Pepper House Residency Exhibition

The Pepper House Residency provides a space of expression and dialogue for upcoming and established artists enabling them to find new possibilities in various media. It further seeks to open channels of communication between the artist and the public in creating awareness about art and art education. The residency enables the public to explore and interact with contemporary art and acts as a medium of exploration of the idea and themes of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Since the completion of the first edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the Pepper House Residency programme has hosted twelve artists from India and abroad. The artists who were in residency are Anja Bohnof, Sabine Hornig, Catrine Val, Andre Luetzen, Kochi AIR, Mia Marfurt, Daniel Connell, K.L Leon, Chithra E.G, Karthik K.G, Aami Atmaja and Avantika Bawa. Anja, Andre, Catrine and Sabine were part of Goethe-Institut’s bangaloREsidency.

In continuation to the Pepper House Residency, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, in partnership with Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, is displaying the works of ten artists at Mandalay Hall, Jew Town, Kochi, from 13th December 2014 to 29th March 2015.

The show which is being curated by Riyas Komu will host works which include photographs, paintings, digital videos and a sculpture.

aamiAami Atmaja

Born in 1984, Idukki, India.
Lives and works in different locations in India.

Alappadu to Fort Kochi \ 2014
56 in x 67 in \ Paintings \ Acrylic on Canvas

Mattancherry Cluster \ 2014
38 in x 81 in \ Paintings \ Acrylic on Canvas

Artist’s Note:

My habit of doodling started with creating minute designs for simple costumes worn by the girls in the picture world of my elder sister. as she was progressing with the Anatomy, finding profile views and three fourths, i continued to make meaningless patterns. but she did not let me touch on ‘everyone’. so i tried to make my own ‘people’ but they always showed a weird side of the world! a world of disproportionate anatomy . they did not wear any shining costumes for i thought they did not deserve any! today when i work as a grown up in the same world, i think i only let the disproportionate to shine. as a kid my creative ventures were to keep me out of the world of reality and create a world of my own rules and regulations. i was a shaman and worshipped the triangular, wooden termite leftover of lord January and a coconut shell bhadrakali in my early childhood. my creative spirits were never blocked or questioned until i joined the visual arts college for specialising in Painting. the college shaped up my thoughts as well as craft. all this period, learning and unlearning has been a major activity that helped me grow and self transform. my love for storytelling might have lead me to do figurative narration and the curiosity for mysteries got me stuck to abstraction as well! my style is bipolar in nature but storytelling is essential to me as a starter to crack into more mysteries. the very 2 dimensionality is what i respect about every flat surfaces. i dont try to make art unless there is an original need for it! but when i look around i see the huge bundle of ‘mistakes’ piled around us in the form of architecture, domestic and industrial wastes, markets of all repeated goods.. and so on! i understand the situation is too busy to get anything registered. so i would love to go slow.

the paintings from the residency programme are of more abstractive figuration. i tend more towards abstraction while i work in kerala. the text used in the paintings are either spontaneously ‘drawn’ or collected from the complete works of late Miss k. saraswathiamma (1919-1975). the picture plain is set in, i would call a ‘reverse perspective’. With overlapping of images i have tried to walk back the lessons of perspectives and they are marked with my coming out! i would love to see it as a continuation of an old work ‘pothy purathu’ where the same idea is worked out with narrative possibilities. for me abstraction is getting too close to something to miss the larger view. narration is its larger view where details are rather lost! i have employed myself in a position which has both abstraction and narration in its view points.

LeonK. L Leon

Born in 1974, Thrissur, Kerala.
Lives and works in Kochi.

84 in x 264 in / Paintings / Oil on Canvas.

Artist’s Note:

If one converts the entire world one knows into emblems and possesses all of it, could s/he own the world? Italo Calvino, in Invisible Cities, says then the custodian will become yet another emblem among all other emblems. 

Capturing as a painter is an act of making emblems out of lands, myths, cultures and lives. There are choices to make of what represents the moment, the energy and the bodies. In the process of this conversion, a painter also distances them for the viewer and for himself. Hence the capturing of that which is dying becomes an act of dyeing. An act of museumization, representing as well as emptying out a nebulous sense.  

Communities experience loss; or it is the sense of loss that constitutes the very sense of a community. Such narratives of loss invariably merge myths, histories and objects into an image. My medium equips me for an arrangement of the visual manifestations, and reproduces that image in the concreteness of colours, texture and size. Such a project can contain a counter narrative in its very being due to the nature of the medium. 

