Spectators become art topic at Kochi biennial

Silently observing the spectators visiting the Biennial inspired four students to create an innovative art work showcasing the culture and history of Kochi.

The four students- Leon Xavier, Manu Mohan, Ramesh Raman and Vishnu Manoharan— went an extra mile to collect material for an innovative art work they eventually put together after speaking to people from various walks of life who visited the Kochi-Muziris Biennial.

The result is a fascinating installation, featuring bits from the long history and unique culture of this ancient cosmopolitan city — at Aspinwall House, the main venue of the cultural jamboree, at Fort Kochi.

These students of Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts got guidance from an instructor at their institute in Mavelikkara in completing ‘Silent Dialogues’, with an array of black and white photographs and hand-written items backed by an audio commentary— the common man’s bytes about Kochi. “We recorded all the responses we got from the biennial visitors,” Leon said, adding “We also clicked their photos.”

‘Silent Dialogues’ includes people of a range of activity and nationality — from local small-time hotelier Gangadharan Swamy to Mads Mengal of faraway Denmark. If Swamy gushes that the ongoing three-month festival has lent fresh lease of life to Fort Kochi, “He basically means his business is prospering of late,” Ramesh noted.

The comments compile a lot of curious elements. C J Antony, a resident of local Vallarpadom island, says he fears whether sea tides would drown Kochi by 2020, while Gabri and Obri from Canada note that the city’s people have the habit of beginning their sentences with a ‘Yes’.

P S Sunil, a civil police officer, has a more serious matter to say, “Organise and fight against a flourishing hooch business in Kochi”.

The artist students say their basic aim was to give a single platform to divergent views about the same matter on a historic occasion.

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