Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Aspinwall House is a large sea-facing heritage property in Fort Kochi on the way to Mattancherry. The property was originally the business premises of Aspinwall & Company Ltd. established in 1867 by English trader John H Aspinwall. Under the guidance of Aspinwall the Company traded in coconut oil, pepper, timber, lemon grass oil, ginger, turmeric, spices, hides and later in coir, coffee, tea and rubber. The large compound contains office buildings, a residential bungalow and a number of warehouses and smaller outer-lying structures.

The Quiet Story \ Hans Op de Beeck
Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck works with installations, sculptures, films, drawings, paintings, photographs and texts. According to Op de Beeck, his work is a reflection on society and the universal questions of meaning and mortality that resonate within it. The artist regards man as a being who stages the world around him in tragic-comic ways and is keen to stimulate the viewers’ senses by inviting them to experience the image through what he likes to call ‘visual fictions’.

In a departure from the monumental installations and videos for which he is primarily known for, 'The Quiet Story (Kochi)' (2014), the work Op de Beeck has created for the Biennale, consists of a series of large black and white watercolours on paper presented in two rooms within the Aspinwall House.

While the world that these works produce alludes to the Kochi’s local environment and history, the construction itself is entirely fictitious; being one of the Op de Beeck’s ‘visual fictions’.

According to the artist, the images were made through free association, creating a cinematic world where vast environments and anonymous figures are starting points to many possible stories. The images are meant not to judge or limit, but to act as suggestive and challenging invitations to the viewer.

The water colours were all realized overnight as the artist worked in isolation and in silence for hours. “That night, with both its peaceful tranquility and its latent derailment can be felt throughout the entire series”, Op de Beeck said.

Black and white water colours on Arches paper in wooden frames \ Different sizes

Untitled \ Manish Nai
Manish Nai is known for works that reveal an abiding preoccupation with texture, layering and three-dimensionality. In a range of sculptures, paintings and murals, he has produced out of rugged jute fabric works of quiet and contemplative beauty.
The son of a burlap and packing materials dealer, Nai’s experiments started in the final year of art school when he began to integrate jute into his canvases. He first created abstract paintings by using a jute fabric base from which he removed threads to reveal abstract patterns. Eventually, these led to sculptures made by compressing and molding burlap into cubes, creating highly textured yet minimalist sculptures through an unpredictable and time-consuming process.

One of Nai’s exhibits is an untitled sculpture (2014) made of molded Indigo blue jute. Nai here deviates for the first time from rectangular sculptures, exploring a more technically challenging circular form.

The result is a heavily compressed, earthy sculpture that evokes associations with nature – from a whirling oceanic pool to a calm night sky.

Dyed burlap \ 7.5 ft x 4 in

Also displayed is another untitled work (2014) – an abstract mural subtly traced onto a specially prepared pale grey wall. Nai’s murals begin as hand drawings. These are then converted into a digital form and copied on to stencils that are used to create dark grey and white patterns directly on the wall, creating a three-dimensional effect.

The layered pixels branch out from a hollow centre, evoking both the serenity of a distant starburst and the vigorous outward expansion of a human settlement viewed from above.

Iceboat \ Neha Choksi
In her emotionally-charged videos, performances, installations and prints, Mumbai-based artist Neha Choksi wrestles with questions of time, the erasure of the self and nature’s inherent capacity for renewal.
In 'Iceboat' (2012-13), Choksi, dressed like a renunciate, rows a boat made of ice until it melts, releasing her into the water’s womb. The boat becomes an extension of the artist’s body as she calmly persists in her endeavor to float despite the inevitability of collapse and decay – the final erasure of the body that is death. The video begins with underwater shots from the end of the original performance, showing Choksi diving in the water surrounded by the remnants of the boat – an image that evokes Indic notions of the soul, freed at death from its vessel, the body. The camera then moves above ground and the act unfolds from the beginning.

As the Iceboat begins to melt and topple towards the end, the artist seems to experience fleeting despair. But ultimately, Choksi embraces her surrender – a painful moment of loss redeemed by the possibility of rebirth. Viewed in Kochi, the sea breeze adds another layer to this work – exhuming narratives of doomed voyages of the past, the many sunken expeditions that define a coast as much as the ones that made it.

