At last, India gets it’s own Biennale. This elusive dream became a reality when the chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy officially inaugurated the Kochi-Muziris Biennale on December 12, 2012. For three months, the global art world will portray itself across 14 venues and over 60 exhibition spaces in Fort Kochi, Mattancherry and the erstwhile Muziris area, some 30 km north of it. Over 80 artists from 23 countries are taking part in the grand art carnival. “Art is no longer for its own sake. Contemporary art effaces the lines dividing the high and the low, and shows anyone could become an artist,” said the Chief Minister Chandy.
MOA takes you through a photographic journey across different venues of the Biennale, where the art works are displayed. Also reproduced is the concept note for the Biennale.
There couldn’t have been a better space than Kochi for symbolic free speech; a space for expressions created and leveraged by the various social activist movements. Kochi is the confluence of heterogeneity, a city where more than 30 non-Malayali communities have, over the centuries, come to find refuge, trade, proselytise and much else, only to develop roots and integrate into the local society. It is to this shore that one would bring in the practice of contrasting problems or adverse imagery with constructive imagery to create a force, specificity, confidence and conviction sometimes lacking in the more general, wishful, positive images. Critical imagery can only have its genesis in a shared space where celebrations of ethnicity or historical themes can collapse into metonymic utterances that cancel the distinctions between places and boundaries, aesthetics and politics, between life and art.
Kochi Muziris Biennale explores the possibilities of blurring the boundaries, in a geographical region where boundaries are blurred in a local and cosmopolitan way, where the surroundings offer inspiration by way of the character of the place one can exhibit in. It can generate response to something that is already there as a public space in the neighborhoods, where perceived political content has been a major determinant of what survives and of what gets created as art in the first place.
Kochi’s cosmopolitanism is one that has been worn by generations in Kerala as a badge of honour even as it has led to a series of struggles, time and again, generating a curiosity about current realities, a complex one. It is one that is at the crux of the civilisational crisis – one that is economical, ideological and, thereby geo--political. The compendium of these complexities is what gives this biennale a context and an enquiry. It is a quest that brought the world to these shores and it is the allure of possibilities that inspired great thinkers and saints to embark on numerous adventures – of the body and the mind. The trails they have left behind needs treading upon at this juncture to make a provocative
investigation into the entrails of all the conflicts that we see around the world. Conflicts that lend a modern explanation for the mutual distrust and misgivings that pervades in not just the immediate society but also snapping at the delicate fabric of India’s assertion as a nation--state and the globe that is ironically celebrating its flat character at the same time.
It is in this backdrop of an earnest enquiry that we propose to make Kochi the repository of emerging ideas and ideologies, an occasion to explore a mechanism to process, reflect and rewrite history, different histories, local, individual and collective that would confluence at Kochi. The Kochi Muziris Biennale proposes to open a new discourse, one that will explore a new, hitherto unknown language of narration.