Tasmania in Kerala

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Mar 10 2019


Category: Asia, India

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Among the artists invited to take part in the Kochi-Muziris Biennale there are always some that feel the need to make a site-specific installation. For this year’s Biennale the Aboriginal artist Julie Gough has filled a room with rather loosely connected elements that build on her experience as a visitor to Kochi – Kerala – and her own and ancestors’ history as Aborigines in Tasmania.

I liked the crows made of coir fibre (Kerala is the coir state): a crow sitting on a stick inside a room is kind of funny. But for Gough crows still have another less funny significance: “When the British shot our Old People, they discussed and described how many black crows they had killed that day. We are those birds.”

Elsewhere in the room a mass of little shells made a nice heap (Kerala has a long coastline with the Arabian Sea). Gough: “Our ancestors’ coastal living sites remind us of more than 45,000 years of occupation of our island home.”

I can understand a foreign installation artist feels a wish to do something related to the place where her work is shown. But there is a clear danger of not surpassing the superficial. It is not that easy to create a convincing, artistic statement.

Photos of the week: Julie Gough, Installation: Distance is a state of mind, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018, Kerala, India

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