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Old-Age Home Inmates take a Break from Gloom, visit Biennale

In Kochi
January 02, 2019

From the gloomy interiors of the old-age home, they arrived at the bright environs of Aspinwall House to take in the joy of art — and more importantly the fun of sharing ideas and views whatsoever.

The senior citizens may not have heard of ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’ that is the curatorial theme of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, but all the 15 of them symbolised its essence on Thursday when they got together at the main venue of the country’s only festival of its kind. The visit spanned no less than three hours.

Travelling 12 km from their Government Old Age Home at Thevara and accompanied by the caretakers of the institution, the doddering men and women took a curious round of the exhibits, brimming with wonder and lighting up minds in the evening of their life.

Valsala, for instance, remarked that the Biennale “somehow” rekindled memories of her life in Kolkata where the septuagenarian had spent her youthful years. “I really liked the way the art mediators explained to us about each piece of art,” she gushed. “How resourceful!”

Sarasu, moving along with Valsala, went to the extent of rating the works. “I liked the installation by Shambhavi,” she said, referring to the work by the 52-year-old Delhiite artist who is originally from Patna. For Sarasu, it the new plough in Shambavi’s ‘Maati Maa’ that decodes the harsh realities took her for a trip down memory lane.

At sea-facing Aspinwall on a day that began with rains, the inmates were provided with electric vehicles to take a round of within its compound. As for Saraswati, the colonial-era Aspinwall itself turned out to be a great work of art. “This venue drives us away from our routine loneliness.” she said, adding she was impressed by Mexican Tania Candiani’s musical instrument made of the loom.

Viswanathan, another inmate, was keen to capture an image of his posed in front of South African Sue Williamson’s installation. “This is very good,” he added. Vijayan Achari G, who is superintendent of the Old Age Home, said he enjoyed his assignment of taking the inmates to refreshing places in the city. “We have 43 inmates now, but not all are fit for outings,” he said. “It’s most often one-day trips. We have helpers to take care of each traveller with us.”

The fourth edition of the 108-day Biennale, curated by eminent artist Anita Dube, has 94 artist projects being exhibited in the city’s ten venues, the main being Aspinwall House.