Kochi-Muziris Biennale


Forming in the pupil of an eye
December 12, 2016–March 29, 2017

Yesterday, India’s largest contemporary art exhibition, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), opened to a crowd of thousands, marking 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 third edition of the Biennale will run for 108 days until March 29, 2017, with works by 97 artists displayed in heritage properties, public spaces, and galleries across Fort Kochi and Ernakulam.

Curator Sudarshan Shetty said, “Reflecting back into the world as much as it takes in, the eye is a mirror for 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 categorise the various disciplines of artistic expression. With a healthy mix of both international and local artists, 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 by 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. 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.

The Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), in collaboration with the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) and the Foundation for Indian Art and Education (FIAE), has also developed the Students’ Biennale, an exhibitory platform which runs parallel to the KMB. Led by 15 young curators, 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. Through multiple institution visits, workshops, interventions and engagements, the curators bring together young artists from all around India to showcase their talents at exhibition venues in Kochi.

At the opening, KBF co-founders Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu 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. 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.”