Saturday, April 22, 2017

Amana: the Visual History of Injustice by Chitrakaran Murali

Chitrakaran Murali T

Chitrakaran T Murali does not call himself an Ambedkarite. Nor does he claim any role in Dalit activism in Kerala or elsewhere. But there is something in his paintings that makes him a fellow traveller of various movements that attempt the Dalit Deconstruction and reconstruction of (dominant) history. Using his research interest and his artistic skills, Murali creates his paintings that speaks of a past from which the articulations of the downtrodden have been expunged and to certain extent till date remain almost obscure if not invisible altogether. Murali's artistic life has certain interesting aspects. 

Murali T aka Chitrakaran (artist/painter) is an artist who does self curating his works. His life is a living gallery and the book that he has come out with is a moving museum of sorts though humble in stature. The story of the artist goes like this: Three decades back Murali joined Trivandrum Fine Arts College as a painting graduate student. Due to familial reasons he had to take up a job as a graphic artist in one of the leading dailies. After a couple of years he resumed his education in the college while working at the newspaper desk as an artist at night. In 1990 he got an opportunity to participate in a camp with the leading artists like Sudhir Patwardhan, Bhupen Khakar, Manu Parekh and so on. As a very young artist he was so awestruck by those artists yet he did not feel like following anybody's style. The painting he did in the camp had the image of a mirror in it. Murali had thought that art should be something that reflected the viewer, not the artist himself.

Twenty long years from 1993 to 2013, Murali kept himself away from the art scene. Perhaps he had his reasons to do so. In 2006, Murali started a blog and started posting his works and narrating the historical background that inspired the images in his works. Then Facebook happened; with this like many others this artist too got a good number of followers that inspired him further to explore what he liked most; the expunged history of the Dalits, Women and the downtrodden. As Murali has been writing his notes in Malayalam the history behind his works remained limited though his works gave the hint of his frustration with the mainstream history and his perennial need for articulating his own analysis of it via visual and verbal terms. 

'Amana' is Murali's art book that serves not only as a book of documentation of his works and writings which have appeared in his blog and social media posts but also as a moving gallery and library; the gallery exhibits his works in the pages of the book and the verbal narratives attached to them functions as the library. This portable library-gallery amuses me immensely because I recognise it, despite my disagreements in certain aspects of his aesthetics as well as the literal interpretations of history, as one of the parallel and subaltern streams of art making and proliferating which have to be recognised by art historians, curators and critics in order to avoid succumbing to the suction power of the glamorous mainstream social history and the history of visual art. Recognising the works of Murali is a way of resisting the hegemony of the mainstream art and it is also a way of the plurality of cultures within and under the blanket term of 'culture.'

The title 'Amana' comes from the deciphering of a Tamil-Brahmi script inscribed on a clay artefact excavated at the Muziris-Pattanam ancient port site. The meaning of the word is 'Buddhist or Jain Monk'. Either it came from the word 'Shramana' or this word was Sanskritized from the 'Amana' word. Murali titles his book/gallery/library, 'Amana' because he pitches his interpretations of history in the Buddhist-Hindu binary. According to him Kerala was a Buddhist state/land and after Shankaracharya's conquest of India philosophically, the Buddhists were persecuted in Kerala in a big way. Murali traces the etymology of several words related to religious and social rituals back to this conquest that Hinduism had over the Buddhism. 

According to Murali Shankaracharya's overpowering of the Buddhist scholars in the royal courts in India was not just intellectual but it had a lot to do with diplomatic coercion, physical abuse and even assassination. In order to finish Buddhism, Murali says, Sankaracharya used distorted logic and he demanded the heads of the defeated Buddhists in return. He says Thalappoli ( the practice of women standing in a row with a plate full of flowers, rice and a full coconut as a part of temple rituals) is in fact the reception of the victorious Hindus with the heads of the assassinated Buddhists. He also asks why the 'Mokaambika Devi' is a mute Devi who in fact is the goddess of learning and education. According to Murali the centre piece of the original idol in the Kolloor temple is that of the severed head of a learned Jain nun. Murali paints his findings in symbolic graphic terms and forwards his verbal narrative as a part of it in the book.

In Amana we see not only the interpretation of socio-religious historical issues but also pure social issues based on caste hierarchy. More than hundred years back in Kerala women were not allowed to wear upper garments. Besides in order to curb the upward growth of the downtrodden the rulers used to impose various kinds of taxes on them. One of the most ridiculous taxes was mulakkaram or breast tax. Depending on the size of the breasts women from the lower castes needed to pay taxes. Nangeli, a woman from the lower caste was the first one to rebel against it. When the court officer came to collect the tax, she asked him to wait, she went to the pond, took a dip and came back only to severe her breasts and place them on a plantain leaf before the officer. She died of excessive blood loss. Her husband jumped into her funeral pyre. This incident had forced the king to repeal the breast tax. This historical incident however finds only a minimal mention in the mainstream history. Murali paints three works based on this in three different times.

Similar was the case of Kuriyedathu Thathri. Brahmin women were supposed to marry very old men and were soon widowed. After that their lives were tortious while the menfolk made temporary alliances with Nair women. Thathri was a Brahmin woman. She was accused of illicit relationship and was excommunicated. Before that there was a long trial and to the shock of everyone, Thathri revealed how she had been abused by many men since childhood. She took out the names of 64 men! Murali paints Thathri as a bold woman. Like this the artist interprets each historical anecdote with critical acumen. No surprise that Murali is never celebrated by the media or by the art festivals that take a lot of pride in being 'political'.

Personally speaking, I have certain differences with the ways in which Murali has critiqued certain myths. I have found over reading for ideological purpose in the myths of Parasurama, Shiva and so on. What I stand for is the reconciliation with the past and resting it for eco-humanistic and cosmo-humanistic purposes. History should be interpreted for not repeating the same folly. Therefore I find the interpretations of Murali quite convincing, gripping and at times quite moving. The paintings have a sense of illustration and graphic art. This may be because of the artist's long professional work as an illustrator and graphic artist. This book, Amana should be seen by all, read by all and above all bought by all for this is an alternative voice in art; whether you agree with it or not, you cannot just ignore it and silence it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Reclaiming Durbar Hall for Kerala Artists from Biennale

Durbar Hall Ernakulam
 Durbar Hall, Kochi has assumed a festival mood as it stands clad in decorative flags and specially created festival hangings. Art is a religion with many gods that tolerate each other therefore, the Shiva temple next to the famous hall in a way adds to the devotional sentiments of the surroundings. Two artists namely, Manoj Brahmamangalam and Pramod are at work in creating a decorative installation at the entrance of the hall. The Durbar Hall is getting ready for an exhibition of late KG Subramanyan's works from the collection of Seagull Foundation on Kolkata, jointly presented by the Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi.

