Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 Opens
13 December 2016: Yesterday, India’s largest contemporary art exhibition, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), opened to a crowd of thousands. The 12th of December saw the grand opening commence at 12pm, as per the two previous editions of the biennale. This was followed by a performance from 150 drummers and an official inaugural ceremony carried out by Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan. A musical performance closed the opening ceremony and marked the start of three months of contemporary art, culture and design in the city of Kochi. Titled ‘Forming in the pupil of an eye’, the Biennale will run for 108 days until March 29, 2017. For the third edition of the KMB, a total of 97 artists have been invited to create new work across the city of Kochi.
Curator Sudarshan Shetty said, “Reflecting back into the world as much as it takes in, the eye is a mirror of the world. Forming in the pupil of an eye is not an image of one reality but a reflection of multiple realities and of multiple possibilities in time. Forming in the pupil of an eye brings that multiplicity of experience together within the space of Kochi-Muziris Biennale. It was, therefore, important for this, my first curation of the biennale, that we address multiple artistic art forms.”
In keeping with its curatorial vision, this edition of the Biennale attempts to question and blur the boundaries that categorize the various disciplines of artistic expression. KMB 2016 will feature works by visual artists, architects, poets, musicians and performance professionals from diverse cultural and artistic traditions. Illustrating this inclusion of figures from fields not normally associated with contemporary art is the work of Slovenian poet, novelist, and essayist Aleš Šteger whose pyramid-like structure is installed at Aspinwall House. Similarly, architect Tony Joseph has created The Biennale Pavilion, an artwork in itself, which is hosting the Artists’ cinema, seminar and performance programme. Architect Alicja Kwade’s installation at Mattancherry warehouse involves the manipulation of the structural properties of everyday objects.
Performance pieces feature strongly in the biennale programme, including the work of Anamika Haksar, New York-based Japanese artist Aki Sasamoto with a performance-based installation and Zuleikha Chaudhari whose video and performance work is on show at Aspinwall House. Literary works are also a feature of the biennale, such as the experimental literature of author and poet Sharmistha Mohanty.
Multi-disciplinary artists have been selected; such as artist, composer, and performer Hanna Tuulikki, whose immersive ethereal spaces weave connections between oral tradition, ecology, language and archaeology, evidenced by her piece Sourcemouth: Liquidbody, commissioned for the Biennale.
Curator Sudarshan Shetty has selected a healthy mix of both international and local artists. For example, Taiwanese visual artist Wu Tien-Chang, famous for his socio-political commentary work through oil painting and digital photography is showing in the 2016 edition alongside the mural of artist PK Sadanandan who has evolved a style that combines local teachings and practices of Kerala with those from across India, particularly drawing inspiration from the ancient Ajanta and Ellora cave paintings of Maharashtra. Russian artist collective AES+F, known for their monumental video-art installations, present their work titled ‘Inverso Mundus’. Jeddah-based artist Dana Awartani’s work titled Love is my Law, Love is my Faith demonstrates her knowledge of traditional textile and embroidery technique as well as calligraphy and geometric patterns. Indian artist Dia Mehta Bupal has created life-size installations of sets using material from magazines and other pop-culture ephemera.
At the opening, Bose Krishnamachari said; “Building on our year -round programme of activity, we are excited to welcome the artists and visitors to attend the opening of the third edition of the Kochi Biennale. This is the result of hard work from a great team and the curatorial vision of Sudarshan Shetty.”
Riyas Komu added “ We are delighted to give artists the opportunity to create works in our city and we are proud to be able to present internationally recognized cultural activities to the community in Kochi and in wider India. This is the People’s Biennale.” The Biennale’s main exhibition is supported by an ancillary programme of talks, seminars, the Students’ Biennale, the Art By Children exhibition, residency programmes, workshops, film screenings and music sessions across venues in Fort Kochi-Mattanchery and Ernakulam.
The Kochi Biennale Foundation, in collaboration with the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) and the Foundation for Indian Art and Education (FIAE) has developed the Students’ Biennale, an exhibitory platform which runs parallel to the KMB. This project reaches out to state-funded art colleges across the country, to encourage young artists to reflect on their practice and exhibit on an international stage. The project is led by 15 young curators. Through multiple institution visits, workshops, interventions, and engagements, the curators bring together young artists from all around India to showcase their talents at the exhibition venues in Kochi, Kerala. Since November 2015, the project has reached out to 45 government and 10 private art schools across India and will include the work of over 200 BFA and MFA students.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale uses heritage properties, public spaces, and galleries in Fort Kochi and Ernakulam. KMB 2016 venues will include Aspinwall House, Pepper House, Kottapuram Fort, David Hall, and Durbar Hall.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 is organized with support from the Government of Kerala, alongside our corporate partners, CSR partners, patrons and art councils and embassies, foundations, and galleries.