The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the three-month international exhibition of contemporary art which concluded recently ended in a bizarre manner when American artist Waswo X Waswo destroyed his art work to protest against the difficulties he faced while moving his artwork to and from the venue.
Waswo is seen throwing and breaking his art work "Sleeping Through the Museum" when trade unions demanded huge amount for loading the artwork from the venue.
"This is a testament to the unions of Kerala and what they do to the business and how they destroy business in the state," says Waswo in the video.
Waswo later wrote that the unions were demanding huge amount for loading the vehicles with pieces of his artwork and were working as mobs, refusing anyone to load or unload until their demands were met.
"Destroying an art installation rather than paying the high rates of extortion Keralan so-called 'unions' charge to load delivery vehicles. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale ends and many of the same artists who suffered exorbitant demands by the unions of Kerala to unload trucks, faced even more exorbitant demands to load them once again. For anyone not familiar with this situation, the unions basically function as mobs, surrounding a truck and refusing anyone to load or unload until their demands are met...asking as much as 60,000 to 80,000 rupees to load one truck. Intimidation and threats of violence and property damage are employed," wrote the artist.
Waswo added that the only way he could get them to start a negotiation was to threaten to destroy his art work rather than shipping them. He also pointed out that the Biennale was a special target by these unions who demanded 20 times the regular rates.
"This video shows the early morning destruction of a part of our installation. Thankfully it started a process of negotiation and an eventual agreement on more equitable terms. The Biennale was a special target for the unions, who asked as much as 20 times the regular rates. What is this exploitation of art? And how does the media feed a notion that artists make crores of rupees with each artwork they produce?" concludes Waswo.
Kochi – Muziris Biennale, the 108-day-long exhibition is one of India's most prestigious art festival and saw displayed of works by 94 artists from 30 countries.