Aksharananda with Manoj Brahmamangalam and Pramod

People going to the temple and making the Durbar Hall ground a thorough fare to elsewhere look at the installation arch being created by the artists. They itch to photograph it. People want art and they could relate to the art that they understand. Even if the visitors of Biennale say that Kerala is yet to prepare itself aesthetically to understand international art, people in Kerala know their art. Manoj and Pramod say that even during the Biennale month they had created impressive installations and people had commented (including the foreign tourists) that their installation was better than what they saw at the biennale.

Durbar Hall Ernakulam

However Biennale authorities blinded by the imperialistic ideologies are not ready to entertain or promote Kerala artists. The artists in the biennale trust themselves say that the Kerala artists are yet to use modern technology to use spectacular art. Being the agents of imperialism and capitalism, the anti-nationalist aesthetics of biennale and the promotion of it have been choking the creative streams for the last seven years. It is high time that we all seek a method to put an end to it.

Aksharananda with Manoj Brahmamangalam and Pramod

The first way is to reclaim Durbar hall from the hands of the Biennale Trust. It has created an MOU with the Government of Kerala that during the Biennale year for four months, the Durbar Hall would be given for the use of the Biennale. The best part of the year is thus taken away from the Kerala artists who are denied opportunities to exhibit there in those months. Biennale being monopolistic in all the possible ways, has taken over all the venues in Kochi- Ernakulam by incorporating them as collaterals. So many itinerant gallery spaces have sprung up in the area to present the Biennale supporters' works as collaterals. Ideologically, dumb and foolishly opportunistic, these galleries function as Biennale's 'benamis' during the biennale months.

Durbar Hall Ernakulam

From my extensive interactions with Kerala artists, I have come to feel thus that a majority of the artists do not want to support biennale because if its undemocratic and monopolistic attitudes. As the government is supporting biennale for purely touristic reasons, the artists are hand tied. Artists being a professional group with no organisation to back them up are left literally helpless in Kerala. They are now being bulldozed by the fascist moves of the biennale. Even the Lalitha Kala Akademi is now feeling its hands tied as the best months of the year are given to Biennale. Both the Lalitha Kala Akademi and the artists in Kerala want to reclaim the Durbar Hall back for the use of the artists.

Durbar Hall Ernakulam

Biennale does not show any sense of responsibility towards the Kerala society as it is purely a tourist oriented business venture. Except for the four months once in two years, the biennale authorities are least bothered about the life of the artists and their art of Kerala. These imperialist agents who promote anti- nationalistic art speak a lot about political art but has kept studied silence in all the socio-political issues that have been taking place in the state since 2012. This studied silence is there to placate the religious and caste based politics in Kerala so that the biennale could make hay while the sun shines. Some of the artists who do not want to be identified informed me that they works for money for biennale because all the avenues in culture today work in tandem with biennale authorities and muscle them down to do menial works. Many work for it only because they do not have any source of income.

Durbar Hall Ernakulam

Artists in Kerala are very disturbed about the way Biennale is monopolising cultural spaces and aesthetics. They also feel that the government should realise the folly in supporting the biennale. "Biennale is cultural fascism" says an artist. "But we cannot say /biennale should not take place because the artists are involved there too. We need healthy art environment facilitated by the government so that we could make artistic statements via our works that would be a counter visual narrative against the biennale culture," requesting anonymity he says. Today artists in Kerala are in a mood to reclaim Durbar Hall for themselves.  " The government has given them a lot of money. It has offered them permanent venue also. Now government should give Durbar Hall to artists, and pump in money in all the regional and District art centres so that Kerala's tourism will develop in a  decentralised fashion. We cannot tolerate Biennale's monopoly" says another artist. 

Durbar Hall Ernakulam

The Government should gauge the mood of Kerala's art scene. More than 80% of the artists are not interested in biennale. Even the tourists say that they would like to see Kerala art and culture not he installations that they have seen in their countries. The government should stop funding the Biennale and let it take place as a private initiative. And it should be given only logistic support during the biennale months. The rest of the money should be channelised via Lalitha Kala Akademi and District Tourism Promotion Council and create healthy environment for Kerala artists to flourish. Kerala government  should not support any thing that kills the pride of the state and the national feeling in the name of internationalism. Let the call for reclaiming Durbar Hall for Kerala artists be the first step towards that.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Reclaiming Sree Narayana Guru from Guru Bhakts

Sree Narayana Guru
At Aluva Adwaita Ashram, I stand disappointed. I have been wishing to come here for a long time. In fact for the last few months I have been trailing the footsteps of Guru, visiting places wherever he had gone. Hardly I got the vibe of the spiritual magnanimity in those places that Guru once had held closer to his own spirit, but now fallen into the hands of those people who are hell bent on making Guru a God. They have almost forgotten the distinction between the notions of Guru and God. To certain extent these notions are interchangeable. However, the moment one it replaced by the other, things could go astray. That seems to be exactly the case with Sree Narayana Guru today.

Aluva Adwaita Ashram 
Aluva Adwaita Ashram was established by Guru in 1913 -14 with a clear intention to impart Sanskrit knowledge to the children who came from poor conditions. Guru chose the teaching of Adwaita via the language of Sanskrit for two clear reasons, that anybody from his time could easily understand. First of all, the wisdom of Adwaita was restricted by the Brahmin class in order to protect the 'so called ' purity of it. Guru saw the irony of it. If a philosophy that proclaimed 'Abheda' (no difference) between beings and God, and one another, how could it be denied to a set of people in the name of caste hierarchy. Guru himself was initiated to Sanskrit education in childhood by his father and later by a Sanskrit scholar. Secondly, Guru wanted to challenge the caste hierarchy of his time ( late 19th and early 20th century) by setting up Sanskrit education centres, only to remind the society that it had once poured molten lead into the ears of those lower caste people who even happened to listen to Sanskrit verses being recited. Guru lived in such a caste ridden society and despite having achieved the status of a Jeevan Muktha, the one who had gained deliverance even while living not really in Samadhi, the final state, Guru wanted to 'act' upon the existing social hierarchies. Sanskrit was a great and symbolic linguistic tool for him. Today when we see a Prime Minister hailing from a lower caste propagating Sanskrit and yoga, two integral parts of Adwaita philosophy, we could say that what Guru had started a century back as a social revolution has now been institutionalised with state patronage and the Prime Minister of the country leading the propagation of it from the forefront. Whatever accusations that one could make against this, it would be a great failure from their side if they do not recognise the fact that even the caste based political parties had not taken this exclusive and forbidden tool of language of power and authority with the vehemence that the present regime has taken. Had Sanskrit been a language that perpetuated hierarchies, in a lopsided way, Guru wouldn't have chosen this language as a tool of power for the downtrodden classes.