As a Malayali painting in the 21st century, I have used these possibilities of the medium to document the life of a nationality, that of Keralite and the centuries that went into the making of a people. The life-conditions that produce such a people must have all gone but it forms people’s imagery and through that their values. Keralites, like all post modern communities, are producing their own nostalgia which mixes religion, politics, objects, icons and tools. My documentation and placing them together in an image is an act of actualizing the possibilities of the notions, and of hinting to the contradictions by exploring them. In that sense dyeing can be an act of laying bare…

SabineSabine Hornig

Born in 1964, South Germany.
Lives and Works in Berlin, Germany.

S.I.L.K. \ 2014
90 x 54 in \ Installation of 7 photographic prints on silk.

Artist’s note:

My photographs, sculptures and installations manipulate the language of architecture, personal and public space using barriers on the one hand and views through transparent planes on the other. By blurring the boundaries between pictorial and real space, viewer and object, my work both challenges and expands upon the ways in which my viewers perceive themselves in their surroundings at large.

In one of my recent installations, a room is created through a construction joining photo transparencies. Urban views, still life wastelands, and transitional places are photographically enlarged and printed on transparent fabric. These images combine scenes of everyday Berlin embedded in a global context: piles of electronic rubbish, cityscapes, and billboards. I have long been preoccupied with the theme of transparency. I recently made reference to Nabokov’s Novel  “Transparent Things”, in which the transparency of objects is used as a means to see through them as layers in time. At the same time, a global perspective on this transparent world seems to equalize and limit the views.

During my residency in India I explored the content-loaded world of the material silk. An excerpt of the installation “S.I.L.K.”, which is showing in a detailed version here in Kochi for the first time, includes photographs of the urban landscape in Bangalore and Kochi printed on to thin transparent layers of silk that are installed throughout the space. Not only the overlying images interact to enrich or contradict each other while one walks through the installation, but also curtains of experience part and open for the viewer: into a landscape in and of silk, embedded in large commercial advertisements, bizarre real estate interferences, huge water issues and, on a more human scale, self-fabricated housing. The viewer is fused into the images, overlapping with and woven into their context, and in passing through them, merges with the scene.

Karthik-KG_Profile-photoKarthik K.G

Born in 1983. Madurai, India.

Lives and works in Delhi India.

‘Composition of a Wall’ \ 2014

The book – glitched’ \ 2014

Wall Projection \ Book

After graduating in engineering, I worked as software engineer for few years, and then went to pursue my masters in Visual arts from Ambedkar University Delhi. The idea of mapping as an overlap of technique, as a form of knowledge, as a technology of power to being a philosophy is what fascinates me. Rather than confining to something objective I also imagine the process of mapping and making sense of a map to be generative, where there is a constant attempt to map and remap.

Coding and programming has been one mode of practice, and it has recently led me to engage with sounds. However, apart from the digital, the algorithmic process transliterates into other media when I engage with drawings, poster design, game design, origami, and bookmaking. The challenge here is in dealing with the permanence of these modes of working in relation to the temporality of programming and generative codes. It gives me an opportunity to engage with the material and immaterial with an alterity. In this sense, I could imagine ‘glitching’ a book, not in its content but on the pages and its format, on its very materiality, and in designing a game with a database structure and interactive narration laid out in physical space. The varied interest here is to explore the potential of the medium in terms of its materiality to stand as a work on its own rather than using the medium to represent something outside.

Pondering over the questions of representation and materiality, I find my fascination with fantasy and the playfulness in dreams and stories as an attempt to resolve. Looking into their poetic mapping of the elements in fantasy and narrations may help me to explore these associations beyond mere representation.

I was part of the Kochi biennale Pepper house residency during June-Aug, 2014 for about 12 weeks. During this period I was able to conceive and execute few of my ideas which took shape of three works which was showcased at the pepper house studio towards the end of the residency period on 30th Aug along with a short presentation session on my practice.

The ‘Composition of a wall’ is a site specific project which is about composing a Visual, Sound based on a specific wall. A wall in the studio space at Pepper house given as a part of the residency is selected for this project. This is a wall with traces of people’s activities, marks of insects and layers of past which are of no/less ‘historical significance’. This project started with my interest in the idea traces and different ways of mapping them. The image of the wall is projected exactly on to the wall along with a programmed Light and shadow composition, which works on and off the wall. This projection mapping activates/ highlights the traces, marks and residues left on the wall. There is a sequence of light and shadow composition, where not only the light highlights the marks but also one could see the shadows giving a different significance to the marks.

Technically any projection assumes the area of projection as a passive surface while what is being projected as an active element. This project also tries to raise questions of surface and the projection, rather than seeing the surface of the wall as a pedestal to display the art object. Here, the visual projection in a way aims to make the wall more visible to the viewer without the projection getting overpowered. In a way it is the projection having a conversation with the wall, and letting the viewer to see what the wall has to speak to us.

