Architectural pavilion becomes space to share in spirit, opening of Biennale

Kochi, Feb 12: As the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) continues to evolve, one element has remained unchanged. Two months into its run, visitors to Aspinwall House can still look up and see the sky as it was over the city on opening night.

Situated amongst the tree garden in the heart of the Biennale’s main venue, the installation by participating artists Eva Schlegel and Carl Pruscha is titled ‘Floating into the night’. The ‘architectural pavilion’, as people have taken to calling it, sports a star chart with constellations identified as they were positioned on 12/12/16.

“The installation itself was ready before the opening. The star chart itself is therefore not a snapshot of the sky per se, but a construct made using predictive sky mapping models,” said Pruscha, an Austrian artist-architect by training, who designed the support structure.

The star map is printed on a 20 m long strip of canvas that rests against a girder bridge that is in turn held up by four steel support rods, which are spaced out from each other and affixed at a 35 degree angle from the ground. Under the starry canopy, there are cushioned chairs, a coffee table and footstools placed upon a raised wooden block.

“The structure is not the story. It is what will become of this space that is the real meaning of the work. We intended it to become an alternate space where visitors can congregate and take a breather, grab a bite to eat or discuss the other artworks,” Schlegel said.

Besides offering shelter from the noon sun, the “space within a space” has witnessed some unique, sometimes impromptu, performances over the past two months. Last month, it hosted the 600th ‘Chenda melam’ performance by the ‘Suvartha’ band from Shanthipuram colony in the city that saw a large crowd swaying and clapping to the furious percussive beats set by 21 young musical talents from the colony.

The site also staged a theatre production by the iconic Delhi street theatre troupe, Jana Natya Manch, last month. As well, it regularly houses the ongoing series of art education and engagement workshops by the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s ‘Art by Children’ initiative.

“The hope is that it becomes a space for the theatre of the everyday, a space for different ideas and peoples to congregate, contemplate and circulate. It is intended as a place of constant, quiet leisure amidst the multiple moving, shifting artworks of the Biennale,” Schlegel said.

Built into the Biennale, the installation evokes meanings and memory both from the Biennale and the surrounds of Kochi, Pruscha said. Perhaps this is because it shares both its title and temporal quality with the 1989 dream pop music album produced by the auteur David Lynch.

“It is a temporary structure that will be collapsed and rolled up once the Biennale is over, but right till the end of March, people – especially those who could not come on the first day – will have a chance to come be part of that beginning,” Pruscha said.  


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