Visiting the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2012

Yamini Telkar of Saffronart shares her experience of attending India’s first biennale in Kochi

Entrance to the Kochi Muziris Biennale12/12/12

Entrance to the Kochi Muziris Biennale
12/12/12

New Delhi: My trip from Delhi to Kochi for the opening ceremony of the Biennale was besieged with delays and it took me the entire day to get there. I thought I would have missed the opening ceremony, which was scheduled to start at 4.30 pm, but of course it was a gross miscalculation on my part, as the spectacle had just started at 7.00 pm, so I managed to catch most of it. However unlike any Art Fair events, where one exclusively encounters the art community, this was an open-for-all event so it was difficult to find artists, gallerists,  especially if one walked in late, like me! But I managed to meet most of the art world in the beautiful heritage restaurants and walking around the picturesque Fort Kochi.

Aspin Wall Hall

Aspinwall Hall

The next day, recharged, I set about visiting the venues. What really helped me plan it was advise from friends who had fumbled along, so with timely interventions I really managed to view all the works spread across 5 venues: Aspinwall Hall, a 19th century sprawling spice warehouse which housed most of the installations; Pepper Hall; Mandalay House in Jew Town; and 2 other venues, which were not named.

Installation by Sudarshan Shetty

Installation by Sudarshan Shetty

Installation by Subodh Gupta

Installation by Subodh Gupta

And as already reported by the media I was unable to see quite a few works which were still in the process of being installed.

Installation by L. N. Tallur

Installation by L. N. Tallur

Installation by Anant Joshi

Installation by Anant Joshi

If there was one word that would describe the art on display it would be scale – it was almost as if each artist wanted to outdo the others through scale. One could say the space demanded such large scale works, and it worked for some installations like L.N. Tallur’s mega roof, or Vivan Sundaram’s work using the terracotta remains from the archaeological site of Muziris. But the most poignant was Valsan Kolleri’s work where he used a tiny back room and used the material from the building.

Read more about the biennale here.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale begins today!

Manjari Sihare shares details of the much awaited Kochi- Muziris Biennale

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012 An interactive map of India's First Biennale celebrating contemporary artists from around the world.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012 An interactive map of India’s First Biennale celebrating contemporary artists from around the world.

New York: The date 12.12.12 is going to go down in India’s books for more than one reason.  The country’s largest contemporary art event, and its first biennale, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is being inaugurated today across different venues in the Fort Kochi area of Cochin in Kerala, South India. While India has a strong history of hosting triennales, the very first of which was organized in 1968 by the legendary Mulk Raj Anand, the Kochi- Muziris Biennale will be the first biennale in the country.

Typical of the phenomenon of an international art biennale, this one is also centered on the city, in this case, invoking the underlying multi-ethnic spirit of the modern metropolis of Kochi and its mythical past, Muziris, the recently excavated ancient city that was buried under layers of mud and mythology after a massive flood in the 14th century. The biennale is the brain child of eminent contemporary Indian artists, Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu. The first edition will feature approximately 90 Indian and international artists, introducing contemporary international visual art practice to India in manner not done before. Special highlights include newly commissioned works by artists such as Ariel Hassan (Argentina), Amanullah Mojadidi (Afghanistan), Anita Dube (India), Sudarshan Shetty (India), Subodh Gupta (India), Hossein Valamanesh (Iran/Australia), Tallur LN (India), Vivan Sundaram (India), Sheela Gowda (India), Joseph Semah (Netherlands), Nalini Malani (India), Atul Dodiya (India), UBIK (Dubai), Rigo 23 (Portugal), Jonas Staal (Netherlands), Dylan Martorell (Scotland/Australia), Ernesto Neto (Brazil). British singing sensation of Tamil descent, Mathangi Arulpragasam (M.I.A.) has been roped in to perform at the inauguration. Known for her avant-garde music, M.I.A. has previously shared stage space with the likes of Madonna and Rihanna, as well as  been a part of the A.R. Rahman’s team for the music of Slumdog Millionaire.

The event is a multi-faceted one including a two-day symposium, ‘Site Imaginaries’, on 15 & 16 December, 2012.  From the situated ground point of Kochi, the symposium aims to explore and retrieve memories in the current global context to posit alternatives to political and cultural discourses, and build a platform for dialogue for a new aesthetics and politics rooted in the Indian experience. The panelists include Aman Mojadidi, Amar Kanwar, Ariel Hassan, Ashok Sukumaran , Atul Dodiya, Clifford Charles, Shahidul Alam, Gayatri Sinha, Geeta Kapur, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Jonas Staal, Joseph Semah, Marieke van Hal, Nalini Malani, Nancy Adajania, Paul Domela, Pooja Sood, Ranjit Hoskote, Riyas Komu, Robert Montgomery, Sarat Maharaj, Tasneem Mehta, Vivan Sundaram, Vivek Vilasini.

The biennale will be held across different venues including the Aspinwall House loaned to Kochi-Muziris Biennale by DLF Limited in association with the Gujral Foundation, a restored Dutch bungalow called David Hall, spice warehouses and heritage structures being opened to the public for the first time ever. Characteristic of leading biennales across the world, this one too is expected to give a boost to the State’s economy.

Read more.

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