Video, colour, sound \ 13:35 min \ loop

Erasure \ Dinh Q Lê
Dinh Q Lê’s family left Vietnam when he was 10, driven away by the intense fighting between Vietnam and Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge in the years immediately after the Vietnam War. Having fled in boats to Thailand, they eventually moved to the USA where Lê trained as an artist. He has since then returned to Vietnam, not just by moving back to the country but also by consistently excavating memories of its war-torn past through his art.
In 'Erasure' (2011), Lê draws from his own story to evoke the trauma and desperation of numerous people from across history who had to embark on treacherous journeys across the seas while fleeing violence. The installation includes a broken fishing boat and debris arranged on a floor covered with photographs.

Viewers can examine these photographs which are part of an archive Lê has created from images left behind by Vietnamese families who fled the war.

Found photographs, stone, wooden boat fragments; computer, scanner, dedicated website

Flickering within this sea of memories is the video of a replica 19th century ship, such as the one used by European traders and explorers, burning on a beach. Lê here connects contemporary debates around immigrants and asylum seekers to a long history of travel across the seas. Perspectives shift and dissolve as the video progresses, illuminating the artefacts and invoking innumerable stories of violence, displacement and personal rupture that continue to unfold around us.
Atlas des îles perdues (The atlas of lost islands) \ Marie Velardi
'Atlas des îles perdues' (The atlas of lost islands) (2007) by Marie Velardie seeks a dialogue on the fate of scores of inhabited islands across the world that face submergence due to rising seas.

The installation consists of ink drawings Velardie made of many such sinking islands, among them Minicoy in The Lakshadweep and the many islets that form The Maldives, both situated off the coast of Kerala. These are arranged in a rough geographic order on the walls of a gallery converted into an open globe by plotting meridians along its length.

In the middle is situated Velardie’s 'Atlas des îles perdues', a bound volume from the future containing all the drawings. Its cover announces the date of its release: 2107, by when all the islands it lists would have disappeared under the sea.

Bound book with gilding, reproductions of the “Lost Islands” drawings with their names, places and coordinates \ 110 pages and ink, watercolor and pencil on paper \ 16.92 x 12.20 x 1.96 in and 11.69 x 8.26 in

Swistik Pocket Knife \ Biju Joze
Biju Joze’s juxtaposition of materials and symbols is characterised by hybridity and the often violent melding and appropriation of cultures and artefacts. For a series of works titled 'Japamala' (2008), he made rosaries — ubiquitous symbols of piety in catholic households of South India — by threading together aspirin and Viagra tablets, alluding to the ways in which the traditional and the modern, faith and market, intersect in contemporary India.
Joze engages with the wave of transformations India is currently undergoing from the unique vantage point offered by the city of Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), the country’s premier Information Technology hub and a gateway for global capital.

'Swistik Pocket Knife' (2009) by Joze is a sculpture that incorporates into the compact body of a Swiss Army Knife weapons and other traditional or ritualistic tools from India. Like a glaring anomaly, the place occupied by can openers, screw drivers, scissors and nail clippers in an ordinary Swiss Knife is here occupied by implements such as the ‘Trishulam’ (trident), ‘Lavithram’ (sickle), 'Ankhusha' (a mahout’s goad) and ‘Eeli’ (coconut grater), adding up to a hybrid instrument resembling a multi-armed, weapon-wielding Hindu God.

Hard chrome-plated steel and acrylic \ 5.9 x 9.84 x 1.18 in. Edition 14/18

अर्थ | Artha \ Prashant Pandey
Prashant Pandey comes from a family of marble sculptors in Jaipur who have been practicing the art for at least four consecutive generations. But in stark contrast to this tradition of chipping away at stone to create (sacred) statues of gods and goddesses, Pandey works with that which is discarded and often ostensibly ‘impure’. He is known for recycling objects that are past their use value — from marble blast and chunks of tar to visceral rejects like urine, sweat and blood — to create artworks that question cultural notions of utility and waste.
'अर्थ | Artha' (2014) is an installation in the shape of a diamond, a universal symbol of prosperity, wealth and vanity. The seductive red translucence of this sculpture gives way to shock on encountering the objects from which it derives its colour–10,000 discarded slides of blood containing blood drawn from a large number of people including the artist.

In creating a likeness of one of the most precious commodities in the world in blood slides that are arranged like brickwork, Pandey creates a juxtaposition that evokes multiple connections between money, violence and mortality. The work acts as an unsettling interruption, forcing a confrontation with the sheer corporeality of our existence.

