October 8, 2014

Social Media Week Mumbai 2014 : Social Media for Social Change

The Social Media Week (SMW ) has to be the most looked forward to event in blogosphere. Not just for  bloggers but for social media folk from across categories ... facebookers, tweeters, instagrammers, social media marketers, Big Brands ... the whole Net-working, Net-talking community! This is the chance for everyone to catch up on what is new, learn new strategies, gain new insights, and meet new people who 'speak the same language' .
So when one of the the SMWs is about to be held in Mumbai, as well as in several other cities around the globe simultaneously, there is a buzz that refuses to be hushed down.
5 whole days of events ranging from panel discussions to livestreamed talks ... and oh yeah, let's not forget the networking! I think I like that part the best, frankly.

I found out about the Social Media Week Mumbai 2014 from a post on BlogAdda's page. ( I love BlogAdda! They have this very professional yet cordial approach which fits in so well with the way I like to blog. I had attended their bloggers' meet earlier in the year and thoroughly enjoyed it) And immediately rushed to register. But that's when I hit my roadblock .
ermmm... how do I say this ? ... I had not activated my cards! *major, red-as-a-matador's-cape blush!*
So every time I hit the Pay Now button, my screen screamed back "Transaction not valid"!
So mortifying ... and so frustrating.
And, due to a peculiar set of circumstances, I was too house-bound to go out and do something about it. I could've screamed, but guilt made me settle for  a frenzy of swearing that I would keep my wayward to-do list under tighter control. (But, I must confess that I don't have any intention of using a credit or debit card unless I really, really must, so this one item was always way down in the order of priorities).

So there I was, more or less resigned to missing out on a Don't-Miss! event. There were so many sessions that I was just craving to attend. A panel discussion on social media and brand value titled "Are brands effectively using social media? Are they too focused on volume instead of value?" was one. I would've thoroughly enjoyed that, I think.
Just as I would have been interested in Rushina Munshaw-Ghildayal's Masterclass on Food Blogging. No, I don't have a food blog but I have been publishing  'The Urban Gardener' since 2008, with posts about growing my own food (among other things) so that is very much the same in many ways. And what is interesting for one blogger is almost always of interest to others too (we speak the same language , don't we? Some of us a bit more fluently than the others, of course!).
I most definitely wanted to know about the "Social Media trends to watch out for in 2014" and I was thoroughly intrigued by the topic of "Brand YOU..." hosted by Tanvi Bhatt .

And then, breakthrough! One of the bloggers' Groups on Facebook where I peek in every so often had this post by the wonderful Sharon who blogs at The Keybunch, asking whether anyone wanted to attend the SMW Mumbai as she had a ticket but couldn't use it. Brilliant! (er... about the ticket, I mean. I would've loved to catch up with Sharon who is a very dear friend!)
Thank you, Harish, at Team BlogAdda for facilitating that ticket transfer. You guys have been super-helpful!

By now I had already missed 3 days of SMW but hey! I'm not complaining! Because Day 4 had this brilliant talk by the very eloquent Ansoo Gupta about "Using social media to enhance your travels ..."  and that was a topic very close to my heart. Not only because I am in the process of rejuvenating my own dormant but much-loved travel-blog, 'India-a-h!' and I have high expectations of hitting the road very soon (so delicious to plan!) and blogging about it, but also because Ansoo and I have been in touch for some time and planning to meet up but for some reason it had not yet worked out. So this happening with her talk the first on the agenda was almost like a Sign!

One word of advice: if you ever get a chance to attend one of Ansoo's travel workshops, don't miss it! She is a seasoned traveller who knows all the best places to go to and the best way to reach there. Even better, she knows how to find that best way. Nope, it's not by dumping that responsibility on the travel agent but by using the power of the social media!
In fact, one of her insights was that travel has become cheaper because of social media. Now one can easily browse and surf their way to the most economical airlines and accomodations . Pinterest is one of the social mediums that is a great tool for finding interesting and exciting out-of-the-way places. The Thorn Tree forum, Trip Advisor, Zomato and Sky Scanner (among others) are all great resources according to Ansoo . I can second that! I use all of them regularly when I plan my travel. Or even when I'm just dreaming of travel.
Go to the places where the locals eat, she advised. Talk to the people around to find great restaurants, etc. (and that's when you turn the social media off, incidentally).
 Such a lovely person. And a very wise traveller too, apparently.

