ASPINWALL HOUSE A / COIR GODOWN

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. Aspinwall House will be a primary venue of the Biennale, hosting numerous artist led projects and events spaces.

Powers of Ten \ Charles and Ray Eames
Known as the couple whose work reshaped modernist design in post-war America and the world over, Charles and Ray Eames are famous for their revolutionary innovations; among them, the iconic molded plywood ‘Eames Chair’. In 1977, the duo made Powers of Ten, a film essay (an early version of which was made in 1968) on the relative scale of things based on the 1958 book 'Cosmic View – The Universe in 40 Jumps' by Dutch Educator Kees Boeke (1884-1966). 
Narrated by physicist Philip Morrison, the film takes the viewer on a voyage back and forth from the everyday world of our perception, shedding light on man’s place in an infinite and infinitely complex universe. The film begins with an overhead image of a couple lounging in a Chicago park before rapidly zooming out. Every ten seconds, the camera zooms out by the power of ten, moving from a one metre square view of the couple — viewed from one metre away — to ten, hundred and thousand metres till it reaches the limits of the known universe. 
As the voyage progresses, the earth is left behind, revealing the solar system and the stars before going past our ‘whorled’ galaxy —the Milky Way— into far-off empty space where human understanding of the universe ends. Now the camera begins the voyage back, zooming in at the power of minus ten from the astronomical to the inner world of an atom, where we meet another limit of human perception– that of the infinitely small. As the voyage ends within a proton embedded deep in one of the couple’s hands, the sub-atomic merges with the galactic, revealing a world within us that is as infinitefilled with wonder as the vast swathes of outer space.
Undercurrent \ Mona Hatoum
In artist Mona Hatoum’s hands, seemingly innocuous objects like light bulbs, toys or even a wheelchair can acquire strange and threatening dimensions. Her intensely visceral sculptures, installations and videos work within a dynamic of conflict both within their form — minimalist yet surreal — and in the emotions they arouse in the viewer.

Exhibited at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, 'Undercurrent' (2004) is a circular arrangement of light bulbs and interwoven wires on the floor.

The throbbing lights warn of danger — of landmines perhaps, or snaking streams of lava — yet are irresistible in their allure. The bulbs brighten and fade with the rhythm of a viewers’ breath; their pulsating motion seeming to encapsulate the mysterious ebbs and flows of the universe in perpetual motion.

Hatoum was born to Palestinian Christian parents in exile in Lebanon and herself became an exile in the UK in the aftermath of a civil war in Lebanon.

While this experience inevitably colours her perception of the world, her works, though political and feminist in a distinctly poetic way, rarely refer explicitly to specific geographies of conflict.

Cloth covered electric cable, light bulbs, computerised dimmer unit \ 31.16 ft in diameter

Alternate Shapes for the Earth \ Nataraj Sharma
Alternate Shapes for the Earth (2014) is Baroda-based artist Nataraj Sharma’s way of challenging the certainties that limit our perception of the world. Conceived in the aftermath of the 2002 communal riots in the state of Gujarat, where he lives, what it also puts forth is a call for coexistence of multiple views and people – “a proposal for tolerance in an intolerant world”.

In this installation, Sharma recasts planet Earth in shapes other than the sphere, all arranged on rotatable sculpting stands, ‘Celestial Works in progress’ as he calls them.

At the base of the installation, interlocked cogwheels stand as symbols of the great unity of forces that animate all things in the universe – from the smallest cells in our bodies to massive stars.

According to the artist, the installation had its origins in a drawing describing the movement of the Earth, Moon and the Sun that he drew while explaining a solar eclipse to his young daughter. A contemplation of this image led him to a vision of the same heavenly bodies as objects in a sort of “divine Karkhana (an artist’s workshop)”. He first executed the idea in the paintings 'Explaining the Solar Eclipse (for Katya)' (1999) and 'Alternate Shapes for the Earth' (2000), later translating the same vision into three dimensions with a sculptural installation. For Sharma, this is an ongoing project. He continues to reshape the forms that the planet takes in successive versions of the installation.                           Fabricated, cast and etched iron (6 units) \ 9.6 x 3 x 3 ft each
Logic of Disappearance \ Madhusudhanan
An internationally feted film-maker and artist, Madhusudhanan’s artistic practice flows seamlessly across media. His fascination with images, especially the advent of the moving image and its place in human history, is reflected in a series of films, paintings and drawings. The feature film 'Bioscope' (2008) is one of his foremost works. It is based on the journey of a new art form —cinema — through India during the colonial period.

