Sunday, December 2, 2012

A grand art event that takes a cue from the global biennales

Slated to be held in various historic venues in Kerala, The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is a significant development on the contemporary art of India. The vision of its futuristic organizers, set to come into reality, envisions India’s first major biennale event of a global scale and scope, emulating those in Berlin, Liverpool, Venice and Dakar. They intend a grand showcase of projects, events and exhibitions involving world renowned artists across a wide variety of mediums like painting, sculpture, installation, new media, film and performance art.

The Biennale is essentially a reminder of glorious history. It looks to connect modern art practices to the heritage of Kochi as well as its mythical past. The history of the port alongside the Muziris Heritage or conservation project will infuse meaning and enhanced value to the entire showcase. Muziris area, specifically Kodungallur and Paravur, will serve as sites for public displays of sculptures. Kochi is among the few Indian cities where pre-colonial traditions of captivating cultural pluralism still flourish. They pre-date the post-Enlightenment concepts of cultural pluralism, multiculturalism and globalization that can be traced to Muziris.

The site is currently under excavation, and it’s vital to explore and also retrieve the past memories in context of the present status, in order to posit alternatives to cultural and political discourses emanating from the specific histories of America and Europe. With it, a dialogue for a new aesthetics and politics deeply enmeshed in the very Indian experience, albeit open to the winds blowing in from far-away worlds, is well possible, the organizers believe.

The KMB communications director, Michelangelo Bendandi, has been quoted as saying “The biennale is a multi-discipline festival of contemporary art, and it is city-wide, so the artists participating are not restricted to the large enclosed venues. Murals, street art, sound pieces and projections will be located in public places around the city, not just at biennale venues.”

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