Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014

Leaving the mountains behind, we arrived in Kochi a couple of days later. It was a hellish ride through the super busy modern Enarkulem part of the seaside city, which you have to zigzag all the way through to get to he bridges that lead to the cosy, old Fort Kochi which has a dreamy old India feel to it. Once there, we settled into Adam’s Old Inn. It was slightly above budget, but for India it was super clean, had a hot shower and even WiFi! Anyways, when Aidan walked off to find a cheaper place, they were either closed for a siesta or even pricier. And now that we’d seen how pretty the fort was, nothing would persuade us to move to the horrible Enarkulem side just to save a couple of rupees a night!

The funky little Oy’s Cafe with pillow-decked low benches and a book shelf was just across the road. It was so busy, strangers ended up sharing tables. I love it when that happens… you get to meet wickid new people without needing an excuse to start talking to someone. An art student from Australia called Lea came to sit with us. She had pink hair, so I decided she must be awesome as soon as she approached 🙂 And she did no disappoint.

Luckily for us her flight to Delhi had been cancelled and so she had the afternoon free to tell us all about the Kochi-Muziris Biennale that was on since December. And according to her all the best stuff was exhibited at Aspinwall House (which has some awesome tiles that are decorated on the underside), so we wouldn’t have to go far. As the art expert she was, she would surely know! Thanks for the tip Lea 🙂

So a day was spent wandering around the exhibition. There were arrows all over the place pointing towards the ticket booth. But it was all a little confusing as to where they were actually pointing to and so we just strolled in unhindered. Here are some of our favourite pieces. I geniously didn’t mark down the names of all the artists, so I’ll see what Google has to offer. Apologies in advance if some are missing….


Alternative Shapes of the Earth was pretty cool almost in a steam punk meets mechanic sort of way.

Then there is Madhusudhanan with his wickidly wired charcoal drawings.

922 Rice Corns by Yang Zhengzhonga seems strange. It’s a video of rice being thrown on the floor and then a rooster and a chicken peck them. A male and female voice count as each one pecks and a countdown at the bottom shows how many each have eaten as well as the total. A comment on consumerism and inequalities between male and female apparently and kind of mesmerizing to watch.

Aidan’s favourite was a big black blob in the room. If he had a living room, he would have put it in the middle of it. Luckily for me our tent is too small.

That same artist, Sahej Rahai also created lots of little clay shapes and creatures that looked freakishly intriguing. Imagine them lined up on your grandma’s top kitchen shelf, instead of her favourite china pots 🙂

Then there is the creepy one which had a black blob of paint seemingly slipping down a wall Dali-style and some tiny hands holding a sheet of paper as still as possible but always moving a tiny bit…

Lavanya Mani’s Traveller’s Tales were kinda pretty…

The Column video by Adrian Paci is pretty cool! But read for yourself what its all about:

We missed this one and only saw the end result. It was one of those where the creational process was the art piece itself. Still, it had left an interesting atmosphere behind in the room. The drawings on the wall depict the actual view you would see if it was a window.

It’s a nice view over the waters which surround Fort Kochi.

Parvathi Nayar’s drawings on wooden panels caught Aidan’s eye.

Hew Locke’s Sea Power were a collection of huge towering creatures seemingly painted on the wall with dripping ink. But when you step closer you see it’s strings of cord and beads.

There were also three super big amazing charcoal drawings. I took pictures of two and left out Aidan’s favourite. Whoops!

My favourite piece of all was the huge ‘silk painting’ by Xu Bing


Then there is the creepy blood diamond by Prashant Pandey which is made out of lots of petri dishes with people’s blood on. It’s ugly, but it definitely gets your thoughts going.


Another very powerful installation was that of the burning ship (a video projection on the wall) surrounded by a sea millions of photos covering the floor of the entire room with only a small walkway across. It was so powerful and beautiful that I got completely engrossed in it and forgot to take note of the artist’s name. Even the actual story escapes my memory now… Something about a tragedy in Asia with millions of lives lost I think…. Only the images remain.


I am fascinated by photos, even if they are of people I never met and places I have never been. So the room divided up by sort of shelves on which lots and lots of framed photos were mounted had me meander through and stare for ages. Again I completely failed to take note of the artists name or the story. I believe it was a collection of all the pictures (of him or by him or both?) throughout his life.

Another fascinating piece was that of being in two places at the same time. The artist had set up a camera further front of the train that fed the live video to a laptop placed at the window further back of the same train. So as the train was moving you could “see” out of the front and back window at the same time. It’s difficult to show in photos but seeing the video really messes with your head.


Marie Velardi tells the history of the future along a fascinating timeline compiling the events films and fictions have documented.

And the final piece I’ll tell you about is the golden splash. It looks pretty impressive and insignificant at the same time. But of course the camera hasn’t bothered making it look very golden at all…

There are more venues for the Bienhnale, but after wandering in and out of every building and up and down every stair case of the Aspinwall complex, we felt sufficiently arty farty to head to the next pub for a giant ice-cold Kingfisher 🙂

One response to “Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014

  1. I was there at the Biennale this weekend (for the second time). The first time I was there for work. I had the chance to meet Lindy Lee whose work you’ve featured. The Biennale was just amazing! I made a list of some of the works I liked here- https://sukanyaramanujan.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/works-that-caught-my-eye-at-the-kochi-biennale/
    Did you catch Anish Kappor’s descension? And I agree staying in Fort Kochi is way better than Ernakulam!


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