Aluva Adwaita Ashram 
In Sivagiri, Varkala, Sanskrit is practiced and in Aluva, I do not find any trace of Sanskrit being taught. Right behind the Adwaita Ashram premises, the Aluva river/ Periyar flows calmly. At a distance one could see a ghat where during the auspicious days, people come out to make offerings to the souls of their departed dears. The Shivaratri festivals here are very famous. Down the river, the village Kaladi, the place of Adi Shankaracharya is located. Also one could reach the Kaladi Sanskrit University, which carries Adi Shankaracharya's name in it. Guru's choice of the place was not only pragmatic but symbolic as well. He literally bought the place (while the other locations where Guru treaded and stayed were often donated by village lords who either became his disciples or were impressed by his spiritual as well as social aura) and made an invisible bridge to the life of Shankara, who even had desired the dominance of Vedic ritualism towards the end of his life. Shankara also accepted finally that knowledge and wisdom are not limited by the gross body marked by caste or class. Guru created an invisible bridge to this Shankara by the language of Sanskrit.

Aluva Adwaita Ashram 
Unfortunately, the people in Kerala seem to have transported Guru into another godhead and have heaped ritualistic sheens over him, almost wiping out his philosophical as well as sociological teachings. Like in any of the place of Guru, in Aluva too, one could see these teaching and maxims fro Guru's literary oeuvre pasted on placards, hanging from the trees. People seem to be least interested. They are more keen toward, the free food served at the dining hall. May people think that eating from such places would bring them godly blessings. In my opinion, those people could afford to buy their own for from restaurants should desist eating from community kitchens and let the poor and destitute eat from there. I am told that the main building, which is renovated and built in a fashion that remotely resembles Sivagiri but without its grace, is a temple where Guru is worshipped. The temple closes at 12 noon and reopens only at 5 in the evening. I go near the closed glass door and see the statue of Guru at the far end in a hall and a hall meant for silent meditation. But I believe silent meditation is the last thing here because there is a list of rituals and pujas on the board which people could pay for. One young man with too many sandal paste marks on his body sits inside the counter reminding me of all what Guru had stood against.

Aluva Adwaita Ashram 
I had seen this in Sivagiri too. Every place with Guru's touch has been changed into a place worship. Guru himself is worshipped in these places. The irony that Guru played out in his life as a spiritual as well as a social leader is hardly understood by people today. Guru established  temples in order to challenge the Brahminical hegemony in consecrating idols and setting up temples. Guru had clearly articulated the rationale behind his temple establishments. He said that temples would lead to cleanliness and education. It would elevate people to social and customary sophistication. Critics say that Guru freefully destroyed native thickets (Kaavu) where primitive pagan gods were worshipped by people of his caste and lower than that, thereby paving the way for Brahminical ritualism and its ideological proliferation.  But Guru had an absolutely different view on these issues. He considered such worshipping of the pagan gds would keep them in the permanent darkness of ignorance, and superstition. He wanted this situation to be changed and wanted people move towards the light of education via the imitable model of Sanskrit education or education in general. It was something akin to the attitude of the Indian nationalists who went ahead to gain english education in order to counter the socio-political, economical and cultural domination of the British in their own language.

Aluva Adwaita Ashram 
Guru had declared his universal existence as a spiritual being. But he never said he was a god to be worshipped. He never insisted that people should follow Sanskrit ritualism in their god worship. Guru with his deep understanding of Malayalam and Tamil wrote prayers, moral poetry and poetry that exalted gods in local language in order to be used in the daily worship in households. This was exactly what his contemporary Ramana Maharishi had done in Thiruvannamalai. But today in the places of both these Gurus we could see Sanskrit / Vedic ritualism taken predominance. Ironically in the case of Sree Narayana Guru, people have now resorted to such pagan practices of making offerings to Guru and seeking blessings for marriage, job, social success, economic crises and so on. Guru was never a miracle worker. What one sees today in the worship of Guru is the action replay of what he had destroyed once the native thickets via breaking the pagan idols.

Aluva Adwaita Ashram 
In Bhakti Guru could be God and God in turn could be Guru. Nobody could stop people from such ways of worshipping. But that would never help Guru's spiritual teachings for social as well as spiritual refinement and sublimation of the human beings in general. With various interests including political and social sanctions, acting upon the idea of Sree Narayana Guru it has become all the more difficult to extract the pristine philosophical and spiritual Guru from the ritualistic din. But that has to be done.
Sree Narayana Guru
Extracting Guru from the ritualistic cacophony and taking him to a field of silent contemplation is all the more necessary today because Guru's philosophy transcends times and is relevant today unprecedentedly. In a world that is seriously going through individual isolationism through technology and many people falling into the pits of depression due to lack of real anchor, Guru's philosophy stands as a refuge and solace as well. He had said the world is one despite the different religions. Man has only one religion that's humanity, he said. He also said that whatever one does for one's own satisfaction should be equally soothing for others. Guru is a leader who walked from inside to outside which many of his contemporaries did in reverse process. Guru practiced Gita in its purest spirit. He developed detachment from the results of his actions. He was a Karmayogi with Bhakti and Gyana as support. He remained in Ananda because he was unaffected by the organisational misdeeds that happened in his name. Perhaps, today to such vehement vandalism is done one guru by Guru's worshippers themselves. But it should be the mission of those people who see Guru as a spiritual guide and philosopher who did choose a karmic and gyaan path to lead humanity from its condemned fate of self-delusion to a bright world of justice, equanimity, peace and joy. It is time to retrieve that Guru. And the bargain should be quite enriching.

