Our First Visit to Biennale

For some of us, it was our first time in Kochi and even simply walking on the roadside was mesmerising in itself. But whether we had been to Kochi before or not, the renowned Kochi-Muziris Biennale was the first time for all of us. We had heard about it, read about it, talked much about it and yet nothing had prepared us for what we were about to witness.

On the morning of the twenty fourth of February, we landed at Fort Kochi by boat and walked the few metres to Aspinwall House, the main venue of the Kochi Biennale. The moment we stepped inside the Aspinwall House, we knew that what we had heard and read about the Biennale did no justice to what we actually beheld. The place was an artists’ paradise. Paintings, sculptures, animations and video installations stretched endlessly across the corridors and halls. Artworks from different cultures and parts of the world were all brought together to form an international, multicultural hamlet of art. Wonderstruck was all we were.

One particular piece of art that inspired me was a series of paintings titled, ‘Lull’, by Anju Acharya. In it, she created interplays between visceral existences of all breathing entities that sustain life and portrays the essential sameness in the life cycles and anatomies of the different living beings on earth. A woman, a dog, a jackfruit, a hen, an egg, and a frog are all interlinked in this particular piece, triggering unknown feelings and unthoughtful thoughts.

Later on, we also visited the Pepper House, the second most important venue of the Biennale. Here too, we were too much in awe of all the different paintings hanging there. They were not merely splashes of colour or strokes of the brush but had within them great inner meanings – cryptic to the untrained eye, but evident and yet awestriking to the others. A highlight of the Pepper House was a hall completely dedicated to Nepali women's history. Photographs, diary clippings, letters and other souvenirs of women activists and movements brought to life the struggles of Nepali women and paid tribute to those exceptional lives.

What inspired us all even more than the art we saw was the national, cultural and ethnic diversity there. A multitude of people from different places with different tastes, perspectives and beliefs. And yet they were all bound together by one thing – their love for art. It was this love that made everyone there together. There were no ‘I’s or ‘you’s. There was only a ‘we’. That above all was what we experienced the most.