And so the day continued with one inspiring talk following on interesting panel discussions. I particularly enjoyed hearing about "the emergence of new media powered content distribution channels" . Harvinderjit Singh Bhatia of Radiowalla Network had me going ,"but that's brilliant!" while talking about his radio-based enterprise. And I thought radio was dead?! All it takes is imagination and an enterprising spirit to reinvent the wheel. And, of course, social media!

There were  way too many interesting events that I wished I could attend but with some being held at the same time as the other, it soon became a toss-up when deciding which one to attend finally. I hope the organisers will be uploading videos of the events so those who missed out can still have a chance of catching up.

One of the events I did attend was the one which discussed the role of "Influencers". I had mixed reactions to some of the opinions voiced here. On the one hand, I do realise that there is a group of bloggers who are blogging as a purely commercial activity. In fact, one of the panelists, Kiran Manral (blogger and author) , even spoke of receiving a rate-card from a blogger who offered to "review" her book! Frankly this makes me wonder whether we can still ascribe the same term, "blogging" to what they are doing and the work of so many outstanding bloggers whom I regularly read, who spend hours and days polishing a line and a phrase in each post and who spend hours in extreme conditions to get the perfect photo for their blog.
We really need to come up with a new term for those for-money-only bloggers (monggers?).
No, I'm not looking down on them. It is purely a business for them and they are quite upfront about it. But it does go against the grain to place both types of bloggers on the same platform, don't you think? Especially since the attitude of the strictly-commercial-bloggers is affecting the attitude of others, especially the Brands, towards the other bloggers.
That is the 'on the other hand' that I had not got around to. Isn't it high time that marketing professionals started acknowledging the power of bloggers and give them their due worth in terms of respect and value?  A leading decor blogger of the country mentioned how she kept getting requests from magazines for free photos and articles in exchange for the "exposure that she will get". And this is a blogger with readership already running into several hundreds of thousands. Do you think a top feature-writer / journalist would ever get an offer or request like that?
Yes, I know ... I can rant endlessly on this topic but I will leave it for another day, another post!

Day 5 and there is great excitement among the delegates. THE Jeff Bullas, digital marketing guru, is due to talk and no one wants to miss this! His presentation on "the journey to earned traffic and authority on the social web" has the most attendance among all the events so far. And no wonder! No one wants to miss the Master!
So what did I like about his inspiring talk? The personal story of how he started blogging was one. Then all those tips ...understand the target market, use Coke's 70/20/10 Principle (70% of Content is low-risk, 20% of content should be innovative and 10% can be high-risk content) and most importantly, "just start" creating content!
More words of wisdom: You need to be in as many places as possible; not just Facebook and Twitter.
So absolutely true! I really need to work on that myself.

And then there was BuzzFeed's Scott Lamb talking about "Understanding the Art & Science of Social Sharing" If you've ever visited BuzzFeed you'll know just how many of their posts go viral. And now I hear that there really is an art and science behind it ... remarkable! So how do you create a post that is bound to be shared? Match the format to the story, for one. And don't 'over-promise' with the headline while 'under-delivering' with the story. And no clickbait!

After this global touch, the next pair of speakers could not have been more different! Fahim and Tauseef, Founders of the Dharavi-based Be The Local Tours spoke passionately of how the power of the social media had created a huge impact in Dharavi which had hitherto been known only for its slums. The creation of part-time jobs and imparting a sense of pride and dignity is no small change. It is life-changing and was possible mainly due to the social media strategies that they had adopted. I could not have felt more proud of these two... bravo!

Obviously I was not the only one affected because the next speaker, Viral Oza of Microsoft, seemed very impressed by their tale too. His talk on marketing in the ever evolving market place could be applied to the world of personal blogging too : focus on 'what is the consumer take-out?'. The rest of it doesn't matter, according to him. Every touch-point is a potential moment of truth. Using each touch-point in a contextually relevant matter is  key.
But over and above all, Keep your eye on what you want the consumer (or reader, if you are a blogger) to take away.

So what did I take away from SMW Mumbai? An absolutely fantastic event hosted in a lovely place ( I loved Novotel on Juhu Beach!).Brilliant content and a well-streamlined event. Meeting so many new and interesting people in the social media world. Learning new strategies, new insights. Hearing some awesome speakers. Something I would look definitely forward to attending again.

