Being an Architect

Reflections on the profession, design, art, books and life in general



Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012: Art vs Containing space

Planned on the lines of  Venice Biennale, Kochi-Muziris Biennale has started in Cochin with much fanfare on 12-12-12. The Biennale being a first of its kind event in India, was expected to offer unparalleled and  novel experience for both art lovers and connoisseurs.



Apart from the love for art, I had a great interest in the event primarily because of the context of its settings. Most of the installations are in and around Fortcochin and Mattancherry except for Durbar Hall. The raw power of the spaces itself provides artists enough challenge to match with the tension it creates. The spaces are magnificent and overwhelming, to say the least. It was a joyful act to watch the internationally acclaimed artists expressing themselves and claiming the attention it deserves. Some of the artists, like Sun Xun from China, left a very strong impact with their work. They constantly challenged our notions of art.





I had a chance to have a detailed interaction with artist Paris Viswanadhan near his installation. Though we lacked regular quality events of this scale in past, it was disheartening to see public not recognising some of the best artists country has produced. His was a powerful abstract using sand collected from different parts of the country. I felt sorry for him though when he was mostly asked questions by public about the different types of sand understanding this as a mere geological exhibition. As a practicing architect, the situation seems familiar to me since many of the qualitative design concepts are questioned on quantitative terms by clients (though one cant ignore the importance of quantity in architecture, unlike art.!).



The background for the art is of interesting and robust details which are unmistakably colonial with Portuguese origin.



I had a brief chat with a local auto driver about the event. He was furious about non inclusion of local artists and could not appreciate the much hyped works of art presented. I guess he was not that happy in the end to find that I did not exactly shared his worldview. The event was marred with a lot of controversies, political and apolitical, from its start.

Whatever the reactions, it is a giant leap for the advancement of contemporary art in this part of the world and for sure inspire a lot more to rise above the horizon. It could not have its charm, impact and identity if it was organised around any less quality spaces. I would go ahead and say that Kochi-Muziris Biennale has the potential to be one of the best among the world, because of its unparalleled context.