If there is one conversation, among the many, that artist Praneet Soi had with the craftsmen of the coir factory in Cherthala, one that he relishes, and one that proved crucial to his work was about using an outdated method of patterning coir, a process that had lost out to mechanisation and hence threatened the tremulous world of the workers. It was one that brought visible joy on their faces. “I was asking them to use a skill that had become redundant because of automation. For them it was a hopeful prospect to revive that,” says Praneet, whose installation Astatic Garden catches the fluidity of movement dexterously in coir. The installation is displayed in the central courtyard of Pepper House, as part of the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB).
Praneet’s work process for this piece, and for the final work that will include video art, drawings and documentation of “left and right of coir,” will be presented towards the finale of KMB. Till then he will work, as he has been, as an embedded artist exploring the situations faced by the coir industry in Kerala and its impact on the lives of workers.