January 9, 2014

New skills and gifts for a new year

Hey, it's a new year already! Did you party? Catch up with friends? And, how are you doing with all those resolutions you made around January 1st?
Let's start the new year on a happy note, shall we? Learn new skills, improve old ones ... 2014 is going to be so good!

( image courtesy:  Craft & Vision )

For starters, head over to Craft & Vision to download David duChemin's free e-book on photography, 'Craft & Vision 2- More Great Ways to Make Stronger Photographs'. This 45-page e-book in pdf form is filled with tips and techniques in 9 articles that will help you to boost your photographic skills. You'll love it, I know. I just got my copy and can't get over David duChemin's "random act of kindness to the photography community". What an incredibly generous offer!

And, as long as we are on e-books, take a look at the free e-books offered by Open Culture. 500 great works of fiction and non-fiction (and some poetry) are on this eclectic list. You'll find Chekhov, Nietzsche, Proust, Noam Chomsky and JD Salinger there. As well as JM Barrie (Peter Pan), Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter and  L. Frank Baum.
Put those iPads and Kindles and other gadgets to good use while commuting, my peeps! 500 books should keep you entertained for a long, long time.

If you're an art-lover, there are more goodies coming your way! The Metropolitan Museum of Art has over 300 out-of-print titles available to read online or to download here. Now what if I told you that these include works such as 'Leonardo da Vinci : Anatomical drawings from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle' ? This one promises hours of reading heaven!

Oh, and one last gift to start the new year right ... improve your education. Yeah,okay ... you quit college 20 years ago / you're busy during the day / you can't travel / you're too busy with other things most of the time / you don't want to sit in a class with kids young enough to be your grandkids / and on and and on ...
But, the power of the internet has blasted all those obstacles out of the way. Now you have some of the best universities in the world putting together truly awesome courses which you can access online and they're free! So you could take some classes from MIT, Yale, Stanford and Harvard (among others) while chilling out in good ole Mumbai.
And the plus point? Many of these universities give you a certificate when you complete the course. (A certificate from Harvard or MIT ... I know of people who would kill for even a letter from these institutions!)
Take a look at this comprehensive list of courses . What a great start to 2014!

March 6, 2013

Kochi-Muziris Biennale : The art of new beginnings - Part II

Welcome back to the concluding post about the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. If you missed the first post, 'KMB: The Art of New Beginnings',  head here to catch up.

... Following up to the awesome graffiti on the building which caught my eye, the next stop was Calvetty Jetty.

Rigo 23's (yes, that is the name he goes by) 'Echo Armada' is one of the most interesting installations! Go to Calvetty Jetty to see this trio, but first click on the link. I loved reading the story behind these works. And I loved the reflections in the water.

At first sight, one just sees this big installation in its entireity.But look a little closer and you see the bamboo, the rope framework and the shifting reflections in the water below ...

... and then you notice the lamps. Brilliant!
I wish I could see it lit up...

I wish I had better photos of the other 2 works that complete the Armada. They were definitely worth including here, especially the one which is partially visible in the second photo from the top.

The Biennale seems to be inspiring all the graffiti-artists in Fort Kochi. I found this on a wall near Moidu's Heritage, another of the venues of the KMB. Here's a rough translation:
Our Biennale. "It's time to think differently, isn't it?"
"Yes, you're right."
"How about a cup of tea?"

Moidu's Heritage Plaza was interesting. I loved the video installation,'Citizen's Band' by Angelica Mesiti. Don't miss it! It's beautiful. Four screens on the walls of a dark room and mats on the floor to squat and enjoy 4 short films of "music being performed in an urban environment". The way these 4 films mesh and blend together is nothing short of lyrical!

Over at Aspinwall, the works are scattered over such a large area that it's advisable to follow directions and tour the place in the indicated order. Break out of that and I think I'd be so lost that I would've missed out on half the exhibits.
One of the first works I saw here is 'Dutty Water' by Wangechi Muttu.

I know that is a bit tough to read but if you click on the picture you'll find an enlarged version of this info-text..
"Dutty Water is a work that expresses my thoughts on how the idea of a clean, pure, neutral space is in fact nothing more than a very well constructed and heavily guarded fiction. In my mind there is no such thing as intrinsic purity; purity is rather our attempt to sterilize a space or a thing to make it more digestible to our minds and perhaps more malleable to those of others."  

'Last Supper - Gaza' by Vivek Vilasini is intriguing . Just as intriguing was the story that the models who posed for it are all art / design students. I can see how much they must've enjoyed this!

