Exploring UAE-India partnership through art

New Delhi - Down south, in Kochi, Kerala, the cultural depth in ties is for all to see, literally

By Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 25 Jan 2017, 7:27 PM

Last updated: Wed 25 Jan 2017, 9:31 PM

The political and strategic engagement between the UAE and India may be getting a new impetus here in the Indian capital with the visit of His High-ness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. But, down south, in Kochi, Kerala, the cultural depth in ties is for all to see, literally.
Emirati life and traditions are on display at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the annual art festival that is wowing art aficionado to the Venice of the East that has simply come to be known as Kochi. The exhibition is being held in Fort Kochi, a lazy hamlet swept by a tourist frenzy during the season. The hamlet is a one-hour drive from the commercial hub of Ernakulam, or 45 minutes by the ferry.
'Binary States India - UAE' , as the exhibition is called, is drawing visitors by the dozens. They feel emotionally connected to the UAE. It is said that each family in Kerala, where Kochi is located, has at least one member living in the UAE.
The exhibition is organised by UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in association with Cultural Engineering. It depicts Emirati and Indian lives, en-twined together by a common destiny. The pangs of migration and cultural intermingling comes together in art.
According to a Press statement, the participation of the UAE in the premier Indian art exhibition is "particularly important as it coincides with the visit to India of Sheikh Mohamed to India, where he will be the chief guest at the country's 68th Republic Day celebrations on January 26".The UAE is emerging as a modern art powerhouse in its own right. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah have made names for them-selves as destinations for artists.
The country's participation in the Kochi Biennale shows the importance it has attached to its cultural ties with India. Trade brought them together. People and their culture followed.
A realistic treat for the senses
What's unique about the Binary States India - UAE exhibition is that it has audio installations, podcasts, written narratives, photo-graphs and videos of what made the UAE and India long-standing friends and partners.
> 'Hoisting Histories', oral history installation, shows migration between India and the UAE. Life was tough, but people persisted, lived with change and succeeded in their lives. It brings to the fore fear, doubt, faith and persistence.
> A photo feature named 'Ammar Al Attar' or Reverse Moments, by Prem Ratnam, shows how people adapted to lives in a different country, away from their homes and loved ones. Ratnam has a photographic memory of the people he shot from 1971. Sheer grit and courage to explore and experience makes this exhibit by the veteran Kerala photographer a visual treat.
> 'Veedu', a video film by Vikram Divecha, is about collaboration. The documentary by the Beirut-born, Mumbai-raised artist based in the UAE, shows how a client in the Emirates hires a Kerala architectural firm to design a house. Realistic stuff!

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