‘The book –glitched’, is about designing a book with glitches not in the content of the book, but in the making and materiality of the book. Here the glitch which is present inside the structure is seen as the potential to create a rupture which paves way for something beyond the book. This book was designed with origami folds on the pages of the book which tries to explore the ideas what is meant to be inside and outside, to be included and excluded by creating a sculptural space inside the format of a book.

‘Surveying an invisible soundscape’ was a kinect-sensor based sound performance, where the sound is generated by the size, and shape position of the body or the object present in front of the kinect. In addition to the Kinect being a scanning object, it is programmed to do a vertical scanning of the objects, and the data from this vertical scanning is visualised and sonified.

daniel-connell-2aDaniel Connell

Born in 1970, Adelaide, Australia.
Lives and works in Adelaide, Australia

The Sohan KJ Project  \ 2014

Artist’s Note:

I first met Sohan K J in 2012. I was drawing portraits of Indigenous Australians on a wall in Kochi trying to understand through faces, ancient migration routes and prehistoric links between Australia and South India. He, a past Mayor of the city of Kochi, was on a nightly walk and in response to the drawings he recited to me part of the Pablo Neruda poem The Word


Farther away and nearer

still, still it came

from dead fathers and from wandering races,

from lands which had turned to stone,

lands weary of their poor tribes,

for when grief took to the roads

the people set out and arrived

and married new land and water

to grow their words again.

And so this is the inheritance;

this is the wavelength which connects us

with dead men and the dawning

of new beings not yet come to light…’

So began the Sohan KJ project. A project rather than a work as the ongoing portrait sessions with him in the Pepper House studio and travels around Fort Kochi on his bike, linked and informed the various other experiments I was engaged with. As I translated him onto paper I was drawn into a deeper knowing of this fertile city. 

Standing for a portrait  was also an opportunity to make this man with his overflowing shirt pocket remain in silence except to revisit anecdotes on how the multiple units of a diverse community work together and pull apart. 

Sohan’s insights fed my ongoing research into Homi Bhabha’s Hybridity and the portrait as both a provocation and framework of encounter. It encouraged me to continue to test a traditional portrait drawing practice alongside the social, useful or cosmopolitan ‘turns’ in contemporary art.

Many of the relationships and projects developed at Pepper House are continuing to develop in Australia, some are now an exhibition in another venue in Fort Kochi and for all of this I acknowledge with deep gratitude the Kochi Muziris Biennale Foundation and the Pepper House Residency.

ChithraChithra E G

Born in 1986, Perambavoor, India.
Lives and works in Kochi, India.

Abreaction \ 2014

7 ft x 5.6 ft x 4.6 ft \ Copper Sculpture

Artist’s Note:

‘Abreaction’ is a series of works which include three sculptures spanning over a period of five years. This series stems from the exploration in the solidity and massive aspects of forms. The latest work in this series is almost double in the size of my own body. It is relevant for me as it reflects certain anxiousness about this ‘existence’. It’s massive solidity reaffirms the ‘fertility’ aspect which in turn leads to furthermore ‘creations’. Here I have used ‘body as a tool’ approach. Our physical reality is the immediate one to experiment with. I am using my own face as the model also. The braided hair is lengthened further which goes into the soil like roots. Altogether this work addresses the ‘role playing’ modes of a woman’s existence and it reflects her true ‘self’. The theme here is universal and not being politicized by left-right conundrums or any other such dualistic aspects. It addresses the issue of fundamental freedom; the freedom to be oneself, as opposed to a perpetually conflicting, reactionary ‘self’. The fundamental anxiety regarding the interventions of authorities like parents, teachers, religious hierarchy and such, demanding a certain mode of behavior, codes of conduct, morality, ethnic identity, race considerations, gender behavior, has driven me to pursue a divergent trajectory altogether. Conditioned social and cultural domains do not allow the real life to flourish in its totality. The true insights come out of the awareness of one’s aloneness and its growth finds nourishment from the instinctual than the societal, which is highly politicized by anxiety and hysteria of our times. Yet a specific time frame or geographical location is not my concern here. The ‘abreaction’ (catharsis) really takes place beyond the confinements of the work.

anjaAnja Bohnhof

Born in 1974, Hagen, Germany.
Lives in Dortmund, Germany.

Territories of the Self \ 2014
27×35 in \ Photography.

Artist’s Note:

But sometimes we want these shelters back—the more public our lives are, the more we move in worlds that are strange to us, the less space we have for inner retreat caught up as we are in the demands of daily life.

In my work I would like to make portraits of public figures in Kochi, in their secret childhood hiding places. And drawing on this information I ask them to write a short text in which they say something about this place and the importance it had for them as children. I’m looking for a moment in which something can be shared about this childhood scene by means of the Everyone has “their” spots. Places that have a close connection to their own sense of being and self-image, that constitute identity and may also at different times represent home or memory, platforms for expression, tranquil scenes or sources of inspiration, familiar spaces, places of shelter.

