Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Art matters

A Guesswho creation in Fort Kochi
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an interesting idea. Not merely because it is an event that has been started by artists, but because it has got people in the region, particularly those in Kerala, thinking about art.
Of course, what art is, is another matter altogether. What for me is art could be pretentious junk for someone else and vice-versa. 
Visiting Kochi a few weeks ago, the biennale popped up in almost every conversation I had. Not all the people I spoke to will actually visit the biennale — which ends on 29 March — but they were aware of it and interested in it.
And at the biennale itself, what was really exciting was to see that a large number of visitors were from Kochi and other parts of Kerala. Equally interesting were the expressions — or lack of them — on the faces of many visitors. In some instances, visitors’ expressions were actually more fascinating than the art on display. 
A Guesswho creation in Fort Kochi
Artists whose work struck me and linger in my mind include Benitha Perciyal, Lavanya Mani, Anish Kapoor, K. M. Vasudevan Namboodiri, Dayanita Singh, Gigi Scaria, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Martin Creed, Nikhil Chopra and Daniel Boyd.
For me though, the most striking intellectual souvenir of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 has to be Guesswho’s art on the streets, even though it isn’t part of the event’s official programming. At first glance, the artist’s arresting marriage of local and global themes and icons evokes laughter. But then, you realise how layered they are. I was especially struck by the one next to the ticket booth at the Fort Kochi ferry station; the one featuring yesteryears Malayalam film star Prem Nazir as James Bond and the eclectic ecosystem of posters that had sprouted around it several weeks ago — public speaking classes, yoga, labour unions, a religious convention and the man with the gun. That’s a heady mix.  

No comments: