Countdown begins: Less than a month away, Kochi-Muziris Biennale set to make art history all over again
A month from now, this city by the Arabian Sea will be host to yet another shift in the history of Indian art, as the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) starts on December 12, featuring a dynamic range of artwork, along with curated programming in the fields of cinema, performance, as well as seminars and workshops.
Curated by eminent artist Anita Dube around the theme of ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’, the 108-day Biennale held across nine venues will feature a total of 95 artist projects. Slated to conclude on March 29 next year, the Biennale will be held across heritage venues in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, as well as Durbar Hall in downtown Ernakulam. The major art event comes only four months after Kerala was ravaged by its worst natural calamity in a century, affirming the state’s resilience following the tragic floods and landslides.
The core ideas of collaboration and the complementary exhibition are a result of Dube’s year of curatorial travel, intense research, and diverse dialogues with artists and scholars across continents. “While preparation has been key,” Dube points out, “my vision for the Biennale can only be actualised with the active participation of the public.” Dube, who mastered in fine arts from the famed Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, continued: “We are working at full capacity to create the structures that I hope everyone can claim, by listening, sharing, and speaking.”
KBF co-founder Bose Krishnamachari, who is president of the Biennale Foundation, describes Dube as a ‘thinking artist’ with a profound sensitivity towards materials, incorporating everyday objects derived from informal, craft and, industrial sources and spaces. “Her oeuvre features both knowledgeable consideration and skillful melding of the sensibilities and styles of abstractions with real, contemporary concerns. This will without a doubt be reflected in her curation,” adds Krishnamachari, who was a co-curator of the first Biennale, held in 2012.
Dube, as the Biennale’s first woman curator, notes that ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’ hopes to be a space of openness and celebration. “It will be so not only through the fantastic range of artworks on display, but through the varied programmes as well as the Biennale Pavilion as a knowledge laboratory,” she says. “All are welcome!”
A particularly exciting aspect of the Biennale is the team of 20 dedicated Art Mediators that will be resident in Kochi through the span of the event. Especially trained by the Foundation, the Mediators will be giving guided tours of the exhibition at set times every day free of charge, in both English and Malayalam. Visitors can also purchase personal guided tours with a dedicated Mediator should they choose. The exhibition will be spread across nine Biennale venues: Aspinwall House, Durbar Hall, Pepper House, Cabral Yard (Biennale Pavilion), David Hall, Kashi Town House, Uru Art Harbour, Dutch Warehouse, and Anand Warehouse.
There will also be an exciting set of ancillary events during the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018. These include the Let’s Talk series, of presentations and discussions by artists and thinkers, Artists’ Cinema, that presents curated packages of films, and the Music of Muziris concert series, showcasing a wide range of traditional and contemporary music acts, including the Three Seas Project, T M Krishna, Imphal Talkies, and Insurrections Ensemble, amongst many others.
An ongoing two-month Graffiti Residency, running until December 15, is part of the Pepper House Residency, brings life to the public walls of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. The many artists-in-residence from throughout this year will return to Kochi to re-install their work as part of a parallel residency exhibition not to be missed.
The first week of programming, featuring lectures and performances by renowned artists like Guerrilla Girls, Bracha Ettinger, and Otolith Group, as well as film screenings and music, is available on the Kochi-Muziris Biennale website.