As Pandey points out, the Sanskrit word ‘Artha’ refers both to the pursuit of material wealth and the quest for meaning. According to him, the work seeks to recall the sacrifices made in the course of colonisation and the quest for land, power and wealth, and asks questions about “the price of progress and the relationship between worldly possessions and the purpose of life”.

Discarded blood slides, iron, stainless steel thread \ 81 x 108 x 108 in

orbital cascade_57-46 \ Michael Najjar
Michael Najjar works with photography and video to create visions of future scenarios inspired by advances in fields such as information technology and space exploration. In 2015/16 he will become the first contemporary artist to undertake space travel as part of an ongoing work titled outer space.
Najjar’s exhibit 'orbital cascade_57-46' (2013) is a video projection on the floor illustrating the imagined trajectories of thousands of pieces of manmade space junk floating in the Earth’s orbit. According to existing data, there are about 6,00,000 defunct objects larger than one centimetre currently in the Earth’s orbit.

In collaboration with scientists from the Institute of Aerospace Systems, Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany, Najjar created a video simulation in which each spherule represents one such object; starting with the very first object in space — the Sputnik satellite of 1957 — to an imagined vision of the future of space junk.

Single-channel video, HDV, stereo sound \ 6:00 min

From the year 2013, the video switches to a worst case scenario for the future extending to 2046. This projected future includes visions of predicted collisions between existing debris. Such collisions are expected to unleash a ‘cascade effect’ leading to a complete destruction of the orbital satellite infrastructure we depend on for everything – from telephone communications to weather warnings.
Perpetual Stills \ Punaloor Rajan
Punaloor Rajan’s black and white photographs form an engaging biography of Kerala’s cultural and political landscape as seen through the eyes of an avid chronicler. From 1956, when the state of Kerala was constituted, to the late 1980s when he withdrew from photography, Rajan documented Kerala’s major public figures from close quarters. Among his subjects are legendary Malayalam writers Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, S K Pottekkat, Thakazhi Sivasankarapillai, M T Vasudevan Nair, Kamala Surayya; and communist stalwarts like P C Joshi, K C George, M N Govindan Nair, E M S Namboodiripad and C Achutha Menon among others.
Rajan was a member of the Kerala People’s Arts Club (KPAC), a legendary left cultural organisation formed in Kerala in 1950. As part of KPAC’s plans to start its own film unit, he was sent for training in photography and cinematography to the All-Union Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, where alumni and teachers included figures such as Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein.

When he returned from Moscow, Rajan brought home a 16mm Bolex Paillard camera with which he documented several of his subjects, especially Vaikom Muhammad Basheer with whom he shared a close friendship, on black and white film. His personal quest resulted in what now constitutes a rare and unparalleled archive of photographs and video footage.

Photographic prints \ Variable dimensions

Selections from this oeuvre put together in collaboration with writer and journalist Mangad Ratnakaran and painter and photographer Pradeep Chandrakumar, both of whom have been working to archive and preserve Rajan’s work, form 'Perpetual Stills' (2014), an installation of photographs that is presented at the Biennale.
Heaven over Fire \ Lindy Lee
Chinese-Australian artist Lindy Lee’s practice is intimately tied to her explorations of the self. The daughter of immigrant parents, she channels into art her quest to come to terms with a lifelong experience of difference; of being neither fully Chinese nor entirely Australian – ‘a false copy*' herself. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Lee has often explored this migrant past, frequently using tinted portraits of her family members in works that capture individual histories of loss and longing. A Zen Buddhist, she draws heavily from Taoist and Buddhist thought, especially her own practice of Zen meditation.
'Heaven over Fire' (2014) is a circular bronze sculpture made by flinging molten bronze on the floor – a process grounded in the ancient Chinese technique of ‘flung ink painting’ practiced by Zen Buddhist monks who, after a period of meditation, would splash a cup of ink on paper.

By rendering this ancient painting technique into a sculptural form, Lee gives permanent form to a fleeting, mystical moment when all of cosmos converges in an act of creation.

Also exhibited are five works created by Lee using a combination of paint, ink and fire on paper. In Buddhist cosmology, fire represents the energy of the universe and is considered one of the five basic elements along with air, water, earth and space.

In these paintings, Lee uses the vital force of fire to create patterns that resemble dew drops, constellations of stars or mysterious galaxies swirling in space – evoking the relentless combination of elements from which the world is born.

