Chopper installation near Kanayi’s famed sculpture kicks up a dust


Thiruvananthapuram: A decommissioned Indian Air Force helicopter installed beside a popular sculpture at the Shanghumughom Beach in the Kerala capital is at the centre of a row.

The artwork that is hemmed by the helicopter is sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman's "Sagara Kanyaka" (mermaid). Kunhiraman and other artists have demanded the shifting of the helicopter as it has disturbed the entire environment in which the sculpture is placed.

A much-used medium twin-turbine assault chopper, Mi- 8, has been installed on a platform close to 'Sagara Kanyaka'.

"Sagara Kanyaka is a work of art. It’s an artistic creation. Helicopter is a machine hence its place should not be anywhere near the sculpture. The helicopter should not be placed near the sculpture," Kanayi made his stand clear.

Minister intervenes

Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran had initially assured to shift the chopper, but the move is resisted by the artist.

Though the minister visited the site along with Kanayi, the discussions held subsequently focused mainly on finding an amicable solution without shifting the helicopter. The assuring words of the minister: "We will finally go by whatever Kanayi says" remains on paper so far.

Though filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, author Paul Zacharia and cultural activist Soorya Krishnamoorthy held discussions for over an hour at the site, Kanayi stuck to his stand that the helicopter should be moved out of the vicinity of the sculpture.

"Let the government decide whatever it wants. If nobody needs the sculpture then demolish it completely. Otherwise, construct a boundary wall around the sculpture. Then people will start coming to offer pujas before the sculpture as they do in places of worship. I don’t have children. These sculptures are my children. If they get disturbed then I am not ready for any compromise," a highly emotional Kanayi stated before the minister. He even broke down at one stage. Zacharia held him and tried to console.

After hearing him out, the minister assured him: "The last word will be yours. The government will only do whatever you say."

Though the minister suggested the planting of trees and creation of a vertical garden to separate the chopper and the sculpture, Kanayi rejected that proposal too outright.

When Adoor spoke about the possibility of retaining the helicopter in the area, Kanayi countered. "Will Adoor allow something needless to enter your frame while shooting?

"But these two - sculpture and helicopter - are not in the same frame " Adoor remarked.

Another issue

Kanayi had come to Shanghumugham on the minister’s invitation. When the sculptor arrived, he found that the work for constructing a new seating arrangement was on and the sculpture park was being dug up for that purpose.

Kanayi brought to the minister’s notice the wild growth around the sculpture.

Locals back chopper

In between a section of local residents said the number of visitors to Shanghumugham had increased manifold after the installation of the helicopter. They urged the minister not to shift the helicopter which has been installed there after spending huge money. When an argument broke out between Kanayi and local residents, the minister intervened and pacified the people.

As the debate heated up, the minister and officials escorted Kanayi and others who came in support of him, towards the trees near the helicopter.

Tea was ordered for everyone present from a nearby tea vendor. The conciliatory talks were held while sipping hot tea before people dispersed.

People left the venue without any clarity on the final decision or when it would be implemented.

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