Madhusudhanan’s exhibit at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, 'Logic of Disappearance' (2014), is an installation of 90 charcoal drawings.

“There was a lighthouse on the shores of my birthplace; these drawings have been created as image fragments made visible by its sweeping light,” explains Madhusudhanan.

Several historical incidents and characters appear in these poetic nocturnal visions, emerging from the darkness as if from indeterminate points in time.

'The Bogeyman' from Francisco Goya’s etching series 'Capricos' is reborn here as military generals architecting wars. The 1921 model Chevrolet car 'Jagaddal' with its separated horn from Ritwik Ghatak’s film 'Ajantrik' also appears in these spot-lit stills, along with statues of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin that fell in the worldwide turbulence that was unleashed after the Soviet Union collapsed.

The pig, a Buddhist symbol for greed and the thirst for power, also plays in the shadows of Madhusudhanan’s complex landscape of memory, triggering flashbacks of an era gone by.

Charcoal drawings on paper \ 26 x 16 in (each)

Distance of a Day \ David Horvitz
American artist David Horvitz is best known for making the internet a stage for his eccentric and interactive projects. One of his ongoing projects, 'I will think about you for one minute', lets viewers pay Horvitz one dollar on his website or at a gallery to get him to think about them for one minute, with the artist diligently emailing the subject at the beginning and end of that minute.

'The Distance of a Day' (2013) is composed of two phones, placed side by side, playing video recordings of a sunset and a sunrise. The title of the installation is inspired by the word ‘journey’ which once referred to distances travelled in one day (from Middle English journee – “a day’s travel”).

To create it, Horvitz in February 2013 asked his mother to watch and film a sunset near her California home.

As she recorded the sun’s descent over America’s West coast, Horvitz was standing on the coast of The Maldives, capturing a simultaneous sunrise halfway around the world.

Two videos \ Colour \ 12 min each

The juxtaposition of these two moments, when two individuals were separated by a day yet brought together by the intimacy of a shared gaze, forms Horvitz’s installation, played on the devices in which they were captured. The videos act as windows to similar moments unfolding in the present at different points on our rotating planet. Somewhere right now, the sun is setting and rising simultaneously. And two people separated by the intervening day are unwittingly sharing that moment.
Future Perfect, 21st Century \ Marie Velardi
Swiss artist Marie Velardi’s works are intimately connected to time and explore the links that bind humanity’s past and present to the future. She often works like an archivist, assembling projections drawn from science and popular culture to create a ‘memory of the future’.
Untitled \ Aji V N
Aji V N transforms everyday earthly imagery into phantasmagorical visions. Made in charcoal and water colour, his brooding landscapes could be from the Earth’s primordial past. Until one observes signs of small habitations tucked away in them, these panoramic vistas can also evoke visions of an apocalyptic future or scenes from distant planetary surfaces we are yet to encounter.

Born in Kerala, Aji has lived and worked in Rotterdam for the last 10 years.

Topographical features from his coastal home state are a recognisable presence in his paintings, including the untitled suite of works exhibited at the Biennale.

But these meld seamlessly into hybrid, mysterious vistas which lie suspended between the different worlds that the artist inhabits, including the teeming forest that is his imagination.

With their delicate play of light and shadow, these works can sometimes seem as if they are fleeting visions, like mist hanging in the air. But a closer look reveals them to be more like rain clouds: Dark and intensely concentrated, pregnant with hidden meanings. In one of his charcoal paintings, 'Untitled – II' (2014) on view at the Biennale, a crater appears amidst a palm-fringed landscape nestled over calm seas. It is a discovery that suddenly charges the scene with dark foreboding, transforming the clouds above into spectres of a nuclear explosion.                                                                                                                     Untitled II \ Charcoal on coloured paper \ 29.5 x 98.4 in;  Untitled III \ Conte on black paper \ 29.9 x 88.5 in
Where Have All the Stories Gone? \ Susanta Mandal
Susanta Mandal’s recent sculptural installations have explored the ways in which fragile and ephemeral presences — light, shadows, air — interact with and change the solid, static structures they inhabit. For his exhibits at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, Mandal has worked with soap bubbles to create kinetic sculptures where steel and mechanical elements frame an unfolding drama of effervescence and death.
The premise of these sculptures — the simple interactions of air with water and soap salts — is evocative of a range of processes, from cell division to the relentless inflation of the universe. As with Mandal’s other works, lighting and chiaroscuro are important components of these installations and key to their evocations of the uncanny.                                                                                                                                     Where have all the stories gone? \ 2014 \ Steel, iron, motors, air pumps, nylon belt, soap solution, and programming circuit \ Dimensions variable

