Street Art Kochi
Kochi is a dreamscape of 18th century Dutch and Portuguese architecture floating on lush green islands in a tropical sea. It is the land of Kathkali, of pepper, all things ginger, fragrant spices and coconuts, ancient churches congregated by believers whose ancestors were evidently converted by St (Doubting) Thomas himself, and the oldest synagogue in the British Empire.
These-a-days it’s pretty much a lovely playground for tourists, exotic, charming, unique and chockers with galleries, coffee shops, performance spaces and restaurants.
But Kerala’s tourism this year has been hit hard and auto drivers pounce at every corner, imploring you to go to this shop or that on the basis that they will receive a rice coupon. We do it a few times each day but duck them after that.
Imagine our delight to stumble upon the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Show, a sumptuous offering spread out over Fort Kochi but centred in a beautiful old series of warehouses and admin buildings from the early days of the spice trade known as Aspinwall House.
Art is always about communication and some do this gloriously – in this instance William Kentridge exhibited this dance macabre silhouette of life sized outlines trudging across several screens in a warehouse sized space.
There is street art, political statements, the guerilla girls waving the banner. Kerala is a communist state -its art abounds on the streets.
Mother Theresa even gets a look-in.
Apart from Kentridge two of our other highs are:
Vinu VV, an artist from the Dalit community which still “lives at the fringes of social and communal acceptance” sculpts wooden pieces that are influenced by his community and its “ritualistic art practices.
Shirin Neshat (seen below) is a New York-based Iranian visual artist whose haunting video piece lyrically and mesmerizingly musically conveys a longing for her homeland.