I loved Amar Kanwar's mixed-media installation, The Sovereign Forest  .  It is haunting! A long, darkened room with neatly labelled little trays of rice grains. Each one different. Each one indigenous. And so exotically named!

Each one unheard of (by me, at least). 'Fakir', 'Goruchai', 'Dudhukajhara', 'Hatipinjara', 'Kalatulasi'....
And therein lies the story. It is a tragic story of usurpation and power struggles and suppression. Of loss of land and livelihood and lifestyles. Of a people struggling to grow and sell the grains that are part of their heritage. Of industry giants who manoeuvre markets so that these seeds of heritage slip away.
It is a call to remember what we stand to lose.

Rashid Rana's 'Language Series' is like a gift that you unwrap layer by layer. Except, here you discover layer upon layer as you approach closer to this work. Take a look at the following pics :

See what I mean? 
I know that the official text about this work says something else. Probably the artist himself meant something else with this work. But this is my take. Isn't that what art is all about? 

I regret that I couldn''t get good photos of two of my favourite installations. Dylan Martorell's mixed media installations play on the magic of sound and include a certain playfulness that is so refreshing. I can just imagine the impact these installations must have on young minds!
Just picture a 10-year old walking into this room, touching one of the suspended soft-drink cans and hearing the sounds that it leads to, then touching a potted plant or a basket  or ... and every time there is a new sound created.
The creation of wonder! That's what makes magicians out of artists!

Okay, I know this pic may make no sense to you. I just wanted you to have a look at the room so you'll get an idea of the display.

On the wall, the neon sign looks like gibberish.
But look at the reflection in the water ... Alfredo Jaar's 'Cloud for Kochi' is brilliant! I love this! Using Kalidasa's 'Meghadoot' in a modern context and it is still lyrical.

L.N.Tallur's 'Veni, Vidi, Vici' has to be one of the most photographed installations of the KMB.  At first, I did wonder what these 2 banks of roof tiling were doing in an art event. But then, never underestimate anything that you find at the KMB!  

See what I mean?
Who would dream of finding yogis sprouting from a terracotta tiled roof?

Even if they have conquered gravity and all possible laws of physics and seem able to conquer the viewers sense of wonder too?

Sheela Gowda and Christoph Storz's 'Grinding Stones' . I love the way they used something so common-place as this piece of kitchen equipment from a few decades back.
These discarded stones could tell so many stories. Of spices and batters ground, of feasts, of weddings and family get-togethers and home-comings ... Such an intrinsic part of the home, almost like the foundation!
 I love the space where they displayed this installation and it looks like I am not alone. Several people chose to click as many photos of the view as of the installation.

Go over to Vivan Sundaram's 'Black Gold' to get a taste of history. Real history! He used pottery shards found at the excavation site at Pattanam (which is believed to be the location of Muziris) to create this large story-map of this ancient port-city that sank into anonymity following a flood. I read about the intriguing story behind this installation here.

There is a sense of swirling and flowing, much like that of a river. And of memories.

Subodh Gupta's installation is huge. Both in terms of size as well as its story. It is a familiar one in Kerala and over most of India too. 

I've never been surrounded by so much colour! Thank you, Zhang Enli. And I loved the pics showing him creating this (see the link in the list at the end of the post).

I smelled Anant Joshi's 'Three Simple Steps' long before I saw it. It smelled like all the small-time theatres I've been to back in the days when multiplexes were not even dreamt of. Seriously! The overpoweringly strong smell of attar hits you like a giant wave and pulls you in. Seeing it is enchanting! Rows upon rows of liquid dispensers using attar instead of mosquito-repellant, have been harnessed to create a very striking sight-and-smell installation.

Somehow all those rows of lights reminds me of the walls of temples lit up with lamps at festival time. And this little 'room' set in one of the walls just reinforced that image in my mind.

Here's what I found when I peeked in!

From here on my camera gave up. It was growing late and the lack of bright light made me pass up several artworks for this post. One of them was the passage filled with painted postcards by children from various schools. It's wonderful that an art event pays heed to the new generation waiting in the wings. 