(Images courtesy Aksharananda and Internet)

Monday, April 17, 2017

How I begged in a Metro station

That was a weekend. I do not remember exactly which day it was. Metro was not crowded. I was to meet someone at a restaurant in Delhi. I generally walk from the metro station to my destination. That day I was in a hurry for the other party was already at the place of our meeting. I do not prefer auto rickshaws. If possible I take a bus. Suddenly I remembered I did not have any change monet in my purse. I did not have smaller denominations of currency either. I had a few hundred rupee notes, a five hundred and a debit card. But I knew none of it would come to use at that given time for what I wanted as five rupees. That was the ticket charge in the bus.

I was still inside the metro station. I stood there thinking. I was in my saffron outfit but worn above a pair of jeans. I checked every nook and cranny of my purse. Lucky I was that I could gather three coins and together they made four rupees, still one rupee short for my bus ticket. I thought of dealing with the bus conductor. But I knew that they 'forget' to give the passengers their balance but never forfeited even one rupee if the passenger was lacking on. What to do? Ask someone. Thats what we generally do when we are in a place. Oh yes, when you are looking for a place, direction, address, person or anything like that it is very easy to ask anybody. But just think of asking some money from strangers. It is not that easy.

Ego and the idea of self worth, which are all false notions, are what stop us from asking some monetary help from strangers. We take loans from the familiar people, for it is a transaction based on trust and familiarity. It has various concerns including emotions to support it. but asking money from strangers that too in a station is very difficult because of our ego. I decide to ask from someone.  No one was around there. I stayed there for a few minutes thinking and by that time the station had emptied out.

Suddenly I saw a girl approaching. I thought of asking her. However, I did not do so, because, the 'whole incident' maybe misinterpreted by the girl for I do not fit the bill of a beggar and my approach could be mistaken. Besides, she is completely engrossed in her mobile phone, may not even have registered what I had asked for.  To avoid a scene I just wait for her to pass. Then I saw a young policeman washing his face at a tap near the corridor. I approached him and asked for a rupee. He looked at me. He did not understand what I asked. Showing the rest of the coins in my palm I asked for one rupee again. I could see disbelief in his face. He asked me to follow him. He took me to a security guard's room where I saw another young constable. The one who I had approached searched his bag and brought out a ten rupee note and gave it to me. I said that I need only one rupee. He insisted that I should take ten rupees from him. By the time the other young man had found an one rupee coin in his wallet. He gave that to me. I took it thanking him profusely.

The other boy was still insisting. He said " Baba, take this" I smiled at him and thanked him for his generous heart. And then I began to explain my side of the story. I wanted only one rupee for the bus. He was not ready to believe it.  "Baba, aap lo, karma aye" ( It will come of use). Please take it". I thanked him again. I was talking to him in hindi and I had to switch to English ( the language of the affluent!) to convince him. He was not ready to let me go without that money. I had to take out my purse and show hi that I had money but what I needed was five rupees for the bus.

Walking to the bus stop I thought of the generosity of the young man. And also I realised hoe difficult it was to ask and how much more difficult to refuse what was being given. I was overwhelmed by those young mens' gesture of help. Now you must be thinking why I spoke in English and showed my purse to him? Was it not my ego? WhyWhy shouldn't I have taken the ten rupees and gone? I had also thought about it. But I have only one answer to it. I should beg only for what I need. I should not beg for accumulating or for satisfying my desires.

If I am hungry, I could ask for food but I should not ask for a packet of food for the dinner also. The ten rupee note the boy was giving me was not meant for me. What I needed was one rupee, nothing more nothing less. Asking for what you need is the real begging. Begging cannot be a profession.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Treading softly at Khasakk : Translating Khasakk into Visual Art - IV

OV Vijayan
The day I read 'Khasakkinthe Ithihaasam' (The Legend of Khasakk), years back when I was a student in high school, I reserved a permanent place for OV Vijayan in my mind. What impressed me was not the author's autobiographical presence or the philosophical skepticism that he had displayed throughout in the novel. Perhaps I was not mature enough to know those nuance at that point of time. But I was impressed by the expanses of landscapes of Palakkad that Vijayan had painted through his crystal clear words that refracted romanticism and sexual desire alike. Vijayan's literary genius worked like an alchemical process in the reader's through the summer soaked land into a golden oasis of dreams, souls and a variety of human dramas.

Book Cover - Khasakkinthe Itihaasam
I never had any interest in travelling when I was in school. I even detested the idea of going from one place to another without being accompanied by friends or family members. I was a happy person of one place, even a limited space. A small room, a table lamp and a diary - these were enough for me to create a world of my own. Besides as a good reader of literature, I could navigate the world from that small room I had for myself in my father's house. The window that opened to the eastern side of the land brought in pleasant visuals, smells, sounds and light. It was not necessary to venture out to learn anything. Everything was there just outside the window. For the first time in my life I felt getting out of that room and going to that place called Khasakk which led inconspicuously at the valley of Chetali Mala (Chetali hills),

Noted literary critic of our times, late Prof. M Krishnan Nair once said that the readers should never meet their beloved writers. He said that because he knew that most of the literary geniuses had the feet of clay and meeting them in contexts where they lamented on the mundanity of daily lives would have put any ardent admirer into utter despair and depression. Whenever I thought of visiting Khasakk and its archetype Thassarack,  in Palakkad,  I remembered Krishnan Nair's words. I was afraid of going there for the simple and plain fear that I would be disappointed to see the actual place which had transformed into a mythical place through alchemy of the writer. Whenever I passed by Palakkad, by train my heart skipped a beat. Whenever I saw the rows of palm trees standing as silhouetted cutouts against expanses of a thin bluish sky, where a full moon shone enticingly, almost giving me visions of the flying ogresses, I thought of Khasakk and the magician who had created it. During my return journey when train touched the station, Kanchikod the first station in north of Palakkad,  (which always happened around seven o'clock in the morning), I thought only of Vijayan and Khasakk. But I never dared to go there, even if I had been to Palakkad after that on couple of occasions. Finally it happened when the Lalitha Kala Akademi invited me for a series of programs in Palakkad and elsewhere. When the artists, the OV Vijayan Memorial and the LKA together announced the dedication of these worlds to the village and Kerala in general, on 30th March, I had missed it. I never knew the occasion to visit the place and the works would come too soon to believe.

