Kochi | The 52hourlong live act by Goa based artist Nikhil Chopra during which he will be drawing on the walls of the cell that he has inhabited in the Aspinwall House is turning out to be one of the most popular works at the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale. People have been gathering in large numbers at the room of 40 year old Chopra where he would be staying for the entire duration of his performance ‘Le Perle Noire: Le Marais’, which began last evening.
Besides painting, the artist will be eating and sleeping in the performance room as well. Chopra has taken on the persona of a fictional colonial character named Black Pearl who inhabits a cell and draws taking inspiration from Periyar Kerala’s longest river. The show will culminate tomorrow evening with a musical performance by a twomember band of vocals and harmonium.
I have been mulling over the idea of what I would do if I were invited to the biennale. This is India’s premier art event and I was immediately excited to be a part of it, said Chopra, who graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Baroda’s M S University and went on to study in Ohio, USA. The fictional historical character is built with the idea of peeling through many layers of political and personal history. The Black Pearl is a reference to pepper and the region’s spice trading past.
The Black Pearl is both ruler and subject; monster and angel. He is armoured, yet defeatedand also a metaphor for that ubiquitous spice which has drawn traders to the Malabar Coast for long, Chopra, a native of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, said. Art experts say it is a bold performance brought to conservative Kerala, even as Chopra remains unfazed.
My favourite audiences are those who are unaware of gallery art and comes to it with curiosity and no preconceived notions, he said. …I expect the audience to engage repeatedly. You don’t get anything from one viewing and just as I do, the audience too should push limits, he added.