This huge nest-like installation suspended outside is intriguing! Srinivasa Prasad's 'Erase'  provides a gunny-bag inclined pathway to approach the bamboo structure. Once there, the bamboo 'nest' is a receptacle for one's negativity and bad karma. Leave it all behind! 
I loved this! 'Chhap', created by some students of CEPT university, uses Kerala's favourite ... the coconut (or rather, its shell) ... to make this. It is so fun! And, having CEPT alumna, Mridula Jose, interior architect and VP of CGH Earth, filling me in on all the background details and behind-the-scenes stories, just added to it.
I loved the various designs on the shells. Drilled, painted, carved ....  I just wish the light was good enough for me to take better pictures!
But here is just one close-up (blur and all!) to give you an idea of this work.
David Hall is one of my favourite places in Fort Kochi. I love the ambience of this old Dutch structure (almost as much as the fact that hearsay links it to Hendrik van Rheede who had the brainwave of compiling the 'Hortus Malabaricus', a database of Kerala's many medicinal plants ).
But that was in the past. Today, David Hall is a part of CGH Earth, and has been transformed into one of the region's most interesting art galleries, promoting local art and culture. It was also the last KMB venue where I decided to stop by.
I'm so glad that so many of the original architectural features of this 17th-century structure have been preserved. Too many of these lovely old buildings are being re-modelled to fit into convoluted kitschy ideas of what 'vintage' looks like.

The fact that it has an outdoor cafe set in a very green but not too clipped and manicured garden makes it even more delightful.
I found out that this where several workshops are also held, a recent one being conducted by Guet, sculptor and artist, for children, in creating kinetic art using scrap material. Love it!
Just as much as I love this. Bose Krishnamachari's LaVa (Laboratory of Audio Visual Arts) project is one that sings to my heart. 
I just wish I had enough time to sit down and read all those books (or at least some of them! )
And this was another section of the gallery where an exhibition of tribal art was going on. Such a delicious juxtaposition of the urban contemporary to tribal art from some of the most under-developed parts of the country! 

I missed this! The Cosmic Matrimony Dartboard by Vanessa Meister and Krishnan Varma is so super-fun and wacky that I can feel myself begin to grin all over again. This talented duo have their own separate spheres of work (Krishnan is an architect, while Vanessa is a fashion designer whose designs sell under the Trumpet by Meister label) but worked together on this installation.
Go take a look at the album on Facebook ... the concept is hilarious! (there I go, grinning again!)

There are way too many works of art which I missed out on , either due to lack of time or because the light was not good enough to capture good photos or because this post is seriously becoming way too picture-heavy. I keep promising myself that I'm going to be there bright and early next time around, in 2014, for the second edition of the KMB. Until then ... hope you enjoyed seeing the Biennale through this post.

All the photos, except the last one and 2 pics of David Hall, were taken by me. 
Photo of 'Cosmic Matrimony Dartboard' : by Vanessa Meister (published here with permission)
The photo of Bose Krishnamachari's LaVa Project and the one showing the outdoor cafe of David Hall were shared by CGH Earth.

Links :
Kochi-Muziris Biennale : About 
Muziris  :           http://www.muzirisheritage.in/muziris-heritage.html
Pattanam  :        http://www.muzirisheritage.in/pattanam-excavation-site.html
Rigo 23 : 'Echo Armada' article
Angelica Mesiti :  http://www.angelicamesiti.com/ 
Wangechi Muttu : http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/wangechi-mutu/
Rashid Rana :     http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/rashid-rana/
Amar Kanwar :  The Sovereign Forest
Alfredo Jaar :   Article
Sheela Gowda : Photogallery at TOI
Vivan Sundaram : http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/vivan-sundaram/
Subodh Gupta :   http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/subodh_gupta.htm
Zhang Enli :         http://arts.cultural-china.com/en/77Arts10347.html
Anant Joshi :     http://westheavens.net/en/artist/joshi-anant/
Srinivasa Prasad  : http://www.artindiamag.com/quarter04_04_10/profiles_Marta04_04_10.html
CEPT University :  http://www.cept.ac.in/
David Hall    :   On Facebook
CGH Earth  :     On Facebook
                         Earth calling
Hortus Malabaricus : download
Bose Krishnamachari : Interview
MeisterVarma         :  http://meistervarma.com/
Trumpet by Meister : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Trumpet-by-Meister/128095490603307
                                Cosmic Matrimony Dartboard

KMB in the Press : Art Slant
                              Art Territory
                             Art Dubai 
                             The Telegraph
                             India Today
                             BBC - slideshow
                             Times of India

