An international exhibition of contemporary art, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale started in 2012 as the lead occasion of the KMB Foundation with the support of the government of Kerala. Known as the most significant art exhibition of India, the Kochi Biennale is set around different areas of Kochi including galleries, heritage buildings, public parks, halls, and other spaces. A mix of Indian as well as international artists, all with very different experiences in art, come together to present their artworks in the form of films, paintings, photographs sculptures, sketches, fashion exhibits, music, dance, drama and many more. These exhibits are carefully curated by different professionals every year. Running for three months, every alternate year, Kochi Biennale is now its fourth edition.
Kochi-Muziris Biennale Dates
12th December 2018 to 29th March 2019
Kochi-Muziris Biennale Ticket Price & Timings
Adults - INR 100
Children (0 - 15 years) - INR 50
Timings for Ticket Counters
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Kochi Muziris Biennale Venues
The Biennale takes place at different venues from December 2018- March 2019. These places are centered around Mattancherry a small town in Fort Kochi. They are mostly heritage spaces that have been preserved and refurbished for the sole purpose of this exhibition.
The Venues for Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018 - 2019 are:
Kashi Art Cafe
Kashi Town House
Map Project Space
The Kochi Muziris Biennale Foundation
M.A. Baby, the former culture minister of Kerala, approached artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyaz Komu to start an international art festival in the state. India lacked an international platform for contemporary art until 2010, and hence, the KMB Foundation was founded by Bose and Riyaz. This foundation aims to promote art and culture in India, primarily focusing on the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
The first Biennale started on 12th December 2012 which hosted 80 artists, around 40 of which were international. In the initial few days of the fest, the entry was kept free, which later became INR 50 to raise funds. Socio-economically and culturally, Kochi rose to a whole other level for art lovers with around 2,000 visitors per day of the festival. Being an artist in India was never much encouraged before. It wasn't' a part of the ideal career list and artists usually got a side-eye. However, many art exhibitions across the country, notably the Kochi Biennale has crossed everyone's expectations and has brought in a new sense of encouragement for contemporary artists.
About Kochi Muziris Biennale
The Biennale is not only about exhibits and audience consuming the art and culture, but there are also multiple talk shows, film screenings, seminars, workshops, and other activities for adults as well as school and college children. The festival helps the audience to be fully indulged in being a participant of the art and culture around them.
Over the years, the Biennale has become more inclusive, featuring more women and artists from the LGBTQ community. This year, the festival has its first female curator, Delhi-based Anita Dube, adding one more proof to how inclusive this space has become. Since its inception, the festival has included marginalized Dalit and tribal artists from all around the country too.
A lot of art has started being more socially relevant than just abstract. Topics like racism, sexism, religious intolerance, violence, LGBTQ rights, education, and environmental concerns are only a few among the many issues that are widely being covered in the form of art. The festival is designed in a lovely way where children and adults can imagine and interpret every artwork in their way.
With the recent Kerala floods and the #MeToo controversy, the fourth edition of the Biennale would've had many challenges, but with it being organically supported by the people, it has fought past them. The foundation's primary intentions this year are to raise funds and contribute to relief efforts after the massive level of destruction that Kerala faced in the August 2018 floods. Part of the festival money and money raised from multiple art auctions would be used to build houses that were destroyed.
Events at the Biennale
1) Let's Talk is a series of talks and seminars by exceptional people like artists, historians, activists, writers, teachers and many more. 2) Master Practice Studios programme include intensive workshops by professionals that provide practitioners with an opportunity to learn and work on skills. Some of the workshops are non-fiction comic workshop and painting workshop among others. These usually take place between June to October. 3) Artists' Cinema is a curated film festival that screens different genres of films, followed by talks and workshops. 4) Art by Children is an event dedicated to children's artworks created during workshops that were conducted in schools across Kerala. 5) Arts and Medicine include weekly performances by musicians across Kerala at the General Hospital, promoting a healing community environment. 6) Music of Muziris is a bunch of performances by traditional and contemporary musicians.
Concept and Artists at the Biennale
The concept for the 2018-19 Biennale is 'Possibilities for a non-alienated life.' According to curator Anita Dube, the virtual connectivity that we have has alienated us from the warmth of a community where love flows freely, and there is no 'enemy.' She wants the Biennale to have exhibits where ideas seem to be flowing without judgment, where there is no hierarchy and where every artist is given equal respect. The artworks and performances should give a glimpse of a 'non-alienated life.'
Some of the famous Indian artists being showcased or performing at the Biennale are Afrah Shafiq, Anju Dodiya, Arun Kumar HG, Jitish Kallat, K.P. Krishnakumar, Mochu + Suvani Suri, Shilpa Gupta, Sunil Gupta + Charan Singh, Satheesh PR. Some of the famous international artists are Aernout Mik (Netherlands), Akram Zaatari (Lebanon), Heri Dono (Indonesia), Tania Bruguera (Cuba), Thomas Hirschhorn (Switzerland), Vivian Caccuri (Brazil), William Kentridge (South Africa).
Kochi Muziris Biennale Volunteer
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale has many volunteering opportunities as they require volunteers across venues to handle the events. The different teams for volunteers to assist are Production, Communications, Video, and Photography, Programmes. To fill out the application form, visit their official site: kochimuzirisbiennale.org/volunteer/
Witnessing a footfall of around 5 lakh in its third edition, we can only imagine what the fourth edition brings. Head to Kochi now to experience the Kochi-Muziris Biennale celebrate contemporary art and the spirit of the culture in today's India.
A feast to the eyes - the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is one such event that never disappoints! It is situated around the areas of Fort Kochi - Mattancherry, where various heritage sites and buildings showcase the exhibition. One can gain access to these areas by both road and water-ways (Ernakulam boat jetty). The Aspinwall & David Hall are the top-rated picks of Biennale. So, tighten your seat belts all art lovers, to explore this paradise of contemporary art! Also,carry plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and fit throughout your sight-seeing.