Music comes out of one of the first rooms you enter at the Aspinwall House, the main building hosting the Kochi Biennale. Between black and white portraits showing India in the 1940s and large sculptures made from recycled industrial waste is a strange-looking musical instrument, oddly titled String Loom. The Biennale is known for its indefiniteness, art can be anywhere, anything. Art can even be music coming from strings of a discarded loom in Kerala, like the one put together by luthiers and musicians under the instruction of Mexican artist Tania Candiani.
Tania, known for putting into her works, nostalgia for things that go obsolete through the language of embroidery, decided to take the dying art of handloom weaving in Kerala and create music out of it. Ranesh Raju, a Kochi-based guitarist, could be seen playing the String Loom for the visitors of the Biennale. A closer look and the yarns are, in fact, strings of a sitar.
Ranesh and two luthiers – one from Mexico, the other from Kochi – worked together to create the string instrument.
The string loom at Kochi Biennale. Created from loom. Idea of Mexican artist Tania candiani. Worked on by luthiers Carlos, vinay and musician Ranesh pic.twitter.com/GxDD6naAdL— Cris (@cristweets) February 10, 2019
“Tania had sent us photos of what she wanted. Carlos Chinchillas, who is assisting Tania, Vinay Murali and I worked together on it for 16 days,” Ranesh says, explaining, “The thread is replaced with sitar strings. Wood is used for the sound box. Guitar bridges are used in the top and the bottom to adjust the tone. There are 69 strings in all.”
Various styles of music can be played on it, he says, and goes on to play a meditational note.
Tania’s projects are focused on promoting links between the history of science, empirical observation techniques and technological utopias, like her works titled Serendipia, 2013 and Atlas, 2015. These works are based on the reinterpretation and recreation of forgotten ideas in order to rethink the moment of invention (Máquina para volar, Besnier 1673, 2015).
Her early work focuses on the architecture of embroidery. She is currently exploring the materiality of sound, possibilities of mechanical intervention and the tension between written language and oral text.