Black hole meets bottomless whirlpool in a site-specific exhibition by Bombay-born, British-bred artist Anish Kapoor. Titled Descension, the gated vortex of churning, frothing water spirals endlessly in a circular pit on the floor of Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi, holding viewers enraptured like moths to flame.
The main doors of the foyer open to views of a peaceful coastline in striking contrast to the angry, roaring churn from within that brings cataclysmic scenarios to mind.
It took a week of digging by 50 laborers to whittle a hole large enough to sink the whirlpool, all the while being careful not to dig too deep and inundate the space with seawater. The sunken hole measures approximately 8.5 x 10.5 x 10.5 feet. Kapoor won a Turner Prize in 1991 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2011, but Descension is one of the artist’s few site-specific installations.
The all-consuming exhibition was displayed at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the first biennale for contemporary art to be held in Kochi. “I would say the skin of an object is what defines it. Its weight and mass are contingent on its skin. But scale, of course, is much more mysterious,” Kapoor said in a video released on his official website.
Kapoor is known for monumental installations that exploit the laws of physics to optical effect, such as the nearly three story-tall Sky Mirror mounted over Fifth Avenue in 2006 that visibly inverted the skyline. ‘Leviathan’ was another striking spectacle, a giant, involuted, four-armed balloon that occupied the Belle Epoque exhibition hall of the Grand Palais in Paris for five weeks, where viewers could enter the balloon for a belly of the beast-like experience.