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