Visiting the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2012

Yamini Telkar of Saffronart shares her experience of attending India’s first biennale in Kochi

Entrance to the Kochi Muziris Biennale12/12/12

Entrance to the Kochi Muziris Biennale

New Delhi: My trip from Delhi to Kochi for the opening ceremony of the Biennale was besieged with delays and it took me the entire day to get there. I thought I would have missed the opening ceremony, which was scheduled to start at 4.30 pm, but of course it was a gross miscalculation on my part, as the spectacle had just started at 7.00 pm, so I managed to catch most of it. However unlike any Art Fair events, where one exclusively encounters the art community, this was an open-for-all event so it was difficult to find artists, gallerists,  especially if one walked in late, like me! But I managed to meet most of the art world in the beautiful heritage restaurants and walking around the picturesque Fort Kochi.

Aspin Wall Hall

Aspinwall Hall

The next day, recharged, I set about visiting the venues. What really helped me plan it was advise from friends who had fumbled along, so with timely interventions I really managed to view all the works spread across 5 venues: Aspinwall Hall, a 19th century sprawling spice warehouse which housed most of the installations; Pepper Hall; Mandalay House in Jew Town; and 2 other venues, which were not named.

Installation by Sudarshan Shetty

Installation by Sudarshan Shetty

Installation by Subodh Gupta

Installation by Subodh Gupta

And as already reported by the media I was unable to see quite a few works which were still in the process of being installed.

Installation by L. N. Tallur

Installation by L. N. Tallur

Installation by Anant Joshi

Installation by Anant Joshi

If there was one word that would describe the art on display it would be scale – it was almost as if each artist wanted to outdo the others through scale. One could say the space demanded such large scale works, and it worked for some installations like L.N. Tallur’s mega roof, or Vivan Sundaram’s work using the terracotta remains from the archaeological site of Muziris. But the most poignant was Valsan Kolleri’s work where he used a tiny back room and used the material from the building.

Read more about the biennale here.

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I loved the Biennale! I foolishly allotted just half a day thinking it would be more than enough but just managed to view the works displayed at Aspinwall, Pepper House, Moidu’s Heritage and David Hall. I hated having to rush through Aspinwall because it was closing time. But, you’re right, some of those big spaces demanded installations that would match them.

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