Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2019 - Here's All the Details and Why You SHOULDN'T Miss It!

What is the Kochi Muziris Biennale?

Art is in the air
Imagine being at the centre of contemporary art in India, and at a great location like Fort Kochi, a mixed pot of culture! Brace yourselves, art fanatics, the fourth edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale has arrived and will open its doors on December 12, 2018, and will go on till March 29, 2019.

The Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018 is a biennial international contemporary art exhibition that runs for four months at the island of Fort Kochi in Kerala. Get immersed in modern art forms from Indian and International artists portrayed through various mediums like contemporary art paintings, sculptures, installations and more.


Kochi Biennale Streets contemporary art
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Each edition of the Biennale has a theme, this year it's - Possibilities of a Non-Alienated Life. This edition, we have Anita Dube, co-founder of KHOJ International Artists' Association, curating the exhibition. Here's what she has to say about the theme:

'At the heart of my curatorial adventure lies a desire for liberation and comradeship where the possibilities for a non-alienated life could spill into a 'politics of friendship.' Where pleasure and pedagogy could sit together and share a drink, and where we could dance and sing and celebrate a dream together.'

Important Details of the Kochi Muziris Biennale

  • Ticket counter is open from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Aspinwall House. (Single all-access ticket accepted at all venues). There is no online booking/prior booking option.
  • Guided tours: 11 AM, 3 PM: 90 Minutes duration each
  • Venues: Aspinwall House, Pepper House, Kashi Art Cafe, Durbar Hall, David Hall, Cabral Yard, Kashi Town House, Uru Art Harbour and Anand Warehouse. 

Kochi Biennale Kashi Art Cafe
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Set across 12 venues across the island, with 76 artists, the Kochi Biennale isn't just for the art aficionados, but for anyone looking to find an escape. What better way to do that by exploring the capabilities of these creative minds.  

It all started back in 2012 as an initiative to create an international contemporary art festival in the state of Kerala. Now, three successful editions later, the project has gone from having 200,000 visitors in the first edition to over 600,000 visitors in the third edition in 2016. It has gotten art enthusiasts flocking from all over the globe to this gathering of the arts.

The Kochi Muziris Biennale Foundation has also taken into account the recent tragic floods that hit the state of Kerala by doing its part for its welfare. They have initiated Art Rises for Kerala (ARK), which will auction artwork from 40 Indian and international artists on January 19, 2019, where all proceeds go to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.

Things to Carry During the Exhibition

Fort Kochi What to Wear
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A Map of the Venues:
This gives a thorough guide of all the venues and events and lets you plan your next venue visit without any confusion. Treat the venue map as your bible for the duration of your trip there.

All-Access Ticket: This ticket is issued only at the Aspinwall House venue and is the one ticket that will give you access to all the other venues as well. At the Kochi Biennale keep this motto with you - keep your friends close but keep your Kochi Biennale ticket closer. 

A Hat: The places are at walkable distances from each other, but these walks can be pretty exhausting with the scorching sun burning into your skull if you don't have a hat on. Don't let the heat get the best of you, stay cool with a hat. In Kochi, hats are always in trend.

A Bottle of Water: Although there are many restaurants and vendors selling water at every nook and corner, it does take a while for you to get out of each venue due to the exhibition's comprehensive nature. Stay hydrated and energised at all times by carrying a bottle of water.

Wear Lighter Clothes: Due to the humid conditions, wear lighter clothes for maximum comfort. This way, you won't need to keep going back to your accommodation to freshen up.

A Power Bank for your Gadgets: One doesn't simply visit all the venues at the Kochi Biennale in one cell phone battery capacity, in fact, it takes a few recharges, especially with all the pictures you'd be taking. With the extensiveness of the exhibition and venues spread across the entire island, stay prepared by carrying a fully charged power bank. Keep your gadgets charged and save time from those unnecessary trips back to the hotel.

What to Expect at the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018

Kochi Biennale street art
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With 'graffiti' or art from renowned street artists already splashed onto various structures of Kochi's streetscapes, the ghosts of the exhibition have already crept its way into the city.  

With the final list of artists out, aspiring visitors get a gist of what to expect at the festival, one that hints at the widest variety of art and art styles one could possibly imagine in one little capsule of magic! The previous edition brought out some impactful work like the Sea of Pain, The Pyramid of Exiled Poets, River of Ideas, and many more. Here's a little flashback as to what went down at the last Biennale. 
Kochi Biennale Raul Zurita sea of pain
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Sea of Pain by Raul Zurita is what one could call as a poetry installation. He told a story with his art, a story about two brothers amidst the Syrian refugee crisis. With the work on the lines of experiential art, visitors got to experience the heavy impact the artist was trying to portray by getting into the warehouse that was filled with feet deep water with his poetry written along ceiling-high whiteboards. 


Sea of pain kochi biennale 2016
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River of Ideas by Chittrovanu Mazumdar is a piece that puts into perspective the beauty of light. The artist takes into perspective the ghats of Varanasi at night, lit greatly by lamps that give a blanket of light and life to the banks of the river. This installation is another experiential art exhibit portrayed by a million bulbs burrowed in metal cones.


Pyramid of exiled poets kochi biennale best work
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The Pyramid for Exiled Poets by Ales Steger is a haunting representation of the lives and struggles of some of the most controversial poets of our time like Brecht, Alighieri and others. In a clay pyramid that represents the one at Giza, visitors walk into this structure blind due to the lack of light, with the voices of people reading various poems from these dead poets, all while desperately looking for a way out of the pyramid. The artist wanted to show people how these poets felt during their lives.

About Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi Streets
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Fort Kochi is a peaceful seaside town in the south-western part of Kochi known for its old-world colonial charm. The place still holds every single cultural change it went through over the centuries. Although we see remnants of British rule all over the country, tourists flock here all year round to get the essence of the Portuguese and Dutch colonialism that affected this part of India. Enhance the Kochi Biennale experience by staying at a hostel or a homestay. It gives you 'room' to meet like-minded aficionados and explore different minds from different walks of life. Make a friend or two, who wouldn't want that.

After or before visiting the Kochi Biennale, you can visit other attractions in Fort Kochi, hit two birds with one stone when it comes to getting a full money's worth with your trip. Here are a few things you can do while you're here - 
  • Fort Kochi Beach: A trip to Fort Kochi is incomplete if you haven't visited the beach. Just like any other beach, this one has its charms. From tourists to families, the crowd is bustling with positive energy. But the one thing that's sets this beach apart from the rest is the Chinese fishing nets
  • St. Francis Church: Remembered as the original burial site of traveller and discoverer, Vasco Da Gama in 1524, the church holds a very significant name for the country's Portuguese history. Although his remains aren't here anymore since it was moved to Lisbon fourteen days after, it's involvement in history is what makes a visit to this church worthwhile. 
  • Kerala Kathakali Centre: Since you're in Kerala for the art, might as well learn more about the state's traditional form of art, the Kathakali. Delve into a storytelling experience that has been moving people for over four centuries. 
  • Go for a Walk: What better way to see a city than to walk around or ride a bicycle. The streetscapes of Fort Kochi are picturesque, with its cobblestoned roads and buildings of Dutch and Portuguese character, the culture clash of ambience and the locals, and more. Explore the nitty gritty details of Fort Kochi and see where your legs take you.
  • Cafe Hopping: After all the walking/cycling around, treat your taste buds as well as your eyes at the beautiful cafes. And they've got plenty of it too. So you can just spend one evening jumping cafes and eat to your heart's content with the city's delectable local cuisine and scintillating continental flavours. 
  • Dutch Spice Market: This market is located in Jew Town. Vasco Da Gama travelled across the globe to India for its spices. And this was the specific trade market. Give this market a visit and take home some spices some people would travel across the globe for. 

This post was published by Shalaka Sreekesh

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