Kochi

Breathing life into Black Pearl

A 52-hour performance by artist Nikhil Chopra, which is on at Aspinwall House, is turning out to be one of the most curious and provocative works of the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

A 52-hour performance by artist Nikhil Chopra, which is on at Aspinwall House, is turning out to be one of the most curious and provocative works of the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.  

more-in

A man is sitting relaxed in the middle of a cell. He is stripped to his underwear and has his face and body blackened. He eats, sleeps and –most importantly- draws on the walls behind. Around him, onlookers ebb and flow, while the artist, oblivious to his audience, continues to perform.

Le Perle Noire: Le Marais, a 52 hour performance by the Goa-based artist Nikhil Chopra, which is on at the Aspinwall House is turning out to be one of the most curious and provocative work during the second edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale. No wonder then that his life performance art is drawing visitors in large numbers right from its beginning on Saturday evening.

The artist, whose characters are generally built around India’s colonial past, takes on the persona of the Black Pearl who inhabits a cell and, on the walls, draws focally the Periyar—Kerala’s longest river that runs through its middle. The Black Pearl is a reference to pepper and the region’s spice trading past.

The performance will culminate on Monday evening with a musical performance by a two-member band of vocals and harmonium.

The 40 year old artist says he is excited to be a part of the the country’s premier art event. “I have been mulling over the idea of what I would do if I were invited to the biennale’’, said the artist, who graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Baroda’s M S University and went on to study in Ohio, USA.

Chopra notes that the Black Pearl is both ruler and subject; monster and angel. “He is armoured, yet defeated—and is also a metaphor for that ubiquitous spice which has drawn traders to the Malabar Coast for long’’, he adds.

The enthusiasm around it not withstanding, the artist is unfazed about the responses it has been drawing. “My favourite audiences are those who are unaware of gallery art and comes to it with curiosity and no preconceived notions,” he said before the start of the show.

“I want to be able to talk to women, children…and touch everyone. I want it to be a democratic experience. But I expect the audience to engage repeatedly. You don’t get anything from one viewing and just as I do, the audience too should push limits.”

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics Kochi
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 12:49:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/nikhil-chopra-in-biennale-breathing-life-into-black-pearl/article6692685.ece

Next Story