The review catalogue of the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in 2016 was released in the national capital at the inaugural day of the India Art Fair on Thursday.
‘Forming in the Pupil of An Eye’, from the eponymous curatorial theme of KMB 2016, captures the entire corpus of artworks showcased during the 108-day Kochi event curated by eminent artist Sudarshan Shetty. The catalogue launch, organised at the sprawling venue of the 11th India Art Fair, was attended by the management of the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), including its founder-president Bose Krishnamachari and secretary Sunil V besides other trustees and patrons.
Shetty, speaking at the launch, said: ‘Forming in the pupil of an eye’ was not an image of one reality, but a reflection of multiple realities. “My curatorial approach was shaped therefore as a conversation between different streams and forms of art practice,” he said. “We are very happy to launch the catalogue, which is a way of keeping the conversation around the previous biennale going.”
The catalogue, with its minimalist design featuring two large dots on its cover suggesting the biennale theme, has contributing essays by Indian and international participating artists of KMB 2016, besides Krishnamachari and Shetty. The contributors include Malayali writer Anand, Chilean poet Raul Zurita, Mexican painter-poet Valerie Mejer Caso, Argentine writer Sergio Chejfec and Mumbai-based author Sharmistha Mohanty.
Krishnamachari said the launch of the KMB 2016 catalogue could not have been better timed, since the latest edition of the biennale is currently open for public viewing. “This is our way of reviving the discourse around the previous biennale, especially for art critics, curators, artists as well as those who discovered the biennale for the first time,” he said at the launch, which was also attended by Indian and international gallerists, art critics, journalists and artists visiting the India Art Fair (IAF).
Shetty, as the curator of KMB 2016, drew his curatorial vision from mythical accounts of India as the ‘land of seven rivers’. The idea of streams flowing, converging and diverging informed the curatorial questions of the third edition of the biennale, which was explored through the display and performance of artworks by 97 participating artists from 31 countries. Of these, 36 Indian artists, including eight practitioners from Kerala, presented their works.
KBF’s Sunil said the publication of the KMB 2016 catalogue is a special event in the foundation’s calendar. “The catalogue is a true reflection of how people have experienced the last edition spread across Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. I want to thank Sudarshan and the entire team who made it happen,” he added.
The KMB 2016 questioned ‘what really is contemporary art’ and therefore many performances and the spirit of multiculturalism were part of the biennale. The event, spread across 12 venues in Fort Kochi-Mattancherry and Ernakulam, was organised from December 12, 2016 until March 29, 2017.
The main exhibition was supported by an ancillary programme of events that included the Students’ Biennale, conversations, talks, seminars, the Art By Children and the Pepper House Residency exhibitions, workshops, Artists’ Cinema and music sessions.
KMB 2018, which is currently underway at 10 venues in Kochi, is curated by renowned artist Anita Dube. The biennale is the first anywhere in the world to have women totalling more than half of the participating artists. Based on the curatorial theme of ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’, it seeks to explore newer access to art practices amid seminars, workshops, lectures, cinema and performances before its conclusion on March 29.
The IAF, a huge draw for members of the global art fraternity, is a platform to engage with modern and contemporary art practices of the South Asian region. It ends on February 3.