Tucked in an open little space inside a bustling market selling ethnic items, Tricia Van Eck and her team have come up with a unique show of images and objects that highlight ways to conserve heritage- one idea which is also integral to the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
The two-month project, which the American has curated along with two others, contrasts the general sights of the historical Jew Town in West Kochi with an organic garden that lines up photographs, drawings, diagrams, artists' books and pamphlets which focus on how communities around the world are redefining their critical needs and devising solutions for long-term sustainability of nature.
Thus, "Rooting (India): The Knowledge Project" connects art, food and ecology through projects by artists, activists and farmers from primarily India and the United States, says Chicago-based Tricia who has conceived the biennale collateral along with Delhi-based artist-activist Akshay Raj Rathore Singh and American Deborah Boardman. The images depict nearly three dozen works.
"Here we make no complaints; no statements even. We essentially present instances of solutions to ecological, social and economic challenges faced by farmers and consumers across the globe," says Tricia, standing in the midst of potted plants and printed images on display around visitors sipping organic tea served at the Garden of Yousuf Art Gallery in Mattancherry, not far from the main venues of KMB'14 in Fort Kochi.
"Here we actually encourage casual conversations," adds Tricia, who runs the 6018 North Gallery in Chicago, a city where she worked for 13 years as assistant curator in Museum of Contemporary Art. "We have created a meeting space to connect, discuss, and discover potential solutions to ecological, social, and economic challenges faced by farmers form South Asia and USA."
The KMB'14 Knowledge Project, which will be on till February 12, not just employs organic farming in the precincts; it even hands out seeds of foodgrains, vegetables and fruits to the visitors.
Besides books for reference, there is a relief-surface table which can yield images by placing on it a paper and colouring it with the pencils provided.
"You are encouraged to make a rubbing," says Tricia about the work titled Table of Contents: Genesis.
The group allied with the food magazine Forager Collective has carved agricultural images and scenes of farming from Indian rupee notes onto the table to question how food is valued.