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Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018: All Set for a Peek at Global Contemporary Art

In Kerala
December 13, 2018

The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale will begin here on Wednesday, featuring contemporary art from across continents for 108 days.

As many as 94 artists’ work will be on display from December 12 to March 29 next year in 10 venues of the Biennale, which will be inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Curated by eminent artist Anita Dube, South Asia’s biggest contemporary art event also hosts seminars, workshops, lectures, cinema and performances.

What’s more, the curatorial theme of ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’ encourages visitors at the Biennale to participate in its course beyond being viewers. 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.”

This emphasis on interaction will be a defining feature of the upcoming festival, according to Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation. He further notes that Dube has been credited with curating the first biennale anywhere in the world to have women totalling more than half of the participating artists.

On the evening of December 12 in Fort Kochi, the CM will declare the festival open. The function at Parade Ground, slated to begin with a Chenda Melam orchestra led by Padma Shri Peruvanam Kuttan Marrar will also be addressed by Yusuf Ali, Chairman and Managing Director of LuLu Group International, Nilima Sheikh, artist and Feroze Gujral, director, Gujral Foundation and trustee of the Biennale. The inauguration will be followed by a live performance by the Bangalore-based Vasu Dixit Collective.

Earlier that day, the Biennale flag will be hoisted at Aspinwall House, the main venue of the festival. This will be followed by a walk with the curator. The afternoon will see two artist performances — one by Mexican Tania Candiani (Aspinwall) and other by Netherlands-based Rana Hamadeh (MAP Project Space).

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 for the Biennale.

The event will be held across heritage venues in the twin towns of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, as well as in 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 India 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’s 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.