Work of Portuguese artist moves out to dockyard
Story Dated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 21:40 hrs IST
Kochi: An air of solemn celebration gripped the sea-facing strip of land at Aspinwall House Tuesday as Rigo23 led two dozen enthusiasts carrying his longish installation and loaded the part-made work onto a fishing boat which carried it to another part of the coastal city.
In the windy afternoon, the US-based Portuguese artist travelled along with fishermen in their mechanised blue boat that took his 10-metre-long structure made of bamboo reeds and choir to the Cochin Shipyard's abandoned dockyard, some 1.5 kilometres away.
There, at the site on Kalvathy Road, Rigo23 will continue his work for the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The three-part installation will face the harbour where Vasco da Gama landed forming Cochin Tower, a twin with Belem Tower that was built in the 16th century to defend Lisbon from seaborne attacks.
"My work seeks to retain memories and preserve stories of the people who enabled the explorations of Vasco da Gama," Rigo23 said, recalling the historical figure who left Portugal and landed at the Malabar Coast in 1498.
Even so,"if you look through my cylindrical work, you will see the (Vallarpadom) container terminal on the other end...An update of where it stands now," he said. Fellow artists joined in at the ceremony of sorts that had a farewell touch to it.
"This looks like a procession," said young Argentine artist Ariel Hassan, while clicking photographs from behind the line-up of volunteers and functionaries with the Kochi Biennale Foundation that is organising the three-month extravaganza slated to end on March 13 next.
"Yeah, for a while now, I will be not seen at Aspinwall," said Rigo23, smiling, as the 46-year-old artist waited for the boat at the ferry by the heritage building where he had been working for the past 17 days, working on the structure that resembles a traditional cylindrical fish-trap with a circumference of two metres.
The boat came a couple of hours later than the original schedule of 12 o'clock, giving the artist some time to fix some tiny lanterns on both sides of his work.
"There are 270 of them. I'll have to complete the whole work. I plan to return on the 29th (of December)." 'Echo Armada', as Rigo23 has named his work, comprises three segments that will carry "untold stories" born of the meeting of locals and Portuguese.
One is a figurative reference to the myth of 'Kaappiri' the Black slaves who the Portuguese killed before leaving Kerala in 1663. Their souls are believed to have been tasked with guarding the masters' treasures hidden deep underground.
Another figure represents the story of Talappana Namboothiri, the high priest murdered by Vasco de Gama by removing his ears and replacing them with dog ears.