Viji Ramesh, a homemaker, prepares crab roast in a film in a loop screened in the central hall of Devassy Jose and Sons Warehouse in Mattancherry. The Konkani woman takes viewers through the process as she talks about her kitchen, pounding masalas and cleaning fresh crabs. “I love to cook and I will serve but I am not a servant,” she says.
In another clip, Manju, also from Mattancherry, talks about why the kitchen is her domain, “I do not feel the need to be educated since my husband is educated,” and how her husband lends her a hand when she’s unwell. The film — Who Put Out The Fire — is part of a three-layered project titled, A Place at the Table currently on show till April 10. A satellite exhibition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale the show curated by Kochi-based art and history scholar Tanya Abraham offers an immersive experience.
The exhibition, developed in three phases, reveals various aspects of gender roles and identity through works of Indian and international artists. A large part of the project is interactive. The first phase in 2020 began with a public participation project during the pandemic, where people used food and cooking as a point of recollection and memory. From this evolved two audio exhibits: Trial and Error by Paul Natraj and Kalpit’s Kitchen by Leonie Roessler. There is also an audio-visual work, Chai pe Charcha by Anuradha Bhansal that concerns an everyday telephone conversation between two women whilst making tea. A total of 25 artists participated in the project.
Tanya has used the element of memory to deconstruct an idea. A sound sculpture was constructed from nine panels on Bazaar Road and the sound works pertaining to memory and location can be accessed via QR codes. This was created along with sound engineers Arun Varma and Navin Varkey from Kochi. Explains Tanya, “It throws open the idea of the impact of ideologies on the human mind.”
“The curatorial work has considered aspects of the common, social-everyday actors giving attention to human senses through visual and sound works,” says Tanya. On its interesting playout through the intriguing spaces of the warehouse that finally leads to the waterfront, she says, “The site-specific creation of art concerning the subject in specificity, intersperses deliberately through the given architectural space.”
Parts of the exhibition can be accessed at the TAOS (The Art Outreach Society) website, www.taos.org
The show is on at Devassy Jose and Sons Warehouse, Mattancherry till April 10