January 14, 2020
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Very reluctantly I agreed to cover Kochi Muziris Biennale, and I’m glad I did. Though I don’t consider myself an art aficionado but from a common person’s perspective, I know what pleases the eye and touches one’s heart. The theme for 2019 edition of Kochi Muziris Biennale was non-alienation and to no one’s surprise there were installments about LGBTQ community, women and tribals etc. My journey began with a very uncomfortable, delayed flight till Kochi. Undoubtedly, it was tiring but I had rented a car in Kochi with a trained driver so thankfully, the travel from the airport to the hotel was pretty comfortable and really quick.
So I had two days to cover the festival and from here began a journey that opened my eyes to a new world which I now want to explore deeper and more intently. The festival is set in Fort Kochi mainly and this fort in itself is quite intriguing. Aspinwall is where maximum installations were set and these ranged from the stunning creations that took you back in time of renaissance and more. Art flowed seamlessly and the creations transformed raw materials into glorious pieces that left one’s eyes wide open. I’m not getting into details of the artists and their spectacles; that’s a story for another day and another time.
Walking through the fort among the crowd with history towering on both sides, the experience was quite interesting. David Hall, St. Francis Church, Vasco da Gama square and more; all come together displaying Indo-European architecture that talks so much about different eras. From international guests to locals, students, distinct guests from all around the country; I spent the entire day having spectacular conversations. These two days were the sorts that make you go, “what a day!”
After two days of collecting interviews, pictures as well as information about the art installations and the stories behind them, it was time for me to sit back and relax; and what’s more relaxing than travelling to the hills. I quickly booked a cab from Kochi to Munnar from a reputed agency so that there’s no hassle about safety and nit picking with regards to time etc.
With its tea plantations and view-points that make you fall in love with the mountains; Munnar is, in one word – Exotic. I wanted to just take a walk aimlessly, drive down roads without a map and explore the hill station on my own; without any presumptions and notions. While being driven around in the rented car, we reached the Echo Point which was surprisingly calm and serene. It has a natural echo phenomenon and it looks like a painting that was created by an expert. Another such sight to see was Atukkad waterfalls. It was very fairy tale like with gorgeous greens all around with the waterfall creating a serene picture.
An excellent choice that I made was to take a Nature walk with a group. We walked through sceneries that made my jaw drop open. The view, the sounds of nature and the feel of walking through the green cover; it was just poetic. After working up an appetite, I straight away headed for some Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu a.k.a Spicy chicken fry. It was undoubtedly, spicy and downright delicious!
While sitting in the open air, compiling my articles for the Kochi Biennale 2019, I realized that this was one of those high points of my life where I wanted to thank my stars for the life that I have. The art festival gave me a lot to think about and a lot to soak in. This festival, where I was to work… it gave me a chance to escape! Exploring the capabilities of creative minds while exploring the peaceful Fort Kochi let me have a vacation right in middle of work; and who wouldn’t want that.
This international festival and my extended vacation at Munnar, together gave me a lifetime of memories. It wasn’t all about just having fun but attending this world class exhibition gave me a lot to think about, with a few creations that had hit my mind and heart quite hard. There was so much that I learnt by viewing the exhibits as well as talking to those who travelled from all around to visit and be a part of the festival. It was quite an experience, but what made it even more exciting was that I was being paid to take this vacation. It can’t get any better than this now, can it?
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