Thassarack is in Kinasseri Panchayat. I travel by the LKA Secretary's car. Mani, a young man who knows each and every artist in Kerala and their style of working is the driver. Upon seeing the state's registration plate on the car people look into it curiously only to see me sitting there. Anybody who travels by a state car achieves importance and loses it the moment one gets out of it. It is all about the state, its power and the reverence that the people have for it.

Compound wall of the property
There is the arch gate right in front of me. It was on this gate that Mohan Kumar IAS wanted the artists to make granite reliefs. Now the surface of it is covered by an ugly flex with certain illustrations on it. Definitely this is not what one expects from the gate of Thassarack. Mani, the LKA driver, who has become a friend by now tells me that it was a quick fix arrangement mad for 30th March. We cross the ugly gate and travel by a canal and we take a left. The famous Palakkadan wind comes into the car and with it the spirits of Vijayan's world. I anticipate the village with an anxious heart.
With OV Vijayan at Njattupura

At the entrance of the compound where the Njattupura and the memorial building stand, there is an arch with the relief sculptures of palm trees with snakes, flanking the iron gate that opens towards the inside. Seeing a white ambassador car the neighbours come out. An elderly man ambles in to the compound and opening the door of the memorial hall. My attention primarily falls on the Njattupura. It is here once Vijayan lived and conceived the novel that lived Malayalam literature before-After Khasakk. but I postpone stepping inside for the fear of losing the romance of it.  So I decide to see the sculptures first. The landscape is carefully done with pruned lawns, granite pavements and granite pillars serving the purpose of a running fence. At the front side, along the fence certain agricultural implements are displayed in order to underline the Njattupura relevance in the agricultural economy of the yesteryears. The sculptures are in relief forms. The artists have chosen the imageries from the  novel that had struck them directly. With or without the title a person comes from the Malayali cultural ethos would understand the condensed narratives in the sculptures. The spatial design is done considering the limited space available, yet the feel is of a huge sculpture garden. One gets the feeling that more and more people are going to visit this place now not only because of Khasakk, but also because of the sculpture; together they have created a new magic in the village.

Inside Njattupura with OV Vijayan
The Vijayan Memorial Hall is hastily done it seems. Though there is an auditorium space inside with huge windows on the three  walls, like any other government architecture much of futuristic thinking has not gone into the making of it. Fourteen paintings created by contemporary artists in Kerala are displayed there. Though the LKA has initiated the camp, the works are going to be the property of the Memorial and are to be permanently displayed there. Njattupura has been beckoning me all this while. Finally I walk into that. I remove my footwear at the step and get into the narrow verandah. On the either end of it there are Vijayan's huge portraits clicked by KR Vinayan. The small centre hall of the Njattupura is now converted into an audio visual room with a ten seat capacity and air conditioning. Vijayan related visual materials are to be shown here. On the left side of the hut there is an L-shaped narrow room where many portraits of Vijayan by the same photographer are displayed.  I think the name of the photographer etched on each photograph is unnecessary if not obscene. On the right side in a similar L-shaped narrow room, a few digital prints of Vijayan's cartoons are displayed. The hastiness of arranging all these is palpable. I go and sit down on the floor at the feet of OV Vijayan. Majeed Bhai who acts as a local guide tells me that it was exactly the way Vijayan used to sit there. Even if if is Majeed bhai's imagination speaking, I find it a blessing via him. I am very satisfied.
Thassarack and OV Vijayan Memorial need a bit more attention and a full scale state patronage. Kerala state shell bent on promoting Tourism in state. The state has invested a fortune in the private initiative, Kochi Muziris Biennale only because it brings tourism revenue to the state. But it is high time to rethink the strategy. While Kerala has a potential to attract tourists to any part of it, thanks to its scenic as well as cultural beauty, why the focal point should be only Fort Kochi, where the KMB has set up its show? If the government wants to decentralise its economy, then why should it focus only on Fort Kochi? My suggestion here is this that the government of Kerala should invest its money, energy and vision in Kerala, a culture rich state by decentralising the art activities in each district. This happens not just by making District Tourism Promotion Councils or Galleries in each district. This would be possible only when the state takes its attention off of the art spectacle like biennale that side steps Kerala artists and invests its energies in creating a wonderful environment in which artists would flourish in each district and in turn attract tourists who genuinely want to see something like Kerala art. Tourists do not travel to eat pizzas and McDonalds or KFC in Kerala as they are available in their countries too. Real tourists travel to experience what is exotic to them. Seriously speaking the foreign tourists do not come to see Biennale art as they see similar things in their own country. They should be travelling all over Kerala to experience the rich visual culture of the state. Whats going on today in the name of Biennale is fooling the locals as well as the tourists. For sustainable tourism development government of Kerala should think about decentralising its patronage for art and Thassarack is a good beginning. Let Biennale happen with its own funding and  let Kerala art flourish with the state funding without aesthetical or moral interventions.

(Images courtesy : Internet and Johnyml /Aksharananda)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sculptors at Thassarack - Translating Khasakk into Visual Art - III

In Vijayan's works, dinosaurs evoke the time immemorial. They are not discussed or described as a part of the fictional narrative of the novel 'Khasakk' but the mere mentioning of them by the author takes the reader to a time beyond Vedas and Upanishads. Vijayan has a time frame even beyond that; it is in this time the two atomised poses, the elder and the younger sisters go out for a stroll. What did the primitive humans do when they wanted to express their difference as well as closeness from / with God? Most say they drew the images on the walls of the caves formed out of rocks. But the sculptors in Thassarack do not seem to be amused by this view. At least in the case of Khasakk depictions, it was sculpture that came first says, Hochimin PH, an artist based in Kochi, who had started off as a painter but today finds is passion and affinity for granite sculptures.

In Thassarack which is the setting for the legendary novel 'Khasakk', today a Vijayan- Pilgrim  could see a series of sculptures carved out of granite. There sculptures mostly square reliefs with a single or composite imagers are displayed aesthetically along a fence created out of granite pillars that demarcate the 'Njattupura' and the present day OV Vijayan Memorial building from the neighbouring plot. The images are familiar for an avid reader of Vijayan and one cannot see these works without a fond smile on the lips.

