Yesterday’s WPC theme- ‘Life Imitates Art’ got me thinking. I remembered that it has already been a year since I visited Cochi for the Kochi Muziris Biennale– India’s leading art event in a beautiful setting.
I remembered seeing there a series of photographs that had piqued my interest. Titled “The Arrival of Vasco da Gama” these photographs were a take on an artistic potrayal of a historic event. (For those of you who may not know Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer who was the first European to sail all around the African continent to reach India directly without going through the Meditteranean).
In 1498 Vasco da Gama arrived at the Court of the Zamorin (the local ruler) in Calicut (now Kozhikode, Kerala). 400 years after this incident a Portugese painter Jose Salgado painted a narrative of this incident.
This painting is narrated from the perspective of the European- the visitor- da Gama is the focal point of attention. All the other members of the court including the king are rapt with attention. In reality, accounts relate that the gifts brought by Vasco da Gama were so meagre that they failed to impress the Zamorin which ultimately caused friction between the two.
So if a tale can be spun around in one way it can be spun around in another way too. And this is what the artist sculptor Pushpamala had attempted with her “Arrival of Vasco da Gama”. In this series of photographs it is actually Pushpamala herself who has masqueraded as a European man for the photographs. The other members of court are her friends.
I really found the photograph sans costumes to be the most intriguing of the collection.
So what do you think? Does life imitate art or is it the other way around or is it neither?