Kochi Biennale pavilion to be repurposed to build houses for flood-affected in Kerala

Materials used for the upcoming Kochi-Muziris Biennale Pavilion will be subsequently repurposed to construct houses for the flood-affected in Kerala.
Anita Dube
Anita Dube

Kochi, Nov 10: Materials used for the upcoming Kochi-Muziris Biennale Pavilion will be subsequently repurposed to construct houses for the flood-affected in Kerala, according to the leadership of the country’s foremost contemporary art festival that is beginning next month.

At least a dozen homes of 600 square feet each will be built next summer from the structure that is currently being constructed at Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi in time for the Biennale which starts on December 12, revealed Bose Krishnamachari, founder-president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation.

The Foundation felt an urgent need to contribute to relief and aid efforts after the August deluge and landslides that ravaged the state. “This will be one way of our joining the state government’s ‘Rebuilding Kerala’ mission,” Krishnamachari said, also referencing the major art auction the Foundation is organising for the same purpose.

Select paintings, sculptures and installations of more than 40 artists living in the country and abroad will go under the hammer at the event in Kochi on January 18, 2019, as part of the Foundation’s ARK (Art Rises for Kerala) initiative in partnership with SaffronArt, he confirmed on Friday evening.

This year’s Biennale curator Anita Dube said the monsoon calamity in Kerala had prompted her to explore ways in which the Biennale could respond to the massive loss of lives and livelihoods. Given the severity of the catastrophe, Dube offered the chance for participating artists to alter their work in response to the tragedy.

“Some artists were affected by news of the event and changed their ideas,” she pointed out, emphasising that resources which are currently making a major public structure for the Biennale will be used after the event to construct houses for the flood-affected.

The 2018 edition, the curator said, has been conceived as featuring two segments: one is the exhibition, and the other the Pavilion - a discursive, performative, architectural space where everybody potentially can be a curator.

“Each visitor can enact or tell each other their ideas. It’s going to be thoroughly interactive,” added Dube, whose curatorial note ‘Possibilities of a Non-Alienated Life’ speaks of “a desire for liberation and comradeship… where pleasure and pedagogy could sit together and share a drink, and where we could dance and sing and celebrate a dream together.”

<em>Bose Krishnamachari, Anita Dube and Sunil V</em>
Bose Krishnamachari, Anita Dube and Sunil V

Dube said it was a paradox that people today remained alienated amid a “hyper-connected and mediated world, leading us vulnerable to the dangers of demagogy of the right wing”. To a question on whether KMB 2018 was going to be a ‘Marxist biennale’, the curator said she did not mean to politicise the art event “in a loud, sloganeering way, but allow for a space of exchange”.

V Sunil, Secretary of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, remarked that the decision to go ahead with the Biennale despite the August calamity prevailed over the KBF especially in consideration of public sentiments. “People, especially of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, were keen the Biennale went as per schedule. We felt it was a chance to help bring back hope, energy, and positivity to the state. The Foundation also had the full support of our patrons,” he added.

Krishnamachari, who was a co-curator of the inaugural KMB in 2012, spoke at length about the parallel events the KBF organises apart from the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

They include Students’ Biennale, the ‘Let’s Talk’ lecture series, Music of Muziris concerts, Artists’ Cinema film screenings, ABC (Art By Children), Pepper House Residency Programme, Master Practice Studios, ‘Art and Medicine’ therapeutic concert series, and Video Lab for archiving, experimentation and research on contemporary arts.

The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is curated by Anita Dube and runs from 12 December, 2018 to 29 March, 2019.

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