Whorled Explorations at Muziris Biennale

Kochi – The Queen of Arabian Sea, the gentle mistress of all spices, the comforting womb for exhausted ships, and the point of communion of various religions, races, ethnicity and languages. If you look back, there were kings, merchants, sailors, revolutionaries, communists and the ever dilapidated working class who all made this pinnacle of natural beauty their home. Kochi welcomes them all, unyielding. It is this acceptance, this wholeheartedness which makes Kochi an artist, which makes her palpable to emotion, which makes her emotionally stable and mentally exotic. There are very little places in the world today which has the necessary accredits to host an international art fest like Kochi. Her everyday life is a subtle art, her breathing’s like color on canvas.

‘Muziris Biennale’ a bi-annual international arts fest, the first of its kind to be held in India, with the 2014 edition featuring 95 artists, half of whom are foreigners is a specter which fits ever so well with the humidity, waves and winds of Kochi. Here the disoriented artistic voices unite, their dissimilar lives string together, their ideas conjoin into a rudimentary flash of fierce force, which overpowers you and leaves you gazing in awe.

The 2014 edition with the tagline ‘Whorled Explorations’ is in a way a prompt, a motivation to keep exploring the many faces of life and art, to enchant our momentary lives with something immortal. The irony is at once gripping and powerful. All over the exhibits the tagline is visible, the theme stands out eloquently. The world is waiting to be explored, and the Biennale asks you to do the same with the eyes of a child. A man once said great art is either plagiarism or revolution, and Biennale shouts for the revolution to begin! What I found in the Biennale was a complete sensual completion where every last of your senses – visual, auditory, odour, touch and taste blend with the deeper sense of intellect and imagination to bring out a resultant emotional and mental completion. You don’t just watch the Biennale, rather you exist with it, and you don’t just exist with it, you live inside the minds of the artist, become part of the art, all for to become immortal.

‘Powers of 10’ by Charles and Ray Eames, minimalist poems by Aram Saroyan, ‘Undercurrent’ by Mona Hatoum, charcoal drawings by Madhusudhanan, ‘922 Rice Corns’ by Yand Zhengzhong, ‘The Distance of a Day’ by David Horwitz, ‘Harbinger’ by Sahaj Rahal, ‘Background Story’ by Xu Bing, drawings of Artist Namboodiri, a lively documentary by Mithu Sen, ‘Iceboat’ by Neha Choksi, ‘In Between the Pages’ by Sumakshi Singh, charcoal art by Daniel Boyd, ‘We are All Astronauts’ by Julian Charriere, ‘NO, IT IS’ by William Kentridge and ‘Silence and its Reflections’ by Hema Upadhyay are works that should not be missed if you are a living human being. It is true that you need not be an artist to enjoy an art; you just need to have a furious mind. One would certainly be compelled to be furious in thoughts after the Biennale, which I can assure. What makes Biennale more captivating is the works that go with it, the graffiti, street art, murals, wall paintings, the Arabian sea, the Chinese nets, the sound of waves and the kiss of winds. Everything is art, everything is alive!

Biennale is a must see for all humanity, it is an event which makes us human beings, which makes us think, which makes us co-exist in peace, which erases differences and create an unyielding unity, pretty much like the Queen, very alike to her commanding sea.

My walks to self realization continues, but from today it shall take a new perception a new motive, a destination with borders painted in all seven colours, a distant canvas which persuades me to keep going and paint my own work of art!

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PEACE

'We Are All Astronauts' by Julian Charriere

‘We Are All Astronauts’ by Julian Charriere

Graffiti outside Aspinwall House

Graffiti outside Aspinwall House

'Undercurrent' by Mona Hatoum

‘Undercurrent’ by Mona Hatoum

A wall painting at Mattanchery showing Malayalam writer Kamala Surayya

A wall painting at Mattanchery showing Malayalam writer Kamala Surayya

Another graffiti

Another graffiti at Mattanchery

Charcoal drawing by Madhusudhanan

Charcoal drawing by Madhusudhanan

The shortest poem of the World by Aram Saroyan

The shortest poem of the World by Aram Saroyan

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Sands, Sea and Sun at the Bekal – 13th March 2014

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Bekal is a small town, located at the Northern part of Kerala. To be exact an 8 km ride separates the town from Kanhangad, and going due North you could reach Kasaragod after 18 km.

