When P K Nandakumar set out to be a part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, not in the wildest of his dreams did he anticipate so much hurdles.
A art historian from Mahindra United World College, Maharastra, Nandakumar came to Kochi with the idea of putting up a work at India’s first biennale. Though he travelled across the place, he couldn’t find a suitable locale and had almost given up his search when the turnabout happened.
He stumbled upon a suitable plot to flaunt his artistic installation which looks strikingly different from the rest at the biennale.
For, it is virtually an aesthetic alteration of a plot of land that is small but adjacent to a couple of historic buildings.
Not far from a European-style palace and a Hindu shrine in a pocket of heritage value in West Kochi, the Pune-based Malayali artist is working to beautify a ground that had remained abandoned for long now.
Nandakumar said he was really turned off as he could not find a suitable plot. “But it was then I visited Mattanchery. Up from the Dutch Palace there, I saw the Pazhayannur Devi Temple below and the neglected plot. It was scrubby and had a pond. But, I knew I had found it,” he said.
Three weeks into the biennale, the artist is lending vibrancy to the plot that measures a little over one acre. Before the art fete ends on March 13, the land will have paddy cultivation carpeting it besides a garden of plants and trees alongside and a decked-up water body.
Nandakumar did face hurdles in executing his ideas. The Cochin Devaswom Board said no permanent structure can be dismantled. No snake inside would be killed while clearing the bush. The artist agreed to it all.
He has cleared up a ramshackle building in the plot which has two of its six pillars completely destroyed. One now has been rebuilt, lending it a glassy look by erecting it with injection bottles totaling more than a 1,000.
Apart from that, he has already sowed paddy in a five-cent plot. Bordering it are plants that bear flowers used for offerings in the temple.