Wood, paper, fire \ 78.74 × 51.77 in

LOST #12 \ Ryota Kuwakubo
Ryota Kuwakubo is a Japanese artist who predominantly works with electronic and multimedia installations. His exhibit at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, 'LOST # 12' (2014), is a kinetic sculpture that creates a remarkable phantom landscape out of the play of light and shadow.

It consists of a small-point light source fitted to the front of a moving toy train that runs slowly over rails laid on the gallery floor. Arranged around the rails are small objects, a majority of them everyday commodities picked from markets in Kochi. When illuminated at close range by the moving train, they produce a mesmerising procession of shadows that rise and fall, rescaling the relationship of these objects to the viewer’s body.

According to Kuwakubo, the objects are arranged in such a way that the shadows they throw remind a viewer of familiar images — a forest perhaps, or a tunnel or a cityscape — that each viewer might perceive differently, drawing from his or her own personal experiences. The installation thus creates a self-reflective space, summoning a viewer’s conscious and subconscious recollections.

As the artist explains, built into 'LOST # 12' are two possible perspectives from which to visually experience it. Some in the audience might grasp the whole installation as a simple mechanism made up of some daily commodities and a moving point light. Others might choose to see only the projected moving shadows. It can evoke both an immersive virtual environment and a succession of vistas seen from a train, thus connecting two seemingly opposite visual experiences – one of the digital realm and the other pure analog.
Pepper Tent \ Francesco Clemente
Francesco Clemente is often described as a nomadic artist. His canvases are populated by a range of powerful imagery drawn from his travels and interactions with artistic, intellectual and spiritual traditions from across the world, especially India.
Clemente’s Indian connection dates back to the 1970s when his search for a “different version of contemporaneity” from that of the West first drew him to the country, specifically to Chennai and its Theosophical society. Since then, he has returned frequently, delving into Indian mystical thought and collaborating with a range of local artists, from miniaturists to billboard painters.

Clemente came of age amidst the political strife of 1960s Italy. He was heavily influenced by artists of the Arte Povera movement. One of the key figures now associated with the ‘return to figuration’ in painting, his canvases are populated with intimate narrative fragments and are charged with erotic and mythic energy.

'Pepper Tent' (2014) is a part of the artist’s ongoing experiments with the form and structure of a tent. It is a tent covered in paintings made by Clemente in his studio in Brooklyn that was assembled in Rajasthan by Indian tent-makers. One finds here a chorus of imagery ranging from stars to pepper corns, from the high seas to the energy field of the human body, the sailing ship and the figure of a retreating navigator who drops his anchor and rests.

In creating an artwork that can envelope the viewer, at once offering shelter and refuge, the artist makes plain what connects art to life. The form of the tent itself stands as a symbol for Clemente’s artistic journey, defined by his itinerant search for inspiration and the self.

Tempera on cotton, embroidery, hand stitching, bamboo poles, wood finials, ropes, iron weights \ 9.84 x 19.68 x 13.12 ft

Syzygy \ Akbar Padamsee
Akbar Padamsee, one of India’s most important modern painters, is known for his explorations of colour and form. While still a student, he came in close contact with the Bombay Progressive Artists Group (PAG, in 1947) one of the most influential, albeit short-lived, modern art movements in post-independent India. In 1969, Padamsee was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, the funding from which he used to found the ‘Inter-art Vision Exchange Workshop’ (VIEW, 1969-71), a landmark platform for artistic exchange across disciplines. It was at VIEW that Padamsee first made films, creating two short productions – 'Syzygy' and 'Events in a Cloud Chamber'. While the latter is now lost, 'Syzygy' (1970), made in collaboration with animator Ram Mohan, is exhibited at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014.

The title, 'Syzygy', invokes references to the term’s use in philosophy, where it denotes the union of two opposites; or astronomy, where it refers to a linear alignment of celestial bodies within a gravitational system. The film is a stop-motion animation created out of nearly 1,000 drawings Padamsee made, advancing visually a mathematical theory for ‘programming forms’. It opens with a line that stubbornly refuses to be fixed in a circle. Soon, horizontal and vertical lines appear that rearrange to form a number matrix out of which Padamsee draws combinations to plot a grid.

