AS well as Aspinwall House, there are more venues displaying work as part of the Biennale – David Hall, Pepper House, Dutch Warehouse, Kashi Art Café, Cabral Yard and Anand Warehouse.
Singed But Not Burned – Shahidul Alam
Shahidul Alam’s ‘Singed But Not Burnt’ series of photographs is on show at the Mocha Art Cafe in Mattancherry (about 1.5miles/2km away from Aspinwall House).These often combine epic landscapes devastated by climate change with images of people on the streets shackled by poverty and social inequality. No matter what is in focus of his camera, it captures the beauty of the moment.
At the Anand Warehouse, Japanese Yohei Imamura presents new works that serve as an attempt to depict the expansive sceneries of the mountainous regions in his native land. Inspired by his own mountain climbing practice, each hand-painted layer in his work serves as a metaphor for the steps one must take to climb a mountain and reach the summit.
The Family – Shika Soni
Shikha Soni, from New Delhi, is passionate about family ties. In ‘The Family’ she explores herself and her identity, looking at aspects of home, family, and relationships, both interpersonal and intrapersonal, through the lens of intimacy, vulnerability, and psychology. She conducts a thorough investigation into what lies behind the images from an ordinary family album.
Healing Map – Nilofar Shaikh
Gujarati Nilofar Shaikh is passionate about textures, her artistic pursuits, and their relationship with the environment. In ‘Healing Map’ she attempts to document personal trauma, as well as the impossibility of complete healing, comparing this phenomenon to the impossibility of completely erasing, repairing, and filling cracks. The cracked bench becomes a place of rest and conversation, and also demonstrates various attempts at reconciliation.
Contemporary or established global artists (present and past) – Mona Hatoum and William Kentridge; Henri Cartier-Bresson
It is in TCM Warehouse that you will find the work of established global contemporary artists. Among them is British-Palestinian Mona Hatoum, who in her work ‘Untitled’ (2013) reflects on world migrations, refugees and the formation of new borders; here too is the legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who documents in his ‘Games in a refugee camp at Kurukshetra, Punjab, India, 1947’ the life of Indians in a tragic period of history – Partition.
The video installation by the South African artist William Kentridge ‘Oh, To Believe in Another World’ was inspired by Dmitry Shostakovich’s 10th symphony. It depicts famous figures of culture and art of the Soviet Union created in the form of paper puppets. Kentridge considers the 10th Symphony, written by the composer on the eve of Stalin’s death, the most humane and attractive for his interest in the culture of the Soviet Union, which he also explored in his books, ‘I’m not me, the horse is not mine’ (2008) or ‘The Nose’ (2010).
Bombay Tilts Down – CAMP
Also impressive in terms of moving images work is ‘Bombay Tilts Down’ brought to Kochi by the Mumbai group, CAMP.
The multi-channel video installation presents a landscape filmed by a remotely controlled CCTV camera on the roof of a tall building in the centre of Mumbai, covering mostly Lower Parel and Worli neighbourhoods.
The video begins with the sky and the sea, in changing times and unsettled weather, then descending into the city’s everyday life, focusing on the Palais Royal, the tallest building in the city that has stood unfinished for over a decade, the scandal-ridden Samudra Mahal skyscraper. When people appear in the images, it seems that they know about this eye in the sky. The electronic score for the installation was written by BamBoy (Tushar Adhav), who has lived in Parel since childhood. Spoken word and sirens haunt the track.
My Kottige – Archana Hande
Another impressive piece of video work is ‘My Kottige’ by Archana Hande. The Bangalore/Bengaluru artist explores the living archives of everyday life, the rapid urbanisation of ghost towns. The installation is made from household waste, inspired by the sayings of her grandmother. Kalu-Kudka, which literally means drink-drunk ghost, is shaped like a stone, out of place but easily co-existing with the rigid Brahmanical culture of the Hande’s ancestral home. The artist’s work also refers to the evil eye, which is often averted in South Asia, using jalis (perforated screens) to break the continuity of baleful vision, jharokhas (stone lattice windows) to peer in unnoticed, and pillars to hide behind. Hande combines the two elements of Kalu-Kudka and Jharakha together to create sculpture shrines, which support the city’s new Bhoota Sthana (spirit worship ritual), a symbolic sanctuary for protecting the environment from the evil eye of contemporary social conflicts between gender, class, caste, and sexual identity. The viewer cannot enter the sanctuary, but must look at it through the windows.
All pictures unless indicated: ©Tatiana Rosenstein