Writers Zacharia, Sethu all praise for Biennale

Writer Paul Zacharia looks at 'Sea Power', the work of British artist Hew Locke for KMB '14 at Aspinwall House.

Kochi: The second edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB) 2014 has made a mark beyond Kerala, so much so that it should be a reference point for the country the next time it plans for a major cultural event, renowned writer Paul Zacharia said today.

“I was proud to see the first edition of the biennale as a Malayali, but this one is so strong artistically, aesthetically and in content, that it has a place of pride in India. It will bring a change in the national art scene,” said the 69-year-old social commentator, who is in Kochi for a couple of days to visit all the eight biennale venues.

Writer Sethu too paid a visit to the ongoing 108-day festival. Having earlier urged the government to lend support to the first edition of the exhibition, the Chendamangalam-born novelist said the ‘Muziris’ aspect of the biennale lent him an emotional connect with it, because his path-breaking novel ‘Marupiravi’ has an angle dealing with this ancient trading port.

As for Zacharia, the heterodox litterateur noted that KMB has outlived strong opposition from all quarters to emerge as a strong socio-cultural force that would sow seeds of transformation in students and homes in a state that has not moved with contemporary trends in art and literature.

“The biennale offers a chance for the Malayali to get out of his self-imposed cage and see global trends in his backyard,” Zacharia said. “The art—be them installations, paintings and videos—are cutting-edge. It is bound to fire up creativity in people.”

Writer Sethu at Dayanita Singh's '1.9.2014 Dear Mr Walter' at KMB '14's Aspinwall House venue.

The novelist-essayist who lives in Thiruvananthapuram felt that the KMB compared favourably to the Sydney Biennale, which he found to be “technical and without ties” to people. “This biennale connects, and throws challenges and raises questions in our socio-cultural context,” said Zacharia. “It makes us rethink our ideologies, fundamentalism in religion and class differences.”

On his part, Sethu said he remembered going to the triennale in Delhi as a child. “Despite all the facilities, the people in the national capital could not take it forward. It is good to see that art survives, and the biennale has stunned its critics into silence,” said the septuagenarian. “It has rallied the support not only of the artistic community, but also of the local people and the government. As a Malayali writer, I am proud that it could be hosted in this corner of the country.”