Spanish artist Domènec biennale work delves into ‘utopian reality’

Kochi, Feb 6: How much is the distance between utopia and reality? What conditions memory and oblivion?

Funny questions? Well, Domènec’s work seeks to explore them. And more.

At the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the Spanish artist also talks about speculation over the public dimension of architecture and the ideological precepts that determine it. He also delves into socio-historical mechanisms around societies and how they are being interfered with.

At the TKM Warehouse in Mattancherry, the 56-year-old artist showcases two series of work: ‘Voyage en Icarie’ (Journey to Icaria, 2012) and ‘Rakentajan käsi’ (The Worker's Hand, 2012). They feature video installation as well as photographs. “All my works are a reflection on the more or less utopian attempts to build spaces for a better way of life,” shares the artist who is based in Mataró of Barcelona province.

Domènec’s work focuses on the “crisis” of modernity and an awareness of the “failures” of the modern movement. These, in the context of the ongoing exhibition, are materialised in the form of sculptures, installations, photographs and videos as interventions in public space. “Most of my projects relate to architecture. Amongst other things because, of all the arts, architecture is the one that most directly affects people’s lives,” he says.

For the fourth edition of the biennale that is on till March 29, the artist has come up with works that contemplates the future possibilities of past utopian projects. They include those from different local contexts and establish a dialogue with other international areas in order to raise the current impact of utopian proposals arising from the Industrial Revolution as distinct from capitalism.

‘Voyage en Icarie’ remembers the dream of figures like Étienne Cabet and his Icaria project, which was an attempt to build from scratch, in the middle of nowhere, the egalitarian society depicted in Thomas More’s 1551 book Utopia, says the artist.

As for ‘Rakentajan käsi’, it tries to recover the forgotten history of the Helsinki House of Culture (Kulttuuritalo in Finnish). It seeks to revisit the forgotten history of the red-brick concert venue designed by Alvar Aalto (now 78) and built in 1952–58 in the working-class district of Kallio — originally as the headquarters of the Finnish Communist Party, Domènec points out.

In his works, the artist admires the power of modern architecture and provides a platform for a critical re-reading of the utopian aspect of modernity. “My artistic practice focuses on the debate that raged since the 1960s about the historical process called ‘the crisis of modernity’,” he points out. “In a deliberate expansion of the field of sculpture, I try to develop a universe of my own, which reflects the decline in the social visibility of the great modern narratives.”


“The fourth edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale runs from 12 December, 2018 – 29 March, 2019.“
Venues are open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM.
Tickets are available for purchase for ₹100 at Aspinwall House.

Universal free entry every Monday.


By Air: Fort Kochi is 45 km from Kochi International Airport, Nedumbassery.
By Train: Fort Kochi is 13 km from Ernakulam Junction (South) Station and 16 km from Ernakulam Town (North) Station.
By Boat: Fort Kochi is 20 mins from the Ernakulam Boat Jetty and 10 mins from both Willingdon Island and Vypin Boat Jetty.
By Bus: Fort Kochi is 15 km from the main bus station in Ernakulam.

Many of the locations of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale are walking distances from each other (most are around 10 minutes or so).


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