Four artists who made these sculptures possible are namely Hochimin PH, Johns Mathew, Joseph M Verghese, and VK Rajan. The project was dedicated to the cultural scape of Kerala and also to the people of Thassarack in a function held there at the venue on 30th March 2017. This project is not ambitious about its scope is not moderate either. A visitor overwhelmed as well humbled by the memories of Vijayan would definitely be enamoured by the sculptures displayed along a clearly paved way with neatly cut lawn on either side. What makes one feel so close to the artists, the images that they have picked up from  Vijayan's novels and the author himself is the setting against which the   works are seen. One cannot miss the coconut and palm trees lining the field beyond and the sharp sunlight that gives new dimensions to the landscape. The sculptures seem to have developed a soul relationship with the setting.

This sculpture project started in 2013. The inspiration for making granite relied sculptures came when these four artists participated in a granite sculpture camp held at  Palakkad sometime in 2011. The district collector was Mohankumar IAS and he wanted the sculptors to make some relief sculptures for the Arch Gate that the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) had created at the entrance of Thassarack. The Arch was done in concrete and the collector thought granite sculptures on it would create all the difference. The very conception of the sculptures that we see today was done in a square relief format meant to be seen from a lower plane. Later that plan fell apart. Though the DTPC decide to go ahead with the project.

What was once meant for the Arch Gate, now brought down to be seen from the eye level, however, did not put the four sculptors off.  They like any other artist in Kerala loved Vijayan's masterpiece novel. Despite a lag they resumed their work in a compound where today the Vijayan Memorial Building stands. "Njattupura had a pristine look then" remembers Hochimin. " And there was no memorial building there. The compound was open. The heat was unbearable and the local population was hostile." Once upon a time when Ravi, the protagonist sighted from the bus there at Koomankaavu, he did not feel that place was strange. He knew he had been here at some point, maybe in some other life. Like Ravi these four artists also did not find the place strange because more than Ravi they knew the place by reading him several times.

However, what they found strange was the attitude of the people. They simply did not like the sculptors. Slowly and steadily, while braving the hardness of granite and the parching heat of Palakkad, the sculptors realised that the hostility came from their apparent misunderstanding of Vijayan;s novel. They were still hurting from the fact that Vijayan found living characters from the village during his sojourn in Thassarack and turned them  into 'immoral' characters. While the rest of Kerala celebrated Vijayan's novel and the immortality of the characters in it, the archetypes of the characters were fuming with rage. They thought Vijayan portrayed one of them in a vulgar light. That character was nobody other than Maimuna.

Maimuna took her life, her sexuality, her desire, her body, her thoughts, everything in her hands, or at least Vijayan portrayed her so. In Thassarack, with s dominant Muslim community, that lacked literacy while rest of Kerala marched  towards attaining 100% literacy, Vijayan was being misunderstood through misinterpretations by the community elders who too were misled by those people who had misread it initially. With this the women in the village developed hatred for Vijayan's novel. They thought after reading this novel the readers thought bad about the women in Thassarack. The men hated the novel and the novelist for portraying their women self-willed and desiring beings. Both men and women in the village showed their clear and pronounced dislike for those Vijayan Pilgrims who came occasionally to Thassarack to see the setting of their master writer. this was the same ire that the sculptors also had to face.

The sculptures that welcome the visitor in Thassarack, are displayed around the legendary Njattupura. The small gate that was the only entrance to Njattupura is now replaced with a huge gate where the sculptors have created a pair of palm trees in granite to flank the door. A snake that just goes inside comes out of a hole in the bark gives an eerie feeling and are also capable of transporting the viewer to the time and space of Khasakk. The names of the artists or the titled of the works are not given at  present though the authorities have assured it to be done soon. However, as Khasakk has become mythical the images extracted by the sculptors are familiar to even the common populace, as they know the novel even if they do not know the sculptors and their ways of working.

By touching immortal subjects, the artists too become immortal provided they do it with all their aesthetic verve. I should say all these four artists namely Hochimin PH, Johns Mathew, Joseph M Verghese and VK Rajan have earned immortality along with Vijayan, his novel and the characters in it. The immortality part is assured to the artists for two reasons because the works are done in one of the most permanent mediums. Two, so long as Vijayan is kept alive by his literature, Thassarack will be visited by people. Three, so long as people visit this place, the  works done in the enduring medium would generate interest in them. Here I should also add that even if the works have been executed differently by each artist, they could be taken as a whole, as if they were done by a guild though there is no guild per se, in this case. Stylistically, they are not too different as the thought process and meditation went behind it are one and the same. Besides, there is a limitation of the medium and manipulating using human skill and minimum assistance.

Hochimin, Johns Mathew, Joseph M Verghese, and VK Rajan became full time pursuers of granite after the Palakkad camp (VK Rajan was already known as a sculptor). In 2012, they joined another Lalitha Kala Akademi granite sculpture camp directed by KS Radhakrishnan. Gaining a lot of experience from this camp, they moved to Wynad to do another project in granite for a private agency and in 2013, they embarked upon their journey on translating Vijayan into granite. For me the whole project looks like a temple not project, for Vijayan's Thassarack as a whole is a temple for the lovers of his literature. "Vijayan is untranslatable" says Hochimin, " especially in Granite" he adds. As sculptors, they are still not completely happy for they think they could have done more had time and money facilitated them.

Even if the artists are creatively completely not satisfied with the project they have facilitated a strange alchemy in the people of Thassarack. The hostility has now been vanquished. The villagers are now friendly. Hochimin says that when they went to give the finishing touches to the works in 2017 March, they found a completely converted village folk. They were very welcoming. They seem to have taken pains to read Vijayan for themselves. "Now they do not have any problem with Vijayan and his work based on their village" Hochimin says. He also finds that a new myth has been created by the village folks about Vijayan. "Now everyone has a Vijayan story to tell, even if their age does not match with the time Vijayan had spent here".

The palpable difference is mainly because of the changes that the DTPC has brought in the village. With the support of the government they have created the memorial hall and have taken special care to conserve Njattupura. In short the project has generated tourism possibilities. The villagers are quick enough to see the  change and are getting ready for a touristic revolution the area. Their changed attitude towards the artists also should be seen along  with the economic changed that such art projects would bring to their society. They also have gone a mile ahead by publicly felicitating the woman who is the archetype for Vijayan's  'Maimuna'.

The sculptures could be seen, touched, felt, photographed and adored because like literature that has caused these works, they too are accessible to the people. The local people now frequent the place. Besides, whenever a car stops in front of the gate, in a typical village fashion, many people come out of their home to see the visitors. I could see pride on their faces. The sculptures are democratic and they could be seen against the palm fronds, vast landscapes and at the same time against the washed clothes of men and women drying on the lines.