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February 5, 2013

Kochi-Muziris Biennale : the art of new beginnings

I've always thought Fort Cochin (or Fort Kochi ) is like one of those story-book places; full-of old-world charm and slightly fantastical ... as if it's living in its own time-zone . Perhaps it's the towering, ancient Rain Trees all over the place, touching canopies and dripping with ferns, that does it.
Or the white-washed walls laden with crimson bougainvilleas and beautiful gardens sprouting old, tile-roofed  bungalows within.
The antique shops and quaint cafes  and ferry boats.
Or the musty old spice warehouses and unused yards smothered in vegetation.
The Dutch palaces with Kerala murals, Chinese fishing nets, Jewish synagogues, Jain temples, Portuguese churches, British clubs, Indian spices and history seeping through every brick and stone.
And the very picturesque water-front that wraps around it all, dotted with fishing boats and cargo ships and sea-birds.
Oh, the romance of it all ... !

But now, it looks like I've to stretch my mind a bit more and include the art that is spilling out onto its streets too. And drawing more people than I've ever seen there before.

Now, I can almost picture Kochi's predecessor and alter-ego, Muziris , as it must have been, way back in the first century A.D. ... bustling, thronging with people of all nationalities (at least, the trading ones), buzzing with an undeniable energy and conversations in myriad tongues. King Solomon's ships came looking for spices here. So did those of the Pharaohs, the ancient Greeks and the Romans as well as the Chinese!  
Today, centuries after this port-town on the Malabar coast of Kerala in the southern tip of India, fabled for its access to treasured spices, timber and gems, was flooded by the river Periyar and sank into anonymity, it finds a resurrection of sorts in India's first Biennale. The Kochi-MuzirisBiennale  .

I couldn't resist the celebration of contemporary art by artists both local and international either. So, I flew to Kochi and coaxed Mridula Jose, interior architect from CEPT,  to show me around. ( She's also the author of an architectural study and is the VP, Product Development of CGH Earth whose David Hall Gallery is one of the venues of the Biennale. But the really big bonus for me was that her work in conservation and adaptive reuse of heritage buildings made her the perfect person to tell me about the venues as well as the art on display. That's what bloggers call good karma! )  

I went to Fort Kochi prepared to have the venues to myself or, at the most, to share them with a few art-enthusiasts. Instead, I found them bustling with people from all walks of life: school-kids racing excitedly from one installation to the next,all sparkly-eyed and wide-smiled with enthusiasm, doddering old grandpas squinting at some of the artworks, young couples enjoying the cool breeze from the backwaters just as much as the art, clusters of housewives, tourists, a priest in flowing robes striding briskly in, and yes, a few bewildered, head-scratching individuals too who couldn't figure out just what to think of the contemporary art on display.  

I clicked a camera-load of photos there and still regret that I couldn't take more of some of the venues. Unfortunately I don't have details of all of them (I thought I was being clever in clicking the write-ups too but didn't account for the fading light in the evening!). So if you can help me with details which I have missed out on, please let me know and I'll add it here. 
And now, I'll let the photos do most of the talking, okay? (This is a picture-heavy post; be warned!)

The approach to Cabral Yard (across the road from Aspinwall) was a revelation of things to come. We drove down a leafy, rain-tree lined road to another and turned a corner to find art taking over the street! 
I love street art and graffiti, so finding it here put me in just the right frame of mind. 

So refreshing to find art instead of political slogans on the walls here! No, actually the slogans were still there in the background, I think, but the art just grabbed everyone's eyeballs so we barely noticed anything else.

And inside the yard, after trampling through an exuberantly over-grown mud-path, were some very interesting installations, including this one by Sudarshan Shetty. 

Really makes you think, doesn't it?

After buying tickets at Aspinwall, we went to Pepper House which has some of the most interesting art on display, including this rusty anchor with twisty chains by Alex Mathew. And the view of the waterfront beyond  isn't half bad either!

'Leave your shoes here' by Hossein Valamanesh is one of my favourites. I love the play of light and dark and silence to create a very powerful, almost spiritual effect.

And, as with all good art, these pictures just don't do it justice.

I loved it that almost everywhere, people were interested enough to actually read about the works that they were viewing. And I also loved it that the venues are old buildings most of which are not in use (which explains the wear and tear on some of them). I love the juxtaposition of the modern and the old! 

Gert Jan Kocken's works seem to fit in so beautifully into this space. The theme, though, is a bit disquieting, especially since we're now seeing so much of this kind of defacement of art because of some individuals' personal interpretations of religion. 

