The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art held in Kochi, Kerala. It is the first Biennale being held in India. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an initiative of the Kochi-Biennale Foundation with support from the Government of Kerala .The Kochi Biennale Foundation is also engaged in the conservation of heritage properties and monuments and the upliftment of traditional forms of art and culture. KBF was founded in 2010 by artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu .The exhibition was set in spaces across Kochi, Muziris and surrounding islands. The shows were held in existing galleries and halls, and site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures.
With the support of the government, private patrons, and local businesses the Biennale found the spaces and opened them up for art. The Indian art community has been growing rapidly and has been emerging onto the world stage, and the international arts community offered their support in sending art and artists to participate in Kochi. Artists became the spokespersons and activists for the biennale.
Indian and international artists exhibits artworks across a variety of mediums including film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art. Alongside the exhibition the Biennale offers a rich programme of talks, seminars, screenings, music, workshops and educational activities for school children and students.
The curator for 2016 edition of biennale is Sudarshan Shetty, was born in Mangalore in 1961, with his family moving to Bombay within a few months of his birth. He has since been based in Bombay. His father, Adve Vasu Shetty, was a Yakshagana performer and Sudarshan says there was “a lot of music and singing in the house” when he was growing up. He studied painting at the Sir JJ School of Art, Bombay and graduated in 1985. His art practice has evolved over three decades from being centred on painting to multi-media explorations that include sculpture, video, performance and installation. Experimenting with scale and motion, Sudarshan’s works frequently involve bringing together heterogeneous object-worlds, insinuating into the familiar an intimation of the strange and the new.
Shetty feels that the Kochi Biennale has helped in a critical way to break the myth of art being some sort of elitist concern. “I have seen busloads of people arrive at both previous Biennales and engage with the art in rapt attention. It’s the people’s involvement with the Biennale that has made it a national event.” He adds that the Biennale takes great pains to reach out to young people, via such initiatives as the Student’s Biennale and the cadre of youthful volunteers.
Set to open on December 12, 2016, it will run for 108 days till March 29, 2017.