me to go to the other door and have a look at the installation, I was spell bound. Here is what I wrote about it when I clicked it for instagram. Personally, it is my favorite because it is by an Indian artist, Yardena Kurulkar.

I can go on and on to write about the art installation in Aspinwall House. After walking around for more than four hours, we cooled our heels in Fort Kochi beach and then called it a day.

வெற்றிடம் ஒன்று உருவாகும்போது வேறு ஏதேனும் ஒன்று நிச்சயம் அங்கு வந்து நிரம்பிக்கொள்ளும் என்பது தவிர்க்க முடியாத சித்தாந்தமாக இருக்கலாம். அதற்கு காலமும் ஆவல் கொள்ளலாம். ஆனால், சில உறவுகள் ஏற்படுத்தும் வெற்றிடங்கள் எத்தகைய சித்தாந்தங்களுக்கும் இசைந்து கொடுப்பதில்லை. உலகின் சித்தாந்தங்களுக்கெல்லாம் அப்பாற்பட்ட அந்த வெற்றிடத்தின் வலி என்றைக்கும் நிரந்தரமானது..!

A post shared by Bragadeesh Prasanna (@mrniceguy467) on

These are just highlights of the day. I will come back with more in my next post. Watch this space.


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