Mauritius will send artists for the next edition: minister

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale hosted a number of luminaries on Thursday. Artist Namboodiri had a taste of his first biennale ever and at the end of the visit, he observed that it presented a tasteful ‘amalgamation of art and history.’

He said the exhibits at the debut Indian biennale were powerful enough to transport the viewers from the realm of sight to that of thought.

The veteran artist cited the installation of Amsterdam-based Kenyan Ibrahim Qureshi at Pepper House to drive home the point of the intrinsic connect between music and fine art. “Music is the mother of all arts. When that fails, all allied arts fade,” he was quoted in a biennale release.

Mauritius’s Minister of Arts and Culture Mukeshwar Choonee, who was enamoured of the range and depth of the art show, vowed to send artists from the island-country for the next edition of the biennale. He lauded the event as offering an enlightening exposure to humanity with its blend of history with the ethos of the contemporary world. T.P Seetharam, Indian High Commissioner to Mauritius, accompanied the minister on the visit.

NRI businessman P. Mohammed Ali said the biennale gave the State a new reason to boast its cultural contributions to the world. S. Ajayakumar, former principal of Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts in Mavelikkara and the College of Fine Arts in Thiruvananthapuram, women’s rights activist Sunitha Krishnan (of the NGO Prajwala), and her husband and filmmaker Rajesh Touchriver visited the biennale on Thursday.

Wonder in art

On Tuesday, poet and litterateur K. Satchidanandan got to read his own poem in translation at the Biennale. At Aspinwall House, he saw a photocopy of his poem ‘The Poet to Poetry’ stuck up alongside ‘Celebration in a laboratory,’ the photo installation of artist Atul Dodiya.

The English rendering of the poem acts as a preamble to the photo installation. It doesn’t mention the name of the poet, though. According to a biennale press release, Mr. Satchidanandan took time to carefully read the lines, which Mr. Dodiya, 53, a graduate of the J.J. School of Arts, had hailed as “totally about the creative process.”

The Delhi-based Mr. Satchidanandan, 66, did know that the ongoing three-month art festival featured a section inspired by a poem that was part of his 2005 anthology ‘Stammer and Other Poems.’

“I don’t personally know Mr. Dodiya, but, yes, I know the artist,” Mr. Satchidanandan was quoted in the release. “But quite a few faces in the set of his images here are my friends or acquaintances.”

The lines are about a poet quarrelling with his poetry, which “obstinately refuses to do what he wants it to do,” according to Mr. Satchidanandan. “The poem tries to reveal the element of unexpectedness and wonder in art that I so much believe in.”

He said the biennale gave the experience of art marrying reality. “The biennale gives one the impression that art is basically an extension of reality. More often than not, the visitor will take an artistic work for another piece of article, and vice versa,” he said.

“It can teach us how visual art can stir all our five senses.”

Noting that a biennale required major organisational abilities and financial backing, he called upon artists and aesthetes to support the event. “The biennale has succeeded in evoking the curiosity of common people. It has changed their general perception of art,” he said. “It has also benefited Kochi to become an attractive cultural destination.”

Tuesday also witnessed visits by Orissa Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patra; Union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna; India’s Ambassador to Iraq S.K. Reddy; and Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa.

Fillip to culture tourism

Biennial events Kochi-Muziris Biennale and Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) have come together to give a fillip to culture tourism in the State.

Based on a pact signed the other day, KTM — comprising mainly hoteliers, tour operators, operators of Ayurvedic spas, home stays, and houseboats — will chip in to support the bankrupt biennale by enrolling under its ‘sponsor a day’ scheme, said biennale trustee and hotelier Jose Dominic.

KTM members, who join the scheme, would arrange special facilities for their guests to visit biennale venues across this city, he added.

For the Kochi Biennale Foundation, the tie-up is in recognition of its efforts to promote art. Biennale curator Bose Krishnamachari said the collaboration with KTM, a coming together of people working for Kerala’s tourism promotion, would act as a global advertisement for the biennale.