Thassarack / Khasakk with this sculpture project would attract both the literary pilgrims as well as art lovers. What we need to strive for is to make it more popular by conducting seminars, programs and exhibitions in the venue. Besides, there should be aggressive promotion of it among the domestic and international tourists. That needs political as well as organisational will. Will Kerala develop these qualities sooner than later?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Painters at Thassarack - Translating Khasakk into Visual Art - II

Work by Shaji Appukkuttan

OV Vijayan himself was an artist; a cartoonist. His cartoons have gained a distinct position in the history of cartooning in India for their philosophical bend. Expressionist in nature, in these cartoons, Vijayan portrayed the political realities of his time, analysing and making dispassionate comments on them against the backdrop of India's philosophical tolerance inculcated and proliferated in the society  via various religious renderings including epics, legends and folklore. While most of his contemporaries moved in the path of homocentricism, Vijayan was a loner in the seemingly isolated paths of cosmocentricism that include both biocentricism and eco-centricism. One of the well known critics in Malayalam Dr M Leelavathy was the first to articulate this view vis-a-vis the literary output of Vijayan.

In the first part of this series I have explained how Vijayan becomes a difficult subject to portray. In his cartoons he does not create a subjective witness or a surrogate character who could witness for the artist himself, the way other cartoonists generally do. Instead Vijayan creates 'characterless' 'non-typified' archetypal characters as hapless participants and witnesses. They are so fragile and subject to the historical dynamics that they could be dismembered and deconstructed all by the artist himself dispassionately. Interestingly, like Krishna, the divine character in Indian mythological as well as philosophical discourses, Vijayan too takes an impartial stance and witnesses the self-annihilation of the human beings by their own deeds.

No wonder, the Krishna imagery comes repeatedly in Vijayan's literary works as well as in the cartoons. So we have an enigmatic subject that needs elucidation via adequate visuals culled from his own dispersed self seen scattered within his works. This is the real challenge before a painter or a sculptor when he embarks upon a journey of visualising Vijayan and his works. Each of these dispersed selves of the legendary author seem to contain the totality of the authorial self but the moment the artist tries to grasp it in visual terms, he finds another 'atomised' self seen manifested in another character who looks more meaningful and pivotal. Vijayan seems to repeat the philosophical mantra 'net-netu' (Not this, Not this) for the artist. It is almost like a children's game, 'Catch me if you can'. And artists from Kerala just get involved in this game  with the author of Khasakk. That's what we see in the works/ paintings created by fifteen artists who had been invested to interpret Vijayan's literary oeuvre visually in a week long artists camp held at Thassarack by the Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi.

Recently when I was listening to one of the discourses by late Swami Nirmalananda Giri, I fondly nodded my head in agreement with him when he said that the claim of Hinduism having thirty three crore gods and goddesses was nothing by the inclusivity of the religion called Hinduism. According to Nirmalananda Giri thirty three crores of gods and goddess were not a conclusive and an overdetermined figure; on the contrary this figure could have been a pointing at the possible number of the people in the world at that time. According to Nirmalananda Giri, had that projection been done today it would have been many billion as per the Indian as well as world population. That means each person in this world has a personal god. In that sense each artist has a Vijayan for himself even if they pick up isolated particles of the scattered self of the author from his literary works.

Work by Balamurali
Shaji Appukkuttan attempts what Vijayan himself wouldn't have dared to do: portraying Vijayan as a character. There have been many photographs on Vijayan and also there have been many illustration about his  personal look. There is a large body of Vijayan's hagiographic imagers taken by K R Vijayan, in Thassarack Vijayan Memorial itself. But all those remain as Vijayan's physical representations in the minimum and glimpses of his latent saintliness in the maximum. In Shaji Appukkuttan's work, Vijayan appears as a saintly figure holding 'Bhagavatam' (once again Krishna connection ) under his arm. We know it isVijayan only because it is seen in the context of Khasakk / Thassarack. But seen out of it, this world could be the portraiture of any saint for all saints are one and one saint is all. However seen in context, this portrait aims to condense all what Vijayan embodied during his life time and after (through his works). Vijayan, as a living cultural saint, whose sainthood was not recognised during his life time for he was not a conformist with the mainstream ideas. Shaji's Vijayan/ Saint stands against the foliage sprouting from heavens and that could be the representation of the banyan tree that travels through time, speaking to Sukanya, the protagonist.

Balamurali approaches the 'Vijayan self' from another angle. Right in the middle of the materialistic din there is this pair of people, the guru and the disciple. Guru is in his benevolent self asking the guy who has submitted himself to the love and compassion of this towering man, to get up. This moment, apparently from Vijayan's 'Gurusagaram' is depicted here as the 'deliverance' of  Vijayan himself from all his doubts. Since the writing of the novel after meeting his Guru, Vijayan had reconciled to all the conflicts and had stood for the cosmocentric world. The idea of 'waking up' as presented by Balamurali should be seen as the wake up call for one and all.

Thassarack /  Khasakk is the setting of Vijayan's first novel ' Khasakkinthe Ithihaasam'. Though that is the case, Khasakk /  Thassarack remains the intellectual / emotional setting of all his novels. Even if the story happens in a conflict ridden Delhi, ( Pravachakante Vazhi), the reader sees Kunjunni, the protagonist walking through the immense landscape of  Thassarack /  Khasakk where the souls fly around as dragon fires carrying the memories of dinosaurs. That is the reason why the artists cannot yet move away from Vijayan's landscape ; that too is the essence of his self and it becomes the self of the  artists who attempt to portray Vijayan's literature in visual terms.

'Njattupura' the small house of a farmer which was rented out to Vijayan's sister is mid 1950s, as she had gone there as a teacher in the village school and from where Vijayan had confronted his ideological and existential issues, has now become a mythical house which has a real manifestation in Thassarack. Against the fields where tall palm trees stand like the castles of the mighty beings and the invisible harbingers of death and ill-omen, this clay house with tiled roof stands alluring the visitors back to those days when Vijayan himself had sat there looking into the space counting the starlets.