As if plotting constellations in the night sky, the artist then connects the points in this grid, producing infinite intersections of lines and a spectacular procession of forms that dissolve to reveal others hidden within.
Hong Kong \ Kwan Sheung Chi
Playful yet incisive, Kwan Sheung Chi’s work is heavily defined by the liberal economic and political set up that is the autonomous and prosperous city-state, Hong Kong. A flourishing coastal trading town for centuries, Hong Kong, much like Kochi, was one of the places where early European traders from Portugal established themselves.
Since then, it has witnessed a flurry of regime changes, culminating in the establishment of Chinese rule in 1997 ending more than 100 years of British domination. Post-1997, while its institutions continue to remain heavily anglicised, Hong Kong has attempted to negotiate for itself an identity and a place within the iron grasp of Chinese sovereignty. This search for self figures prominently in Sheung Chi’s work.
A Flags-Raising-Lowering Ceremony at my home's clothes drying rack
A work denied exhibition in China, 'A Flags-Raising-Lowering Ceremony at my home's clothes drying rack' (2007) captures the city’s chequered history of regime changes and illustrates with a sense of the absurd the identity confusions this has engendered. The performance consists of the artist’s parents unfurling and then pulling back on a clothesline the flags of the United Kingdom, China and, sandwiched between the two, the regional flag of Hong Kong.

'Hong Kong' (2012) is made of a paper-cut globe with only a map of Hong Kong printed on it. Beside it are posters with the same map that viewers can take home and assemble into globes themselves.

Offset print on paper \ 7.84 x 5.51 x 4.72 in

'ONE MILLION' (2011), is a looped video of one shot of a Yuan bill containing Chairman Mao’s portrait being flicked. By multiplying the same shot to count to a nonexistent million, Sheung Chi points towards the spectral nature of money in a financial economy and the links that exist between politics and finance, whether in communist China or anywhere else in the world.
Zero to the Right \ Sunoj D
Bengaluru-based artist Sunoj D’s installation at Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, 'Zero to the Right' (2014), is an articulation in sound and visual of intangible economic relations and transactions that affect our daily lives. The installation was conceived while the artist was on a residency in Dubai, a financial hub which employs millions of migrant workers from Kerala whose earnings fuel the state’s consumer economy.
To create 'Zero to the Right', Sunoj converted his residency production budget of $2,000 into Dubai Dirham (then 7,346 Dirhams) and Indian Rupee (then 1,25,427 Rupees). Recordings of these sums being counted aloud — from 1 to 2000 in English; 1 to 7,346 in Arabic and from 1 to 1,25,427 in Malayalam – play simultaneously out of loudspeakers that form a part of Sunoj’s installation. According to the artist, reciting and listening to these numbers over many hours was to him a meditative act – the process of creation itself becoming a personal performance.

Also part of 'Zero to the Right' are wall murals made of marks the artist made on the wall as each dollar, dirham and rupee were counted. If the articulations in sound incorporated into the numbers the breath and rhythm of bodies that recited them, the drawings are the result of a similarly corporeal process of marking them by hand.

Horn speakers, amplifiers, audio players

Sun Sweat, Solar Queens: An Expedition \ Ho Rui An
Artist and writer Ho Rui An works at the intersection of contemporary art, cinema, performance and theory. His artistic practice, research and investigations are centred on images and their sites of emergence, transmission and disappearance.
'Sun Sweat, Solar Queens: An Expedition' (2014) is a performative lecture by Ho Rui An that uses the sun and sweat as motifs to talk about the history of colonialism by juxtaposing the historical and timeless. It takes off from an image of a statue of the Dutch anthropologist Charles Le Roux that Ho encountered in Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum. Le Roux had conducted his field work in the Dutch East Indies in the early twentieth century and the statue depicts him at work under the tropical sun, with the back of his shirt soaked in sweat. It is from this image of colonial sweat that the artist launches into a set of investigations of what he calls the “solar unconscious,” underpinning the colonial project and its attempts at fending off the merciless tropical sun through the figure of the white lady in the tropics who is tasked with recreating within the colonies the protected sphere of the domestic.
A seminal figure of globalization according to the artist, this “solar queen” would eventually extend her maternal force the world over, cradling her subjects within an expanded imperial domestic. Spiraling out into the contemporary moment of globalisation and terrestrial meltdown, the talk finally seeks to reclaim the affective capacities of sweat as a way of getting out of ourselves and in touch with the Solar. In the days after Ho’s live performance, the talk is presented to viewers as a video projection displayed opposite a photograph of Le Roux’s statue.
Where are you from? \ Menika van der Poorten
Sri Lankan photographer Menika van der Poorten’s exhibit at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, 'Where Are You From?' (2012) documents the stories of the dwindling Eurasian ‘planter’ community of Sri Lanka. Much like the Anglo-Indians of India, Sri Lanka’s Eurasians were born out of colonial era interactions between Europeans, especially the British, and the native Sinhalese and Tamil population. Not accepted as fully European but set apart from other Sri Lankans by their light skin and Anglicised lifestyles, Eurasians have progressively retreated into the margins of Sri Lanka’s public sphere.
The country’s independence and a 1956-declaration replacing English with Sinhala as its official language resulted in mass migrations to England — which many Eurasians consider their true home — as well as countries such as Canada. Those who chose to remain in Sri Lanka now constitute a minority community whose struggles to belong in a nation increasingly intolerant to differences prompts the artist’s loaded question – Where are you from?
To Van der Poorten, herself a Eurasian descended from Belgian and English forbearers, the series is only one part of a deeply personal and ongoing endeavor to archive an aspect of Sri Lankan history that she fears will soon be lost forever. She began to interview and photograph members of the largely elusive Eurasian community, including the members of her own extended family, in 2011. The resultant images and testimonies form intimate portraits of a people straddling two worlds, and are chronicles of a long history of intercontinental interactions in South Asia.