Children look for secret hiding places, places that offer the possibility of retreating from the world when they want. They may be attics, backyards, caves or burrows, a hideout behind a bush, in the wreck of an old boat, a spot on the beach or a wooden shed. These are places with their own laws, where intimacy and privacy are allowed, free of rules and other people’s expectations.

At some point you take up your place in the world and the hideouts become childhood memories. This goes along with the training of our ability to adapt and with it goes the need to hole up and hide away in secret and familiar places to have some time for yourself.

photographic portrait, not just the sharing of an “old” secret and a special place but of an inner, concealed, sacred space, which everyone carries within them.

avantikaAvantika Bawa

Born in 1973 in Ootacamund, India.
Lives and works in Portland, USA and New Delhi, India.

Aqua Mapping \ 2013- 2014
TRT: 24.00 \ Digital Video

Artist’s Note:

Aqua Mapping is a series of three art interventions in three different locations that respond to a site’s coastal history, topography and climate.  Part one, Aqua Mapping (Kochi), engages with the routes of maritime trade in southern India, as well the routes of the local fishing vessels and passenger ferries. It includes a series of prints and photographs and a time lapse of selected footage.

An oversized buoy like form was towed or carried on a Junkar (passenger) ferry, Vallam (local wooden boat) and a motorboat. The route that each of these vessels took was closely informed by their normal paths, and in some case the historic spice route. The journeys took place over several days around the coast and backwaters of Kochi, India.

These documented journeys, presented through a combination of still photos, and a time-lapse video projection attempts to actualize the dotted lines that serve as signifiers for these routes on maps.

Essentially, I am interested in what happens when these conceptual markers and borders–reminders of past and present geographic, military, and cultural boundaries–become part of the physical landscape. How do they confront the viewer with these histories and provoke questions of significance and authenticity in relation to current geographic technologies like the Google pin and Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

CatrineCatrine Val

Born in 1970, Cologne, Germany.
Lives and works in Kessel, Germany.

PHILOSOPHERS, The Lotus Chronicles \ 2014

Artist’s note:

Contemporary culture is influenced by the interaction of science, economy, politics but what is needed at this point is a renewed interest in humanity and the production of knowledge.

Woman in Philosophy is a deliberately ambiguous category; it indicates a racial and cultural or gender designation but also suggests invisibility.  Philosophical enagements are a global phenomena; we all ask the same existential questions,” What is a good life?  What is reality? What is knowledge? What is the self?” Despite the abundant variety of questions the answers are surprisingly uniform and consistently demonstrate a paucity of female voices. 

With this lacuna in mind, my methodology builds on the cultural effects of individualism and mechanization to employ transformations, mirror images, doubling and replications, as means to develop slippery fiction. In an effort to nuance both the questions and the answers, the conceptual task of this project is to celebrate the presence of independent female thinkers, reformers and mystics, through time and to reimagine their appearance in today’s world.

The focus of this presentation rests on two of the oldest Jewish ladies in Kochi’s Jew Town. My pictorial registration of this religiously based and disappearing community stands as a vibrant and critically minded homage to diversity. The central protagonists of these images open doors for further thought; their visage transcends religious boundaries and synergies and attests to the complexity and multiplicity of identities across India. 

These images adopt a “meta” relationship to the world, where the boundaries that mark truth and authenticity are heavily blurred. The title of the work is intended as a statement.  It is simultaneously taken from the most important (though under acknowledged) work of female philosophers and literary figures, some of whom come directly from Kerala. “PHILOSOPHERS, The Lotus Chronicles” pinpoints a new concept of identity that takes as its catalyst Indian culture and knowledge. This project emphasizes the historical presence and absence of women to step beyond discursive postmodern modes of reasoning to propose a new language and grammar for thinking.

andreAndre Luetzen

Born in 1963 in Hamburg, Germany
Lives and works in Germany

Inside Out Cochin \ 2014
40 X 50 cm \ 40 X 80 cm \ 9 photographs

Artist’s Note

Kochi, southern India, monsoon season: For months the sun is hidden and the city veiled in a clammy, milky grey haze. Heavy rains flood streets and public spaces and force people inside even though living spaces are crowded and the heat is breathtaking. The pictures of this series focus on the life and living conditions in the city of Kochi during these monsoon months.

With Inside Out India I continue my work on »Living Cities – inner and outer spaces« that I began in Hanoi, Vietnam and Arkhangelsk, Russia. Climate and social circumstances define the living situations and lead to a very diverse interplay between private and public