Work by Sajeesh PK
Sajeesh PK recreates the Njattupura on his canvas, modelling the same on the real Njattupura. The artist, ins sincere desire to capture the feel of the house as depicted in the novel has taken his own freedom to re-render it the way he has 'felt' it while reading the novel. Hence in Sajeesh's work, we have a Njattupura which is real and unreal at the same time. When it comes to Sunil Vallarpadam, he leaves the Njattupura aside and goes to the bus stop / village setting where the protagonist of the novel, Ravi alights from the bus. This place is called 'Koomankaavu'. This magical place leads Ravi to Khasakk. In Ravi's vision, Khasakk takes a different form and shape and meaning. Fantasy and the apparent reality mix themselves up to create a philosophical concoction that would lead him to the self realisation. Sunil Vallarpadam with his feverish brush strokes captures the essence of Koomankaavu.

Work by Sunil Vallarpadam
Sexual desire plays an important role in Khasakk. Ravi himself has gone through both sacred and profane love affairs and sexual relationships. However by the time he comes to Khasakk, he no longer desires any woman. The village beauty, 'Maimuna' becomes a subject of study for him. He even feels fatherly affection for Kunjamina, another innocent character. There is a very potent relationship existing between 'Naijamali' and 'Maimuna' which is accepted and objected by the village alike. In the dream of the lovers, Arabic horses come and carry them off to distant lands. But there is always the boundaries of religion and social ethics that prevent the dreams turning into reality. In this drama of love, Naijamali and Maimuna enthralling the readers the way they enthralling Ravi.

Work by Sunilal TR
In Sunilal TR, we see a Naijamali, let me add, in an unprecedented fashion. Here is a guy who is a dandy in the village sense. He is like a king in a playing card. He is not the 'Naijamali' that Vijayan had in his mind. Here is a Naijamali conjured up by Sunilal TR from his perspective and 'this' Naijamali does disappoint the viewer. Had Vijayan seen it he would have given a compassionate smile to him for showing a self that he thought never existed in him.

Work by Maupassant Valath

Work by Thakbacker

Venu KB extracts Maimuna from the narrative and makes her the witness of all what is going on around her. That space is not just occupied by Vijayan/ Ravi. In Venu's work, what we see is a sort of thwarting the authorial male and giving that space to the woman protagonist. It is not from the dream of Ravi/  Vijayan that she sees her dream, but Maimuna dreams and in it come up other characters including the author. In their own ways, two artists, namely Tajbacker and Maupassant Valath have attempted to bring out a feminine Khasakk. As we know that there was no woman artist in the camp, these feminine interpretations become all the more important and ironically would serve as a plank to start a counter debate by the feminist women artists of Kerala.

Work by Venu KB

Work by Akhil Mohan
Akhil Mohan's work comes from two strong verbal imageries that Vijayan had created in Khasakk. He writes about the wind passing through the palm fronds. The other imagery is the flock of dragonflies that fly up. They re the souls of people who had existed here on the earth. Similar imagery could be seen in the novels of M Mukundan too. Akhil Mohan picks up these two imageries and combines them into a single pictorial format. This work demands at least a cursory familiarity with the novel to connect as the work does not show any narrative to be read out.

Work by Sajeesh K
Appukkili is the living soul of Khasakk. A soul does not have beginning or end. Neither does it manifest through sensory perceptions. It is a state where the seer-seen-seeing become one and the same. In the soul no dualities exist. Appukkili being the soul with a distorted body (like Ashtavakra who learnt the vedas from his mother's womb therefore cursed  into deformity), does not differentiate between  crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion. He exists as the soul of Khasakk. Sajeesh K portrays Appukkili as a theatrical character who exists on a platform that lies between two time periods: the present and the past. The artist suggests that Appukkili does not exist in time. If anybody is omniscient, omnipresent and immortal in Khasakk, it is Appukkili as we see in Sajeesh's work.

Work by Pramod Kurumpala
In Indian mythology, the peacock is the mount of Lord Muruga, who is the commander of all the heavenly armies. At the same time he is the one who gave wisdom to his own father Lord Shiva. Considering the vehicle / mount of the Indian Gods and goddesses, we could see them representing the biological cycle. Peacock is the representation of divine sexuality. In the western view, it is the embodiment of vanity. But in Khasakk, Maimuna speckled by a peacock. It is the expression of a covert sexual desire latent in Khasakk as a village, not in Ravi or Naijamali alone.  Pramod Kurumpala looks at such imageries created by Vijayan in his other literary works and sees it as a cosmic cycle, without really representing Khasakk as a land. Another artist Prakasan KR too uses this 'peacock' imagery to give an eternal edge to the land of Khasakk.

Work by Prakasan KR
Hareendran Chelad and Sajith Puthukkalavattom are two artists who have looked beyond Khasakk along with Balamurali and Pramod Kurumpala.  Hareendran, like Balamurali creates a world of chaos in his pictorial frame and then paints machines taking away all the biological forms to somewhere else. In Vijayan, towards the end of his literary career we see the cosmic centrism where life form exists beyond earth as the machines made by men and the machines that made the men become the rules of the earth. So here Hareendran creates a spiritual as well as virtual exodus from one existence to a subliminal existence.
Work by Hareendran Chelad
Sajith Puthukkalavattom picks up one of the very poignant stories that Vijayan had written. Titled, 'Kadal theerathu' on the seashore, in this story, Vijayan narrates the story of Vellayiyappan an old father whose son is about to be hanged in jail. From Palakkad, Vellaiyiyappan goes to the jail with a packet of home made food/rice. But the jail officials do not allow him to feed his son. Outside the high walls of the jail waits for the appointed time. Once that is finished, Vellayiyappan walks to the sea shore and gives the food to the crows. The pathos of the story lie in the fact that it is the who is supposed to feed the crow-spirits after a father's death. Here things turn around:  Sajith captures that moment of the father who goes to the jail with all hope, even the hope of his son coming out of the gallows alive. Sajith is successful ingesting the moment with all its weight, silence and sorrow.

Work by Sajith Puthukkalavattom
Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi  has given all these works to OV Vijayan Smaraka Samithi in Thassarack. But the gallery / auditorium, where these works are to be exhibited is devoid of any kind of display facilities. There is no temperature control to withstand the parching heat of Palakkad.  If the authorities do not give attention in preserving these works, in less than a year these works will start disintegrating. Besides, the Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi  should take these works to other cities and villages and exhibit there. As the Akademi has an exhibition bus, these works should be taken around from one end of Kerala to the other end before resting them permanently in Thassarack /  Khasakk.