Digital print on photographic paper, 13 x 34 in

The Arrival of Vasco da Gama (after an 1898 painting by Jose Veloso Salgado) \ Pushpamala N
Pushpamala N began her career as a sculptor before turning to photo and video performances. Her first photographic work was the "photo romance" 'Phantom Lady' or 'Kismet' (1997), a film noir style adventure about a pair of lost and found twins set in Mumbai where Pushpamala played both characters.
Since then the artist has done a series of masquerades where she simultaneously inhabits and subverts iconic images, from Ravi Varma oleographs to ethnographic photographs from colonial India. Displayed at the Biennale, the photographic work 'The Arrival of Vasco da Gama' (after an 1898 painting by Jose Veloso Salgado) (2014) recreates an 1898 history painting 'Vasco da Gama perante o Samorim' by Portuguese painter Jose Veloso Salgado which depicts Vasco da Gama’s first meeting with the Zamorin of Calicut. Created 400 years after the actual event, the painting celebrates Gama’s arrival in Calicut-a much mythologised event in Portugal even in his own lifetime-and shows him addressing the Zamorin’s court, a stately European visitor surrounded by the imagined decadence of an oriental court.
For 'The Arrival of Vasco da Gama' (after an 1898 painting by Jose Veloso Salgado) Pushpamala for the first time plays a male role as the navigator while her artist friends act as supporting cast. Around the photographs, elements of painted sets made for the photo shoot and written texts form an installation like a theatre museum. In her interpretation of the 1898 painting, the artist turns Salgado’s conception on its head; returning what is a work of imagination that has over time gained a degree of historical legitimacy, to the space of fiction and masquerade.

Archival inkjet print

Anima Mundi \ Theo Eshetu
Theo Eshetu spent part of his childhood in Ethiopia. His works draw heavily from African imagery and reveal the artist’s fascination for the interrelation of world cultures and the metaphysical nature of the electronic image. Interested in the expressive potential of video and its distinctiveness from other art forms, Eshetu has worked in media art since 1982, challenging conventional genres and moving across formats including experimental video, installation art, documentary and photography. 
'Anima Mundi' (2014) is a narrative development of an earlier work by Eshetu, 'Brave New World' (2000). It is an ingenious illusion that opens, layer by layer, into a hall of mirrors. At the first glance, the viewer sees what appears to be a flat screen monitor on the wall showing shifting abstract patterns. On closer inspection, a giant globe within reveals faceted images of various rituals. On peering even deeper, the viewer plunges, like Alice, through the looking glass into a kaleidoscopic, multi-dimensional space of myriad echoes and iterations of his or her own image. 
Ultimately, in Eshetu’s words, “The viewer is reflected as the sole spectator of a cosmic spectacle.” 'Anima Mundi' draws on a wealth of images, inviting the viewer to follow an abstract narrative. Footage of early experiments to capture an image on a cathode ray tube, rituals and dances from diverse cultures, X-rays and animated statues all point to a metaphysical cosmology that attempts to capture what the artist terms “the soul of the world”. In this linking of western and eastern philosophies within the shifting spectra of a theatrical mirrored box, the self meets the Other and personal reflections collide with mediated spectacle.
Sacks-2 \ Susanta Mandal
In Susanta Mandal’s kinetic installations, everyday objects are transformed into spectres of the uncanny. 'Sacks–2' (2006) by Mandal is an installation made of a stack of gunny sacks that move as if by the presence of writhing bodies within them. The unexpected kinetic element renders what is a ubiquitous symbol of commerce in port cities such as Kochi — gunny sacks filled with tea, spices or sugar — into a representation of mortal danger, of events of unknown, unspeakable brutality. They bring to mind a range of stories and images of violence – from farmer suicides and custodial killings to tales of anonymous bodies found dumped in the cover of night. 
'Sacks–2' is a part of a series of work by Mandal that involve similar elements. One of these is 'Caged Sacks' (2007-08), an installation where he enclosed several moving sacks within corrugated iron cages. The eeriness of these works is enhanced by the artist’s use of chiaroscuro. According to Mandal, light and shadows play a critical role in his work as symbols of various abstract fears of the mind.

