Art is often an outlet for human emotions. Everyone understands it differently, perceives it differently. A blotch and/or a splash on an otherwise empty canvas can come with price tags with astronomical numbers. It takes a imaginative man to understand the blotch and a richer man to make it his own.But there are certain forms of art that have no price tags attached. All it asks is that you take time to see beyond the canvas, connect the invisible dots and ponder at the bigger picture that sketches to life within you.
India’s first Biennale hosted by the sleepy town of Kochi opened amidst a cloud of controversy within the local art community concluded in mid March while remaining largely undiscovered.
Although snubbed by most of the papers in India and considered almost a failure by the ones that can spare it’s 2 inches of news, the Kochi Muziri Biennale has a few exhibits which makes one ponder. Here are a few of them.
# The Sovereign Forest
Farmer suicides make news almost every week in the papers.With the rising number of incidents the coverage has moved from the headlines to the bylines. Forgive me but for lack of a better word it has become a cliche. Journalism has conveyed the message to the people. We have received it, felt sorry and moved on to more interesting news. But Amar Kanwar in his work titled ‘The Sovereign Forest’ presents the story of the suicide again, differently. But he does not mention the hardships of the farmers, he does not present the agricultural policies of the government or lack thereof. All he has done is mount small trays on a blackened wall. In the trays he has displayed grains of rice of different variety On stands next to his exhibit he has two books. One of them has the taxonomic name of the grain and in the other book there are names of men. Some names were accompanied by a photo identity. Some accompanied by a date. The date of the suicide.
There are no facts, no reports yet the message is clear.
Leaves of blade glistening in the sun. A crowded street with an auto rickshaw greedily taking more space in the canvas.A almirah with a broken handle. Money lots of money laid out on a bed. A man walking along a narrow path while a mosque towers overhead. A mortuary with a cadaver covered with a checked sheet.
Each of these photographs captures a story stifling it within its frames. The silence within the frames speaks volumes on the atrocities committed to the citizens of Bangladesh by the peace keeping forces.
Kochi Biennale may have been a disaster with reference to political backing and funding but I would not write it off completely. It has got me thinking, thinking of farmers in Orrisa and people in Bangladesh.