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India’s first international contemporary visual arts festival

India’s inaugural festival of international contemporary visual arts, Kochi‐Muziris Biennale, is set to debut next year. The Biennale, a non‐profit endeavour, will take place in the state of Kerala in the city of Kochi and Muziris region in 2012. Partnering with the Muziris Heritage Foundation the Biennale will celebrate India’s rich cultural and social heritage as well as exhibit contemporary international art.

Co‐founded by two of India’s leading artists, Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, Kochi‐Muziris Biennale is being organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, a registered Trust established in 2010.

Kochi‐Muziris Biennale will be the largest contemporary public art event in the country, and is a first for India in terms of scale and ambition. To be held every other year, the project will showcase artwork created by some of the world’s most engaging artists, both established and emerging, from India and abroad. The exhibition will present a variety of mediums from film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art.

The Biennale aims to create a platform for debate by introducing ambitious contemporary international visual art practices and theory to India, showcase new Indian and International art, enabling a dialogue among the public, artists, curators and local & international visitors. As well as providing an opportunity to elevate Indian art to an international level, the project will increase accessibility to the arts and will introduce new artistic expressions to visitors.

Kochi‐Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historical cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor the ancient port Muziris. Through the celebration of contemporary art and the Kerala region, the Biennale will present artworks throughout Kochi and Muziris in existing exhibition sites, public spaces, heritage buildings and other non‐traditional venues. Alongside the exhibitions the Kochi Biennale Foundation will organise an extensive public programme of seminars, workshops and a comprehensive and far‐reaching educational programme.

The festival aims to stimulate national tourism, cultural interest and social cohesion. In collaboration with the Kerala Tourism Department, local and national stakeholders and creative industries, the Biennale will do this through:

  • developing cultural and social awareness through education
  • developing visual arts practices and theory in Kochi and India
  • developing cultural tourism by attracting national and international visitors to the festival engaging with the local communities
  • becoming a catalyst for regeneration and urban development

The official Declaration launch of the Biennale was held at Durbar Hall Ground, Kochi, on Thursday 17 February 2011, 6pm. The event was officially declared by the then Minister of Education and Culture Mr. M. A. Baby in the presence of ministers, senior government officials, senior artists, scholars, critics and the public. The launch was followed by a performance by the band Avial, and Panchari Melam by Padmashri Peruvanam Kuttan Marar, supported by 180 artists, in a live audio‐visual percussion concert.

Partly funded by the state government, the project presents a number of opportunities for corporations, both international and regional, to promote their brands across various activities of the Biennale. The foundation welcomes interest from companies looking to support a cultural initiative from its inception and a team is in place to customise a sponsorship package tailored to individual needs and budgets.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Kochi‐Muziris Biennale is being organised by Kochi Biennale Foundation, a registered Trust established in 2010, founded by leading Kerala artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu.

The other trustees of the Foundation are:

  • Dr. Venu V, Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala
  • Sajan Peter, Secretary, Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala
  • Rani George, Director, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala
  • P. K. Hormis Tharakan, former chief, RAW, former National Security Advisory Board member, former DGP
  • K. Subhas Chandran, former Director (programmes), NCPA, Mumbai
  • Jose Dominic, Managing Director, CGH Earth
  • Sunil V, Creative Director, Wieden + Kennedy
  • Bonny Thomas, writer/cartoonist.

Bose Krishnamachari (Artistic Director of the inaugural Biennale)

Born 1963, Kerala. Lives and works in Mumbai.

Artist and curator Bose Krishnamachari has a diverse artistic and curatorial practice that includes drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, furniture, design, video installation and architecture. His artistic endeavors plumb creative depths to give contemporary Indian art a nouvelle direction.

Krishnamachari has exhibited in several important solo and group exhibitions including ‘Gateway Bombay’ at the Peabody Essex Museum (USA, 2007), ‘Indian Highway’ at the Serpentine Gallery, The Astrup Fearnley Museum in Norway (Oslo, Norway, 2009), the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Denmark, the Lyon Contemporary Art Museum (France, 2011) and has an upcoming exhibition at the MAXXI museum for contemporary art, Rome. His curatorial projects include the seminal exhibition ‘The Bombay Boys’ (Delhi, 2004), the travelling project, ‘Double-Enders’ (2005), LaVA (Laboratory of Audio Visual Arts) (2007) and ‘guest curator’ at the Indian pavilion of ARCO-Madrid (Spain, 2009). In 2009 Krishnamachari created Gallery BMB in South Mumbai with a vision to bring the best national and international art to India.

Riyas Komu (Director of Programmes of the inaugural Biennale)

Born in 1971, Kerala. Lives and works in Mumbai and Kerala.

Riyas Komu’s critically acclaimed works have been exhibited extensively in India and abroad, which include several key works that focus on the political and cultural history of Kerala. His works are part of the larger narrative of the making and unmaking of artistic influences.

In 2007 he was one of two artists from India to be selected by curator Robert Storr for the Venice Biennale. Recent exhibitions include shows at the GEM Museum for Contemporary Art (The Hague, The Netherlands 2009), The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Oslo, Norway, 2009), the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (Shanghai, China, 2009) and the Gwangju Emerging Asian Artists Exhibition (Gwangju, Korea, 2010). He is the first Indian artist to hold a solo exhibition in Iran (Azad Art Gallery, 2010). Significant works focusing on football include ‘Mark Him’, with the Indian National Football team and ‘Left Legs’ with the Iraqi National Football team (2008/2010). His work is currently on view at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, as part of their ‘Paris-Delhi-Bombay’ exhibition.

 
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