‘Triumph of Labour’at Students’ Biennale

Inspired by the iconic ‘Triumph of Labour’ statue at Chennai’s Marina beach, a group of art students from Tamil Nadu are exhibiting a series of installations here under the same name,as part of the Students’ Biennale that runs parallel to the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016.

Motivated by the first May Day rally in India held at the Marina beach, sculptor Debi Prasad Roy Chowdhury, who headed the then Madras School of Arts and Crafts crafted in 1959 the iconic bronze statue depicting the working class’ toil. He used the watchman of the college and his students to model for the monumental piece of work that depicts four men labouring to move a rock.

Multiple interpretations of the Labour Statue created by the students are now on display at Anubhuti Gallery, at Mattanchery, one of the venues of the Students’ Biennale.“The idea behind these installations originated from an enigma,” says C P Krishnapriya , curator of Students’Biennale.

The Madras School of Fine Arts and Crafts, which is now Tamil Nadu Government College of Fine Arts has an old museum which has been closed for decades. “Several stories and speculations were attached with this museum,” says Krishnapriya. “Thinking about the different kinds of creative expressions that could go to fill the mystery gave rise to the idea for the statues,” she says.

Seventeen students from Government College of Fine Arts, Chennaiand 18 from the Government College of Fine Arts, Kumbakonam worked for the Students’ Biennale project. “Most of the students had experience working with the handicraft sector. This experience with the cottage craft industry must have helped them relate to this project,” says Krishnapriya.

From labourers in uniforms to sweat drops collected in bottles, the installations portray diverse creative expressions. The symbols of weaving, coconut weaving, brick making have all made this project an enriching experience.The heritage building of the Chennai Fine Arts College is made of traditional bricks, a model of which is replicated in the art work, with students recreating the original brick mould used in building the college with rubber.

Students’ Biennale, an integral part of KMB 2016 is spread along seven venues at Bazar road and Jew town at Fort Kochi. 455 students from 55 government fine arts colleges have participated in Students’ Biennale with 15 senior fine arts students curating the exhibition.

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