Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn offers Kochi art lovers cues on how to judge an artwork

A unique Biennale workshop where participants are invited to bring their artworks for evaluation based on a specific criterion, is being conducted this month.

The artworks could be a piece of text, photograph, collage, video, painting or sculpture. But there’s a catch: the submissions will not be evaluated on the basis of their quality, whether they are good or bad. In fact, the live feedback session, open to all Biennale visitors, involves judging their art on its ‘energy’ quotient.

The month-long workshop, led by Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn, is titled “Energy: Yes! Quality: No!”, and has attracted a diverse group of participants from Kochi, the rest of India and abroad. “The idea behind having this workshop is to encourage others to develop a work of their own. They shouldbe ready to have it judged and also trust one’s own judgement,” Hirshhorn says, elaborating on the goals of the critical workshop that will have evaluations done by the programme leader and other attendees.

Paris-based Hirschhorn, who favours collage works because of their plurality, also engages with easily available and vernacular materials, which allow the viewers to develop their own understanding of the works. It’s a quality the artist has sought to bring to his workshop as well.‍

Making the distinction between the quality versus judgement criteria, the 61-year-old artist says he uses the term ‘quality’ negatively because it excludes others and makes a distinction between good or bad. “To me, judgement is a positive term because judging the work is never judging the person,” he says. “But judging a work is one of the keys to giving form, and asserting form is most important in art.”

Hirschhorn’s workshop is being organised at Cabral Yard, which isthe site for the Biennale Pavilion, a multi-functional structure that also serves as an interactive platform for visitors to express their creativity.

The critical workshop, part of the Kochi Biennale’s curatorial theme ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’, will conclude on March 28. English and Malayalam speakers are invited to participate in the workshop, which is held twice a day, from 10am-1 pm and 3pm-6pm.

Those interested in registering for the workshop can write to: applications@kochimuzirisbiennale.org

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