Steel, 2 RPM motors, jute sack and programming circuit, dimensions variable

Curve Ball & Take No Prisoners \ Fiona Hall
One of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, Fiona Hall began her career as a photographer. Since then, she has worked in a wide range of media from paintings and sculptures to installations and public commissions such as gardens. She is known for meticulously recycling familiar objects — Coca-Cola cans, currency notes, glass beads— and transforming them into works that critically engage with themes like colonialism, consumerism and man’s rampant abuse of nature.
'Curve Ball' (2013) and 'Take No Prisoners' (2013) are paintings made with earth pigments on bark cloth (cloth made from flattened tree bark, traditionally used by the aboriginal people of Australia and Pacific Islanders) that portray hellish visions of a world laid to waste. The texture of the cloth and the tones the artist has used give these paintings the appearance of antique scrolls or maps. Of these, 'Curve Ball' is explicit in its forewarning of an impending ecological catastrophe. It depicts an apocalyptic landscape strewn with tree stumps from which rises a burning globe. Skulls — a recurring motif in Hall’s work — appear here perched on the dead remains of trees, instilling terror with their ghoulish grimaces. 
'Take No Prisoners' (2013) depicts a similarly dystopic vision of a map being slowly consumed by an ocean of fire. On the map and the ocean surface appear ripples from within which fiery eyes stare at the viewer. The skulls appear here again, marking death. 'Take No Prisoners' evokes violent histories of colonialism and war even as it depicts nightmarish visions of a world wrecked by the environmental destruction.

Paint on tongan bark cloth, 66.92 x 61.02 in

Origins: A Tableau–Epiphany (Cuckoonebulopolis) \ Surendran Nair
Surendran Nair’s triptych, 'Origins: A Tableau–Epiphany (Cuckoonebulopolis)' (2012-13) is part of a personal project that the artist has been working on since the early 2000s. Titled 'Cuckoonebulopolis' after the ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes, 'The Birds', it is made up of a series of drawings that play around the notion of Utopia.
Rather than alternatives to the present offered by Utopic imaginings, what interests Nair about the concept of Utopia is its inherent critique of the existent order. Throughout 'Cuckoonebulopolis', he has used this basic premise of Utopia as a backdrop or as a theatrical device to sharpen the form and address of his images. 
As he explains: “These set of works (Cuckoonebulopolis) were meant only as a more or less light-hearted exploration, something humorous, something that enables a play on the ironic possibilities of its corollary: the nebulous city of cuckoos. But once I got into the vortex of things, it occurred to me that some of the themes and images that I'd been grappling with were in fact becoming quite complicated and demanded an approach that was altogether different.” 
The artist has classified 'Cuckoonebulopolis' into various chapters, each dealing with a different set of imagery. 'Origins: A Tableau' comes under the section 'Epiphany' and is loosely based on the myth of the 'churning of the milky ocean,’ a tale that deals with origins of different kinds. Interwoven here are images culled by Nair from his personal memories as well as the history of colonialism in India. 
According to Nair, “Generally speaking, this particular series could be considered as an attempt from my part at exploring the possibilities of imagining something secular. Some of these works are, in that sense, (personal) responses to some of the problems that we are entrenched in.”