Gifted with natural and archaeological wonders, Bekal is the place to be if you want to relax in the shades of history as well as a coconut tree (which I must say is abundant in these parts of the state). But surely the single and commanding attraction for any tourist is indeed the Bekal Fort.

Constructed by Shivappa Nayaka of Bednore in 1650 AD, the Bekal Fort spreads over a vast 40 acres of land, making it the largest fort in Kerala. But what strikes you at first sight is not the exquisite stone artistry but the calmness (both mental and spiritual) which you receive out of the place. Constructed entirely as a defensive unit and not as an administrative unit also grants the fort a genuine uniqueness.

The elegant design of the Fort captivates both historians and travelers which I believe served as the reason for large investments to flow towards this seaside town.

Here are a few snaps I took on my visit :

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While the fort gives you a walk back into history and the glorious days of Indian architecture, the sands nearby speak of the natural beauty coastal Kerala is endowed with.

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Though like in every one of my travels, the displeasure with a mismanaged system continued. One could see floating debris in the Bekal Beach, which range from liquor bottles to plastic covers. Sometimes, I wonder if it is an innate Indian nature to disrespect the divine tunes of nature.

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Anyhow, for a person who wishes to fill his futile hours with abundant wonder and beauty, there are very little places to be other than Bekal.

ADVICE to fellow tourists :

1. Spent time in and around Bekal, walk, watch the Sea and Sand, and the delicate lives, plants and animals.

2. Never visit the Fort or the beach in the afternoon. The heat would sometime be too much to handle

3. Carry water with you. The shops nearby offer bottled water and other drinks at higher prices than in the normal market.

4. Be wary of autorikshaws

5. Enjoy

On my way back, I had a thought. A virulent thought. Perhaps the winds of Bekal planted the thought upon my fertile mind. Somewhere North in Kasaragod lies a few villages tortured by a chemical storm. I don’t know why, but I got down from my bus and took the next bus towards Perla at Kasaragod. I never met a person who faced the hardships due to Endosulfan, never asked about the well being of anyone. I stood there for a while, and felt for that minuscule moment, every human hope and suffering suddenly mixed with my solitary loitering.

The ever changing moods of Princess Kodai – Dec 23 2013

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There are very little things a man can do when caught in the charms of beauty Kodaikanal offers to him. The name itself means ‘Gift of the forests’, and indeed it is a gift both to the eye and the heart. Adorned as the princess of all hills, Kodai is rather a queen which brings a royal magnificence and spreads it around for the whole world to rejoice. Yet, one feels the economic side of Kodai has pulled her into a place she never wish to tread. You could see plastics all around; rejected carry bags, paper, garbage that the consumerism of the tourism industry leaves her with at the end of the season. Yet the splendor of Kodai still remains etched in time.

There are lot that could be said about the princess. She has a history of being owned by the Palaiyar tribes in the very distant past and being visited by a variety of people which include American missionaries and English bureaucrats during the time of colonization. She has an exploding tourism industry that she holds ever so well on her back. Being a hotspot, I would rather warn you not to be mislead into what guides would offer you with, cause the beauty of Kodai should be felt by yourself, in her subtle change of skies, in her evil spread of mists, and her calm array of forests. Rather than using the powered transport, I would suggest a visitor to use the bikes available at a very minimal cost and to go out exploring Kodai’s vast beauty on your free will.

I am pretty certain that any of her visitors would find it hard to go away from the alluring force of Kodai. Yet, I had the pleasure of bidding her goodbye in the night. And in my descent the valley beneath offered me a sight to behold. A million lights were spread across, greeting me and my thoughts on that winter night. It pulled me out of Kodai’s prowess, and maybe asked me to continue my journeys into self discovery more so than ever. So anyone who has the pain of bidding adieu to the princess, I would suggest you do it at night, because I assure the charm of the valley at night would wipe away the tears in your eyes.

To Virajpet – 13th Dec 2013

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Well, Virajpet is not exactly a tourist hotspot, nor does it enchant you in any particular way. But if you want to be lost into the heart of Karnataka, I would recommend you to choose Virajpet, partly because of its buzzing atmosphere and an amazing market. My visit was short, with the only precise aim to get my thoughts straight. And the best thing that could happen today was the cool breeze and the magnificent boundary of hills that Virajpet presented me with. Both of them served their purpose I presume, because the moment I took my trip back to Thalassery, I promised to the town, that someday I shall return again. Indeed, my loiterings shall continue. At more places, I shall continue to lose myself, and be at one with the beating world.