Madanmohan Rao ( )
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 685 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
The fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is aptly titled In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire. The exhibits capture the theme of resilience in the face of crises like the pandemic, political upheaval, and climate change.
The halls and even windows of Aspinwall House feature a range of artworks, many of which reinforce messages of environmental consciousness and preservation. Discarded metal from garages and warehouses are upcycled into columns of art, for example.
The Biennale spans over 15 venues, some of which are showcased in this photo essay. The artworks are on display till the middle of April, at venues such as Aspinwall House, VXL Warehouse, and Kashi Town House.
Anne Samat, an artist who shuttles between New York and Kuala Lumpur, has showcased a stunning installation called Cannot be Broken and Won’t be Unspoken. What seems to be a temple deity is actually assembled from recycled materials, including an automobile hubcap at the centre of the installation.
Singaporean artist Jason Wee combines poetry, photography and politics. “Every face is a ghost, a shadow, a trace,” he describes.
Devi Seetharaman, a Thiruvananthapuram artist, depicts masculine projections in dress and public spaces. Her artworks feature photographs of the mundu (dhoti), contrasting the white fabric and gold designs.
The twisting and tucking motions while folding and unfolding the mundu in public reflect the gendering of shared social and political spaces. Such themes have been the focus of Devi’s work since 2016.
“Even the most solitary of journeys is not one of isolation, but drinks deeply from that common wellspring of collective knowledge and ideas,” Singapore-based artist and Biennale curator Shubigi Rao explains.
“Even when we work alone, we amplify the voices of others, and this form of sociability is why when we create, we are collective,” she adds.
Tenzing Dakpa, a Gangtok artist who has now moved to Goa, has showcased a series of photographs titled The Hotel. They seem to contrast the familiarity of home with the transient nature of hotel stays, both of which offer residence but of different types and textures.
The works of Myanmar photographer Min Ma Maing, who is now based in the US, contrast the beauty of nature with the harshness of life under military rule. Karachi-based artist Madiha Aijaz chronicles the changing phases of life in Pakistan.
Hong Kong artist Samson Young showcases an interactive exhibit called Reasonable Music. It combines AI algorithms, shifting soundscapes, and 3D-printed objects on repurposed microphone stands.
European artist Uriel Orlow presents an outstanding installation on plant life in national parks and mountainous regions. The videos, photographs and sketches in diary form draw attention to the challenges faced by plant life in fragile ecosystems due to climate change.
This theme is also explored in the video exhibit aptly titled Singing Ice. It draws on Ladakhi folk songs about mountains, glaciers, rivers, and streams.
See also our earlier six-part photo essay series on the fourth edition of the Biennale here, as well as coverage of the Bangkok Biennale (Thailand) and Aichi Triennale (Japan).
“The human need to think freely without proscription, in spite of, and sometimes because of repression, all point to the way we react to conflict,” curator Shubigi Rao explains.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?
(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the Biennale.)
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