Young Kashmiri student artists ‘recreate’ works damaged by flood

Dated: December 21, 2014

Kochi, Dec 20: A simple title ‘Institute of Music and Fine Arts, Kashmir’ describes a set of works at the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB). The exhibits have been painstakingly brought back to life by a group of young Kashmiri artists who ‘recreated’ their works damaged by the massive September floods of Kashmir this year.

The setting is the Mohammed Ali Warehouse in Mattancherry where visitors at KMB’14 Student’s Biennale is greeted by the visual aesthetics of the energetic and passionate artists upcountry, where River Jhelum wreaked havoc across the Valley.

The entry of these students into the second edition of the biennale was miraculous. It took a Students’ Biennale curator from Kochi to select the entries after the institute under the University of Kashmir was shut down until March 2015. Subsequent support from faculty members helped KMB officials reach out to the students and discuss the possibilities of regeneration.

This month, it took four long days for the group comprising 10 students and a teacher to reach Kochi from Kashmir. As they went round the main Aspinwall House venue, they were fascinated by the artistic extravaganza.

“The Students Biennale is in itself a matter of pride for us,” said KMB’14 director of programmes Riyas Komu. “That it has included youngsters from a place as far as Kashmir is all the more interesting.”

Showkat Kadju of the faculty of Institute of Music and Fine Arts hailed KMB’14 as the “most magnificent” art show he had ever seen. “What is really surprising is the local participation in the biennale. It belongs to the people,” he added.

Appreciating Kochi Biennale Foundation for the “flawless” organisation, he said that giving students an opportunity to present their artworks alongside contemporary stalwarts actually helps banish the hierarchy that put artists into different classes.

Arya Ramakrishnan, a curator of Students’ Biennale, said the artworks from Kashmir represented reconstruction and re-birth. “Ethics drove me at the time of selecting art works from Kashmir. I tried to include as many participants as possible,” he added.

Bushra Mir, a student of the institute, said the floods destroyed all the portfolios of all the students. “But we consider it as a creative intervention from nature,” she said. Saquib Bhat, another student, said: “The energy that KMB gives us will definitely have a positive influence on our future endeavours.”

Showcasing more than 100 works by art students from 37 government art schools in India, Student’s Biennale offers a powerful overview of the pedagogies and practices emerging across the country. Fifteen curators have engaged with final year BFA and MFA students of art colleges to bring together the exhibition.

The exhibition spread over Mohammed Ali Warehouse and KVA Brothers in Fort Kochi has been conceived as part of Kochi Biennale Foundation’s ‘Higher Education Programme’ to create an alternative platform for students from government-run art colleges in India to reflect upon their art practices and exhibit their works to a global audience.

CB

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