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Art that Celebrates the Human Spirit

The Kochi Biennale Foundation presents a large-scale contemporary art exhibition titled ‘Lokame Tharavadu’, translated as the world is one family. The show will feature 270 artists in five different venues in Alappuzha and Durbar Hall, Ernakulam.

The Kochi Biennale 2021  has been postponed to November 2021 due to the second wave of the pandemic but the spirit of the largest art biennale in the country is being expressed profusely by 270 artists from Kerala across some five key venues in the State. One of the art installations is a large-scale graffiti by Trespassers, an 8-member artist collective that comprises the alumni of the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. This work sits on the banks of one of the canals at the Palace Museum Venue, Alappuzha, and is in the shape of a large unusual Vanji/traditional boat that sails across the landscape of Kerala. Not only is the shape of the boat unusual, but so are the people sailing in it, atypical. From a woman who transcends stereotypes of gender normative behaviour who takes the role of the Captain of the Vanji to a same-sex couple, a lounging fisherman, a woman engaged in a telephonic conversation, to a traditional art performer, form part of the strange crew of the boat. The boat is filled to capacity with fish, flower, coconut, and milk jugs and represents the vibrance, playfulness, and weight of Kerala’s contemporary culture, according to the artists. It is also this pressure that eventually breaks the Vanji into two. According to the artists of Trespassers’, the Vanji is a living breathing representation of life in circumstances that is far from ordinary.

The team of Trespassers in front of their graffiti art. Their main aim is to bring awareness to visual language among the public.

And the larger-than-life representation is just one of the creatives that is a part of the contemporary art exhibition titled Lokame Tharavadu. Kochi Biennale Foundation President, Bose Krishnamachari has conceptualised the exhibition asking certain important questions about our ideas of home, surroundings, and the world.

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“The core idea of this exhibition, the world is one family, is drawn from the verses of a Malayalam poem written by Vallathol Narayana Menon, which appeals to the universal spirit of humanity, especially in these times of the Covid pandemic,” says Krishnamachari, President, Kochi Biennale Foundation, “The exhibition evokes the power of art to revive and resurrect the dejected human spirit. It is an outcome of the special interest of the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s initiative to reach out to the artistic community in these trying times.”

This display of arts is spread across five key locations, the Port Museum, Kerala State Coir Corporation, New Model Society Building, Eastern Produce Company Ltd/The Alleppey Company Ltd, Alappuzha William Goodacre & Sons Pvt Ltd, all sites in Alappuzha and the Durbar Hall in Ernakulam.

Since its inception in 2012 Kochi-Muziris Biennale has a huge hand in putting Kerala on the global art destination map, showcasing local, Indian and global artists all on the same platform. This exhibition in this trying time is an initiative by the State Government to put the focus on the art scene in the State and to renew the connection to the artistic community.

“We aspire to create a similar platform by creating an exclusive platform for 270 Malayali artists. Through this exhibition, the world’s focus will shift to our city and Alappuzha will become an important global cultural destination. It will also lead towards an important cultural revival focussing on Alappuzha’s unique history, local industries, heritage buildings, water bodies, and living traditions. As you know there are various art and cultural festivals in Kerala. We have many prestigious festivals in Kerala such as the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) and the International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFOK), which has made our small state a centre of attraction among global art and culture lovers. This is an extension of these efforts,” says Krishnamachari.

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Along with talks, theatre shows, music programmes, performances, seminars, workshops for school children, the art exhibition will help create a vibrant cultural ecosystem in Alappuzha of contemporary art, literature, cinema, performance, theatre, music. The various cultural and academic workshops will involve the local community to be educated in heritage, history, ecological concerns, and sustainable solutions.

The exhibition also aims to involve Kudumbashrees for effective community mobilisation, management of the exhibition, and foster women’s cultural and economic empowerment.

All Images Courtesy Kochi Biennale Foundation.