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Focus on Female Power gives Biennale Stronger Angle: Minister Thomas Isaac

In Kerala
January 04, 2019

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is a statement underlining female power, which is of topical significance in Kerala in the wake of the permission for women of all ages to Sabarimala, state Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said today.

“Any visitor at the biennale can take his or her own view of the exhibits, right? Left to me, the artworks tend to speak more and more about gender equality,” he said after a round of almost all of the ten venues of the 108-day festival. The minister was accompanied by his family in the day-long visit to the venues in Fort Kochi, Mattancherry and Ernakulam.

“I would even say that certain images and installations reminded me of the vitality of the vanitha mathil (a women’s wall proposed to be formed across the length of the state in favour of the Supreme Court verdict opening gates to all to the Ayyappa hill-shrine),” the minister said, after a second round of the main Aspinwall House in Fort Kochi. “It isn’t surprising, given that the curator of this biennale is a woman (artist Anita Dube).”

Dr Isaac expressed pleasure at the way the exhibits leave the visitor to go for reinterpretations of concepts and ideas. “This is how art must progress,” he added.

Earlier, Kerala Tourism and Culture Secretary Rani George, on her visit to the Biennale, said she was most touched by the depiction of the socio-political life in South Africa by artist William Kentridge and the lost poetry of the banned poets by Shilpa Gupta.

“This year’s Biennale is very much thought-provoking. Each work blends very well with not just the other, but even the scenic beauty of the venue as well as the city,” she added.

Another senior bureaucrat, Dr V Venu, who is CEO of Rebuild Kerala Committee, said the Biennale juxtaposes different contexts into a narrative”. I particularly liked Shilpa Gupta’s work. We see a lot of work focused on gender,” he noted. “I think this edition has the curator’s vision of showcasing a non-alienated world resonating well in the works on display.”

This time’s viewing experience demands a little more patience to understand the thought, according to Dr Venu. “These works are not for somebody who makes a quick entry and exist. This Biennale definitely asks the viewer to spend more time,” he added.

Turning focus on smaller-size works like that of Chandan Gomes, Dr Venu said, “You need to go through each of the work to understand the whole story. There are many other works like his which need patience and time.”