LET­TER FROM THE ED­I­TOR-IN-CHIEF

India Today - - SPICE -

Nov­el­ist Gra­ham Greene once ob­served, “Cinema has to ap­peal to mil­lions.” It is prob­a­bly this need for a mass draw that pre­cludes film as a great art form on par with the­atre, lit­er­a­ture, or paint­ing. This need not be the case as we know that film is ca­pa­ble of art of the high­est or­der. It is this dilemma that we found our­selves con­tend­ing with pop­u­lar ac­tor, Hrithik Roshan, as he posed for the cover of our Art Spe­cial. Roshan is con­scious of how Bol­ly­wood mea­sures suc­cess largely by box of­fice re­turns, but prefers to let pas­sion guide his de­ci­sions. He sur­rounds him­self with art in many forms, whether it’s the pro­lific S.H. Raza or graf­fiti artists Daku and Banksy. The en­er­getic evo­ca­tion of art can nei­ther be li­censed nor tamed. It is this courage and tran­sience that is the spirit of the Kochi Muziris Bi­en­nale in its third edi­tion. With an in­ten­tion to cre­ate mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tives to look at the worlds that are seem­ingly out­side, like po­etry, it is all about in­ter­sec­tion, in­tro­spec­tion and in­ter­ac­tion with artis­tic prac­tices. Spice has cu­rated a list of four spe­cial artists who pre­sented at the Bi­en­nale and ex­em­plify this spirit. From the south­ern out­post of art-soaked Kochi, Spice trav­elled to Philadel­phia, where the city, and more specif­i­cally, the Philadel­phia Mu­seum of Art, in­stalled the new­est avatar of what was once rub­ble in Madu­rai, in Oc­to­ber this year. The fully re­stored Madana Gopala Swamy Tem­ple Hall now stands as a stun­ning cen­tre­piece of the South Asian gal­leries here—the only pre-mod­ern tem­ple man­dap to ex­ist out­side of In­dia. Amer­i­can Ade­line Pep­per Gib­son pur­chased 60 pieces of gran­ite, thought to be rub­ble, by local Madu­rai author­i­ties back in 1912. Gib­son shipped these mag­nif­i­cent carved por­tions that be­longed to the Madu­rai tem­ple com­plex of 1560 back to the United States where a cos­tume pageant, with over 100 Philadel­phi­ans and an or­ches­tra wel­comed “the gods of In­dia to the shores of Amer­ica.” As his­tory found home in Philadel­phia, artist Su­dar­shan Shetty found in­spi­ra­tion in folk to fur­nish his most re­cent work A

Story A Song; a set of films and wooden struc­tures cre­ated in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Rolls Royce Art Pro­gramme. Ap­pro­pri­at­ing a lot of con­ven­tions of Hindi cinema such as mu­sic and melo­drama, he tells and retells the folk­tale through two films which he screens si­mul­ta­ne­ously on two dif­fer­ent screens side by side. If Shetty’s dra­matic art­work caught Spice’s at­ten­tion, we were also im­pressed by haute horol­o­gist Bre­itling’s pas­sion for fly­ing. One of the few re­main­ing in­de­pen­dent watch brands, Bre­itling has played a cru­cial role in the de­vel­op­ment of the chrono­graph, be­ing the first chrono­graph in space when Scott Car­pen­ter or­bited the Earth three times aboard the Aurora 7 capsule, in 1962, with a Nav­itimer on his wrist. Apart from a tour of the Bre­itling man­u­fac­ture in Grenchen, Switzer­land, Spice took in a quick visit to five of the top Swiss board­ing schools. We rounded off our so­journ with a trip down mem­ory lane as the iconic Ford Mus­tang com­pletes 50 years. On the soft bed of lux­ury, in­no­va­tion re­mains the quilted pas­sion that de­fines age­less style and time­less ap­peal. (Aroon Purie)

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