India’s first Bienniale

India's first Bienniale, Kochi, Kerala / photo by Kathleen Kyllo

Last year, after participating for the first time in Venice’s Biennale, India started its own Biennale in Kochi last month. Featuring more than 80 artists, the Kochi Muziris Biennale is the largest international contemporary art event ever to take place in India. Throughout Kerala’s 2nd largest city, galleries, warehouses and public lots have been transformed into creative venues for film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art.

According to an interview with BBC:  “India very badly needed a space where there was a meeting of art, that brought contemporary art to more people,” says Riyas Komu, who conceived the idea for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale along with Mumbai-based artist Bose Krishnamachari.

Today, while walking through the diverse port city, we stumbled across a site specific piece by Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty in what appeared at first glance to be an abandoned lot. Within his installation, i know nothing of the end , a large hand carved wooden monument stands within a pit. Playing with the unanswered questions of archeological finds, a long unpunctuated sentence is read along the surface online blackjack screenshot of objects posing as artifacts, describing a single moment while its significance remains unknown. While we were there children came and left on bicycles. Tourists and viewers walked about at their own pace. Though there are tickets for sale at one of the sites there is no one to collect them or monitor admission. On the contrary the art exists everywhere; painted on shutters and muraled on walls.

Sudarshan Shetty at Kochi Biennale/photo by Kathleen Kyllo

 

Later, while searching for coffee we found another Biennale venue in David Hall, a dutch bungalow turned gallery/cafe. In addition to hosting events in the gorgeous backyard, the first room is full of art books for browsing. It is the perfect haven for travelers abroad in a country where books like these are few and far between. All in all, the organizers were wonderfully successful in creating a festival atmosphere that encourages the casual passerby to participate, almost without meaning to.

David Hall gallery and cafe in Kochi/ photo by Kathleen Kyllo

 

Kochi Muziris Biennale 

December 12th, 2012-March 13th, 2013

 

Kathleen

Kathleen is Brooklyn-based writer who works in research, poetry and music.

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