December 11, 2018
The sub-continent’s biggest 108-day festival of contemporary is all set to begin in Kochi on Wednesday.
The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale will feature works of 94 artists will be on display from December 12 to March 29 across 10 venues The Biennale to be inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has been curated by eminent artist Anita Dube.
South Asia’s biggest contemporary art event will also have seminars, workshops, lectures, cinema and performances.
The curatorial theme of the Biennale is ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’. The festival is expected to encourage visitors to participate in its course beyond being viewers, say the organisers. For that, the Biennale pavilion will double up as a public space for conversation. “The pavilion will have no hierarchies over who could speak on what, how long, when and in which language,” notes Dube.
“It is energised by the interactions between works, the dialogue sparked between artistic voices and practices. The audience is invited to share, to listen, and even to challenge the space,” she adds.
This emphasis on interaction will be a defining feature of the upcoming festival, says Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation and the person behind the first edition which gave art a new and different dimension.
He says Dube has been credited with curating the first biennale anywhere in the world to have women totalling more than half of the participating artists.
Lucknow-born Dube, who studied art criticism at Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, has conceived the Biennale, following a year-long travel around the globe. That engagement, defined by intense research and diverse dialogues with artists, led her to shortlist the artists.
The event will be held across heritage venues in the twin towns of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, as well as downtown Ernakulam. The venues are: Aspinwall House, Durbar Hall (Ernakulam), Pepper House, Cabral Yard (site of the Biennale pavilion), David Hall, Kashi Art Café, Kashi Town House, Anand Warehouse, TKM Warehouse and MAP Project Space.
A highlight of the Biennale is a team of 20 dedicated ‘art mediators’ who will be residing in Kochi through the event and giving guided tours every day free of charge. Another novel addition to is the idea of infra-projects, which is a set of four art projects put together by external curators in alignment with the broader curatorial theme.
There will also be a Students’ Biennale, featuring 200 student-artists, belonging to private and public art schools from across the country and parts of South Asia. Other ancillary events include the Let’s Talk series, presentations and discussions by artists and thinkers, Artists’ Cinema, which presents curated packages of films, and the Music of Muziris concert series, showcasing a wide range of traditional and contemporary music acts.
The foundation’s ‘Art by Children’ (ABC) runs as an endeavour that offers resources for artistic experimentation. Integral to it is the ‘art room’, a learning project at Cabral Yard, aiming to introduce people to art making from a young age. Also, there is a two-month Graffiti Residency on till December 20.
Materials used for the Biennale Pavilion will be subsequently repurposed to construct a dozen houses for those affected by the August floods and landslides in the State. In January 18 next year, select paintings, sculptures and installations of more than 40 artists will be auctioned in Kochi as part of the Foundation’s ARK (Art Rises for Kerala) initiative in partnership with auction house Saffronart.