I love this installation! The long hall with aged-wood flooring and light streaming in through window after window, while outside the swaying green tree-tops and water-scape added to the luminous serenity of the scene. The sheer silence and lack of people in the hall was almost like a bonus that just added to the beauty of it all.

In fact, I liked it so much that I had to share one more view of it.

For some reason I didn't hear the 'saturated surround sound' mentioned in the text above. It was not on and I had no idea that I was expected to switch it on (so much for ideal scenarios). But I loved this anyway.

The next room was as different as it could be similar. Almost empty again, except for a family with young children curiously running up the ladders to take a look at what was just out of sight from below, 'The Attic' by Anita Dube was one of the most disturbing works for me personally.
I'm not very fond of heights but I bravely tottered up one of those rickety ladders because I just had to see what was up there!

What had seemed to be a serene room  below stairs took on dark overtones once those ladders were climbed and I poked my head through the hatch into the attic. The almost stifling atmosphere made me pause and the now-audible feminine sobs and odd ominous sounds (clink of anklets, the thump of what sounded like footsteps ... common-place sounds, yet which sounded almost predatory and ominous now) hinting at impending danger, made my hackles rise and I was as frozen as I was impelled to run away from there! I could seriously feel myself start to sweat now.
I wobbled my way down that ladder and I needed long moments away from there, at one of the windows looking down at the greenery around and people calmly sipping their cups of coffee before I felt my nerves settle again.
I wonder if I would've been as affected if we had not been still reeling from the shock of thebrutality in Delhi just a few days earlier. Most definitely, I think.
I wonder what those young kids thought of this installation...

As I leave Pepper House, I look back through the wooden door. And read the inscription around the arch on the far wall. "All of past must be resurrected".

But remember what I said about Art spilling out on to the streets?

I LOVE THIS! I told you I like graffiti, didn't I? But you already knew that.
What I love about this is the fact that this building is apparently not even one of the official venues of the KMB! Oh, the sheer deliciousness of it!

And here's another look at it.

And it's so detailed. I love the vibrant colours, the graphics, the scale .... all of it! This was definitely one of the high points of the KMB for me.

I found these names painted on the side of the building. I assume they're the artists. If so, then Aravind Raju, Biju R., Irshad Mavayil, Mohammed Riyas, Prashanth K.V., Shanto Antony and Sujeendran, take a bow. You guys are brilliant! 

I found that I have far too many interesting pics of the Kochi - Muziris Biennale. I tried to short-list them to fit into 1 blog-post but it just couldn't be done. And that, in spite of the fact that I couldn't even visit all the venues and that towards the end of the day I just couldn't click any more pics because of the bad light!
I don't want this to be so picture-heavy that it takes forever to load, so I'll take a break here. Come back soon to read Koch-Muziris Biennale, Part II which will be posted in a few days.

One last bit of advice... go, book a ticket to Kochi. Take a look and soak in the creative spirit of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Hurry! It's on only until 13th March, 2013.
In the meantime, Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern,  speaking about the Importance of Public Investment in Art  is a Must-Watch! And take a look at the links below before you go, okay?

(Just noticed ... KMB is using the same tag-line as Chai 'n Spice. What a coincidence! )

Kochi-Muziris Biennale, official site : http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/the-kochi-muziris-biennale/                
Muziris Heritage site : http://www.muzirisheritage.in/muziris-heritage.html#
CGH Earth : http://www.cghearth.com/ 
David Hall : http://www.cghearth.com/traveller/earthcalling&IssueId=9 (see page 3)
Sudarshan Shetty : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudarshan_Shetty
                             Times of India article
Alex Mathew :  http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/interview-with-alex-mathew
Hossein Valamanesh :  http://www.mca.com.au/collection/artist/valamanesh-hossein/ 
                                   Out of Nothingness 
                                   Video on YouTube  (watch this!)
Gert Jan Kocken : http://www.gertjankocken.nl/ 
Ibrahim Quraishi : http://ibrahimquraishi.org/ 
Anita Dube :   http://www.khojworkshop.org/user/anita_dube 

KMB in the Press : An interface between Art and Heritage
                             India Ink 
                             Financial Times 
                             Times of Indi
                             The Hindu      
                             India Today 
                             Art Observed     

(I have to thank Bharat Bhushan, my wonderful friend, for helping me to replace this blog-post which my fidgety fingers had accidentally deleted while editing. Bharat, you're a genius! )