So. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Yeah. Um.
That’s pretty much what the opening was. An unimpressive series of hesitations with the title of the event paraded on signs. Paraded is too active a word. Pictured. M.I.A performed. She is small and vibrant. I think she was a tad tired, though. I can imagine, I’m tired too! Don’t get me up on stage needing to placate a hundred fans who just sat through 4 (yes, four) hours of listening to the Indian heads of committees and chairs of this and that drone on and on.. and on.. and the drummers who were awesome for the first hour and then kept playing for another two and everyone’s ears turned to mush. I remember actually thinking, I’m so happy to not be on stage right now and not have the responsibility of needing to entertain people. I think her music is super-rad (if I may take the liberty that is rightly mine to sound like a teenaged relic from the eighties). It was indeed cool to see her live, for free at that. The sound system – does this go without saying since we’re in India? – was horrific. Atrocious. Her mic wasn’t turned up at all, while the rest of sound –live dj spinning, computer beats – was blaring. It was an experience, a tiring and colourful one. Got to take pictures from right up close too(!). Happy I saw the show. The officially biennale inauguration I could’ve done without.
So, yeah, they –the biennale- got a major act, good on them. But good on her too, since she gets to exhibit. Which of course I missed. Other people were on top of it but somehow I managed to slack off on this. I couldn’t find it! Maybe because there were no maps of the venus. Oh, right. Take your time, India and artists, take your time. No rush, no pressure. No one’s really here yet anyway, except, well, the people who made the effort to show up on time. (Otherwise known as: Us idiots. What were we thinking?!)
The opening was a cacophony of nothingness. Yes, the sound of nothing happening was that incredibly loud. To me, anyway. There were no waste-baskets (to be expected, but still, come on!) on the grounds. Typically Indian, the inauguration consisted of the Indian heads of committees all up on stage sitting in their chairs, going up to the podium one at a time to ramble on about whatever. (I say this as a person who is interested in art and the festival.) The chief minister was 30 minutes late, of course. Half the people sitting on the chairs on the stage were talking away on their cell phones, audibly, while audaciously/hilariously covering their mouths with their hands, as if this making their rudeness less conspicuous rather than more. Oh, but never mind: Half the Indian audience was babbling away on their phones too. Hysterical. Like an SNL routine: Live from Kochi! Dear Hanuman.
In the next few days following the opening night of auspicious 12-12-12: No buzz, no energy. There were a few talks happening, no exhibitions that I saw were actually set up. Now, I could’ve missed ones that were. I did not get around to everywhere. Muziris might’ve been banging. Fort Kochi, however, was very, very sleepy. My guess is that in a few weeks’ time, the place with jumping with energy, very cool shit will be happening. Momentum and press will be gained, things will roll and there will definitely be tons of stuff worth experiencing. I’m just disappointed that I came at the start, nap-time. I didn’t know. I mean, this could’ve been the one time the Perennial Lates of the world – India and artists – pulled their shit together and got it rocking on time, on schedule. But I guess that wouldn’t be very rocking, would it. Slow build, fashionably late.
Well, I’ll be in Hampi, or maybe another country by the time it gets cooking, by the time licks start flying off fingers, so I will settle with some resignation for a free concert, good dates and cinnamon-spiced coffee. (Vasco’s cafe. Yes please, you are so good.) Not too shabby I know, but for an art-lover, a tad on the disappointing side.
Concession: Around Saturday and Sunday, things started happening, things to see-experience. Slow, yes, an amble not a roll. But still. Review of the opening photography exhibition to come. (Hint: I liked it!!)