Oil on Canvas, 108 x 56 in (central panel), 108 x 60 in (panels on either side)

1610 IV \ Laurent Grasso
In several of his works, French artist Laurent Grasso explores the Renaissance – the ‘Age of Discovery’ when science and art were still interlinked and many notions about the world that we now take for granted were still under debate. 
Grasso’s '1610 IV' (2014) is one of a series of neon works that replicate drawings of star constellations by Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the Italian natural philosopher, astronomer and mathematician who is considered the father of Modern Science. It was in the year 1610 that Galileo published Siderius Nuncius (Starry Messenger), an account of the observations he made using telescopes. The first telescopes were invented in the Netherlands in 1609. Having procured one, Galileo improved the instrument vastly, enabling the observation of distant celestial bodies and thus inaugurating modern astronomy. 

Neon, black transparent altuglas, 53.14 x 82.67 x 9.84 in

Pythagoras \ Ho Tzu Nyen
Artist and filmmaker Ho Tzu Nyen is interested in veils and ventriloquism, and in the puppeteer’s hidden hands that hold power. Perhaps as a reaction to life in a tightly-policed city state, Ho’s films and theatre productions work towards a slow unmasking of the apparatuses of power; both within the medium and outside, in the making of myth and history. Ho’s exhibit at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 'Pythagoras' (2013), is an atmospheric installation that brings together many of his video works, all threaded together by a kinetic multimedia performance called 'Pythagoras'. 
Kalapani: The Jahajis’ Middle Passage \ Andrew Ananda Voogel
Indo-Caribbean artist Andrew Ananda Voogel is a descendant of the Jahajis of Guyana, a community whose ancestors were Indian indentured workers brought to the Caribbean as plantation labourers in the early 19th century. After the gradual abolition of African slave trade, the search for cheap labour had spread to India, from where many men and women, including Voogel’s ancestors, were separated from their families and forcibly herded into ships leaving for Guyana and other colonies. Unable to return, these workers eventually forged hybrid communities in their new homes. Memories of their violent departure and exile form an important part of Voogel’s work.
'Kalapani: The Jahajis’ Middle Passage' (2014) is an installation that further excavates these stories of displacement and detention. ‘Kalapani’ (literally ‘Black water’), here, is a reference to a traditional Hindu taboo on crossing the seas. The installation consists of a video displayed alongside the passage papers that record the arrival of the artist’s great grandparents, Sita and Bhoja, to Guyana as indentured labourers.
Passive witnesses to events of great personal rupture, these archival sources act as entry points to Voogel’s video–an abstract, dream-like vision of waves crashing on a coastline. Rendered soft and indistinct, the projected image slowly reveals itself once the viewers’ eyes adjust to the darkness around. The undulating movement of waves combines with the stillness and silence of the gallery space to create an intensely meditative, almost therapeutic atmosphere: A space to piece together fragmented memories of our own past as also a site to revisit the trauma of those who suddenly found themselves stranded on alien shores.
Dear Mr. Walter \ Dayanita Singh
Dayanita Singh’s '1.9.2014 Dear Mr. Walter' (2014) is a year’s work presented as a series of interconnected movements in life and thought, built into eleven pillars of varying size and a few stand-alone images.
The pillars choreograph the viewers’ encounter and engagement by reinventing the space of photography as sculpture and architecture. They suggest structures of interconnectedness that exist as much in the intangible life of inwardness or inspiration as in actual space. Each pillar is built around informing or founding presences in the life of the artist that are hidden as well as manifest; their existence often realised in the process of bringing them into relation with one another during editing and sequencing.
In this process, the role of chance is crucial and manifold. Unlike Singh’s 'Museum of Chance', part of her Museum Bhavan and first shown at the Hayward Gallery in London, '1.9.2014 Dear Mr. Walter' is not a museum. In it, Singh’s preoccupation shifts from arranging and archiving the fruits of chance to showing the vehicles through which chance operates in a web of human lives. It is when the loss of a beloved friend coincides with the beginning of a new conversation; renewed encounters with a person, place or kind of architecture reveal unexpected patterns of recurrence or change, the hand of chance gestures towards the possibilities of a new form.
In the words of Henry James, a writer of fiction, to make room for chance in one’s life and work is to recognise that “really, universally, relations stop nowhere” and “the exquisite problem of the artist” is “eternally but to draw, by a geometry of his own, the circle within which they shall only appear to do so”.
Teak wood structures with 196 inkjet prints \ Dimensions Variable
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