One of Mandal’s exhibits is from his 2007 series 'It Doesn’t Bite' – “a performance on the structure of steel and stone”. Here, bubbles move with infinite slowness through a coiled steel cage, creating an ephemeral sculpture the vitality of which dies with the eventual disappearance of its moving components.

It Doesn’t Bite – 1 & 2 \ 2007 \ Steel, glass bottle, air pumps, soap solution, and programming circuit \ 34 x 26 x 20 in

Also on display is a sculpture from the 2011 series, How long does it take to complete a circle? that evokes the complex, invisible routes through which matter and energy travel. The long transparent pipes allow a viewer to examine the progress made by bubbles that move within it, infusing drama into an otherwise clinical structure.                                                                       How long does it take to complete a circle? \ 2011 \ Steel, glass pipes, air pumps, soap solution, and programming circuit \ 83 x 79 x 4 in  
'Where Have All the Stories Gone?' (2014), Mandal’s new series of works created for Biennale, is composed of several free standing devices that continuously create fragile globe-like films of soap which ascend from a solution and envelope space for a moment before disappearing. According to the artist, though they disappear, these soap films leave “tangible imprints in memory”, building a “wall of experience that gives form to an idea or a mystery.”
The Column \ Adrian Paci
Cutting across media, Albanian artist Adrian Paci archives the stories of lives set afloat by forces of globalisation; exploring themes of exile, homelessness, and the nature of community and of memory in an age of intense mobility. Having fled to Italy in the aftermath of the 1997 mass rebellion in Albania, Paci himself is no stranger to displacement and its profound psychological impact.
What Is The Speed of Dark? What If The Earth Stopped Spinning? and Is Anything Real? \ Michael Stevens, Vsauce
Michael Stevens is a poet-philosopher of the information age. He is the creator of 'Vsauce', a popular YouTube channel that seeks to tell its viewers amazing facts about the world they live in.

A compelling narrator, Stevens in successive videos draws viewers into a whirlpool of recurrent enquiries.

In a manner that marries the fluidity of spoken-word poetry to a science or philosophy lecture, he sets out to find answers to questions that are a skillful intermingling of the profound with the seemingly naïve and absurd.

In videos that are displayed across the venues of the Biennale, 'Vsauce' attempts to answer a range of questions that many of us may have thought of as children but have since stopped asking: What Is The Speed of Dark? What If The Earth Stopped Spinning? and Is Anything Real?

Delivered in Steven’s inimitable style, these videos act as playful punctuations within the narrative of Whorled Explorations.

Backbone \ Shanthamani Muddaiah
Shanthamani Muddaiah’s practice is intimately linked to the physicality of the materials she employs. Charcoal, a material she frequently uses in sculptures and installations, is fragile against force but signifies to the artist a connection to all that is primordial; the scorched body carrying within its layers traces of thousands of years of ecological and civilisational history. The dark and porous carbon surface imbibes everything around and evokes death as well as reconstitution and renewal.

Muddaiah’s 'Backbone' (2014) is a sculptural installation in the shape of a large spinal column. To the artist, the backbone is a metaphor for the many centripetal forces that hold civilisations together, from rivers to ideologies.

Made of cinder, the combusted remains of coal, the 90-foot-long installation lies curled on the ground like a giant sea serpent, prompting questions about its origin.

Though stronger and more robust than charcoal, cinder is equally evocative. As the artist points out, it is neither ash nor mineral; a material drained of all vitality which she has recast into a sculpture.

Backbone \ 2014 \ Cement and cinder \ 7 x 5 x 71 ft \ Dimensions variable

In its fragmented state, Backbone evokes an archeological site littered with skeletal remains that have suddenly emerged out of the ground. The anonymous fossil dramatically fissures the landscape, goading viewers to re-examine the site they stand on: A coastline littered with the relics of a rich history shaped by exchanges across water.
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