1. How do you understand or interpret Whorled Explorations?
The curatorial note touches upon many areas of human endeavour, which have carried out physical, mental and existential exploration of the world and the universe. Myth, history, religion, colonialism and the understanding of time are the areas that fascinated me when I thought about the ideas inherent in Whorled Explorations.
2. Can you briefly speak about your work, and how it engages with the space at Kochi?
My work is a 13 feet high suspended bell, which is 16 feet in diameter at the bottom, titled Chronicles of the shore foretold. For the installation, they lifted a large size bell made of steel to keep it suspended on the iron structure, which was constructed on the shore of the backwaters, with their local techniques and support system. This whole concept was like a performance to incorporate their labour into the work. The bell is pierced all over and has water jetting out from each hole. Water is being pumped up to the bell from the backwaters and the water falls back to the source.
Bells made and raised to suspend above the ground are a significant move to understand the universal perception of time. Different techniques are used through the centuries to hang the bell. Many attempts in the past were brought down by the sheer heaviness of it and the eternal force of gravity. No matter whether it was executed successfully or not, the effort has always been appreciated and documented in history.
If we imagine the bell as symbolically representing time, the flow of water from it could be caused by the intention of puncturing time. When we puncture time, we lose history. When we lose history, the act of suspension becomes meaningless. The effort, the manpower and the will to fulfil a task, get eroded by the act of puncturing.
The seashore on the Arabian Sea has tales of an enormous huge bell brought by the sea from Europe in order to be installed in a church, but unfortunately the ship sank in the sea due to the heaviness of the bell. The story goes that every year during the church festival the bell emerges from the sea and rings by itself. The connection between the powerful deity and its colonial origin is maintained by this miracle.
The act of human labour has gone a lot technically sophisticated over the last few years. The physical effort of human has been reduced to the lowest because of the advancement in technology. The effort of an action now exists only in the mind of the one who intents it. But the local version of the basic labour and its will to move the unmovable somehow rekindles the strength of the labour in the most inhuman times of ours.
3. In what way does the Biennale enhance your capacity to show, interact, engage?
The Biennale has given me all the support to construct this huge artistic undertaking. Even though they were having a really hard time raising funds for the project they initiated dialogue with various museums and organizations and finally got funds from the Johann Jacobs Museum, Zurich. The other most important initiative by the Kochi Biennale was to introduce each artist through their brilliant ‘Let us talk’ program. Every artist who made their first visit to Kochi was introduced by the curator and organizers to the local public through this program. The Biennale also did a series of short films on the visiting artists, which has been viewed by thousands through their web site as well as various social media.
To my understanding all these efforts are very unique ideas in order to spread the awareness of art and art making by the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Foundation.
4. How do you rate the Biennale/the Biennale experience?
I rate this as a 99% successful event which I think is nearly unattainable in the present Indian art scene.