Kochi Muziris Biennale – Where Art Meets Heritage!

Kochi Muziris Biennale started in 2012 in Kochi which is the most vibrant city in Kerala. It is the commercial hub of Kerala and also fondly called the Queen of Arabian Sea. Kochi Biennale is a unique concept the aim of which was to promote the contemporary arts and culture. It is actually the first its kind in India and one of the best exhibitions held in the country. Kerala government appointed two famous curators and artists named Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, who are the main members of Kochi Biennale Foundation. It was a big challenge for everyone since there was no infrastructure, space or support from any other institution than the government to run this event on a global scale. But the government and Kochi Biennale Foundation took it as a big challenge and made Kochi Muziris Biennale into reality.

The Glorious Muziris Era

Most of the communities from outside India came into the country through Kochi and settled here for the business of spices. Kochi is one of the cities where cultural pluralism and pre-colonial traditions are still maintained. In the 14th century, there was a harbor called Muziris which is supposed to be the oldest and richest ports in India. Muziris was supposedly known as the seaway to the Europe. Many countries used to trade gold, silver, precious jewels, weapons, utensils, china-wear, silk etc for the precious spices, herbs, cashew nuts and cotton through the port. But a massive flood destroyed the entire port and the area vanished inside the sea or mud. The Archaeological department was able to trace many proofs of this harbor.

The Biennale

Kochi Biennale photo
mural as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale by Elroy Serrao under CC BY-SA 2.0

The main aim of Kochi Muziris Biennale was to bring into play the latent international spirit of the contemporary city of Kochi and its glorious past, Muziris. They wanted to make a display place to set up a modern global visual art platform and discuss new Indian and worldwide aesthetics and art awareness and allow a conversation between the public, curators, and the artists. The Kochi Muziris Biennale sought to create a new language of modernity and cosmopolitanism that is deep-seated in the living experience of this aged trading harbor of more than six centuries.

After getting the support from government and other institutions, in 2012, the first Kochi Biennale was held. Exhibitions are conducted in different locations of Kochi. The whole island is decorated to welcome the artists and tourists. Galleries, unused buildings, halls and other public places in and around Fort Kochi become venues for exhibitions of different types. International and Indian artists, sculptors, musician, painters and film personalities all come with their art forms and experience to entertain the audience. You could see many foreigners attending this function and many of them are regular. Some of the sculptures and structures made by the artists will make you wonder about their caliber and imagination. Kochi Biennale continues for more than 100 days.

What do you get to explore in Kochi Muziris Biennale?

Kochi Biennale photo
First India Biennale- Kochi by United Creativity under CC BY 2.0

Kochi Biennale invites many reputed artists, actors, authors, musicians, painters, sculptors and others who are famous and experienced in arts and cultural activities for open talks and discussions for new-generation artists. You can attend many talk shows, screenings of classic movies, seminars, music, activities for kids and workshops alongside the exhibitions of Kochi Muziris Biennale. You can see artists from around the world visiting the Biennale. During these 3 months of the biennale, Kochi will be in the limelight of the Artistic world. Everyone should experience the Kochi Biennale at least once in their lifetime.

For the first edition of Biennale, the expense was around 16 crores and for the second edition, the expense was more than 17 crores. Kerala government was not able to give more than 3 crores, but with help of sponsors, online funding and public funding made this Biennale a heart-warming artistic experience for art-lovers from across the world. Four to five lakh visitors visit the Biennale every time. Kerala tourism department, private tour operates and other companies put up their stalls here to get national and international exposure. It is the best place to showcase you to the public and get noticed by more than 5 lakh visitors and through other media. Many artists from Kerala and another part of the world put their effort every year to make this event successful. Every year, the Kochi Biennale Foundation selects different renowned artist as curator for the Kochi Biennale.

The Kochi Muziris Biennale looks forward to being a mission in approval of, and education about, creative expression and its association with humanity. It strives to be an innovative space and a bright voice that guard the independence of the artist and their chase to continuously recreate the world we live in.

Featured Photo: Feeling Art at Kochi-Muziris Biennale by paandu under CC BY-SA 2.0

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