Dance of Death

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Apr 30 2017

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Category: Asia, India

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My usual order of confronting a visual art object: first I look and, in this case at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, I see a collection of hanging light bulbs. If the work permits it I walk around it and try to make sense of what I see. Then I read the legend on the wall, often an essential step when looking at conceptual art.

In this case I learn that the bulbs mark the date ‘the artist’s body came into being’. I think seeing 01-06-1971 as date and since I am told that the artist is born in 1971 I conclude that the lit up figures refer to her date of birth and not of conception. I learn further that the bulbs flicker, although the light appears to be constant. The flickering is not visible to the human eye. I think: then what’s the point? What I find more interesting is the observation that as time passes the bulbs die. So the few bulbs that are dead already are not waiting to be replaced as I initially thought. The installation is meant to change over time; from the moment of birth the dance of death starts as well, and in the end all bulbs will have died. Then darkness will reign and the dance of life is over. This makes the installation into a metaphor of the artist’s – and for that matter anybody’s – life.

Now the collection of hanging light bulbs has acquired more meaning. But what I see is still a collection of hanging light bulbs. In fact I was most enchanted when I had a closer look at one of the dead bulbs. In its glass I saw all the lights around it beautifully reflected, and I imagined I was offered a look into the universe.

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Photos of the week: Yardena Kurulkar, Dance of Death 2016, mixed media with light bulbs, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016, Kerala, India 2016

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