2018, its the Biennale year once again

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale was a spectacluar cultural event and the third edition (12/12/2016 - 29/03/2017 ) of Indian biennale was rock solid with lots of amazing art forms and art work. This time also it remained true to its original founding principle, a biennale for the people, by the people. Auto Drivers, restaurant owners, and local people supported the biennale team to make it a great success.

As always, it was spread across Kochi, and out of 12 venues the primary art venue was at Aspinwall House, which is a large sea-facing property in Fort Kochi on the way to Mattancherry, which was originally the business premises of Aspinwall & Company Ltd established in 1867 by English trader John H Aspinwall. Under his leadership the company traded in coconut oil, pepper, timber, lemon grass oil, ginger, turmeric, spices, hides and later in coir, coffee, tea and rubber.The large compound contains office buildings, a residential bungalow and a number of warehouses and smaller outer-lying structures. Aspinwall has been loaned to Kochi-Muziris Biennale by DLF Limited in association with the Gujral Foundation.

Other venues were

1. Pepper House - Pepper House is a waterfront heritage property located on Kalvathi Road in between Fort Kochi and Bazar Road.

2. Kashi Art Cafe - An old Dutch property converted into a cafe by Anoop Scaria and Dorrie Younger, Kashi Art Cafe opened in 1997.

3. Cabral Yard - Towards the end of the 19th century Aspinwall & Company began trading in coir. In 1904 the company acquired the Cabral Yard property on which they constructed a hydraulic press for coir yarn. The property gets its name from Portuguese navigator Cabral, who made the first shipment of merchandise from Cochin in 1500 AD.

4. David Hall - Named after David Koder, a Jewish businessman who resided here with his family, David Hall is a Dutch bungalow built around 1695 by the Dutch East India Company, located on the north side of Parade Ground in Fort Kochi.

5. Durbar Hall - Set in the heart of Ernakulam city, near Kochi’s main railway station, Durbar Hall was built in the 1850s by the Maharaja of Cochin to host his Royal court. In the 150 years since then, the Hall has had many incarnations. Recent extensive renovation works by the Kochi Biennale Foundation have transformed the space into an international museum quality exhibition venue.

6. MAP Project Space - Lined alongside Bazar Road, which leads to Mattancherry, are structures dating back several hundred years, when the spice trade was at its peak. Built at a time when the Dutch ruled Cochin, these structures served as warehouses for the storage of spices. While several of them continue to be used, others remain dilapidated. The site is currently owned by Museum of Art and Photography, Bengaluru.

7. Anand Warehouse - Just a stone’s throw away from the historical Coonan Kurish Palli, Anand Warehouse is one of several of its kind dotted alongside Bazar Road, Mattancherry. The venue is also referred to as Gujarati Warehouse and stands as a testament to the Gujarati community that made this city their home around two centuries ago.

8. TKM Warehouse - Located at Kochangady, Mattancherry, TKM Warehouse is now the venue for co-founder Riyas Komu’s Uru Art Harbour, which he’s conceived as a centre for the arts. TKM Warehouse will also serve as the venue for the coming edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

9. Kashi Art Gallery - An ancient Portuguese structure on Napier Street, formerly occupied by an Anglo-Indian family, was acquired by Kashi Art Cafe as a dedicated gallery space and centre for cultural exchange and rechristened Kashi Art Gallery. The venue sits comfortably amidst a number of clothing stores like Fabindia and others.

10. Cochin Club - A bungalow set on a 3.5 acre plot, Cochin Club, formerly a colonial mansion, is now a luxury hotel with elegantly landscaped parks. For the Biennale, the narrow strip parallel to Cochin Club will be used as a venue.

11. Kottapuram Fort -Kottapuram Fort once served as a strategic position for the Portuguese, who built it in 1523 (it was named Cranganore Fort then), until it was captured by the Dutch in 1663. In the 18th century, the Fort was the site of much negotiation between the Dutch and Tipu Sultan, only to be bought by the then king of Travancore Ramavarma Dharmaraja in 1789, who saw the fort as imperative to safeguarding Travancore against invasion by the Mysore ruler. Kottapuram Fort is now part of the Muziris Heritage project initiated by the Government of Kerala.

This time, biennale showcased works by 97 artists from 31 countries. The theme, “Forming in the pupil of the eye,” was about using the sense of sight to experience multiplicities of the world.

Below are some of Daniele Galliano work in this edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016-'17

Daniele Galliano’s impressive paintings in blurry photographic realism depict crowds, figures and landscapes. He is preoccupied with the minutiae of daily existence, capturing ordinary people at work, leisure, in public spaces and during their intimate hours. The artist’s gaze also rests on individuals who populate the crowd as he establishes a relationship between an internal world and the external one. The disturbing visual sensation sometimes felt by the viewer, oscillating between myopia and dream, is reinforced by raw representation of subjects like pornography, or the anxiety of urban life. Daniele Galliano is a self taught artist who has been exhibiting his work since 1996. He has participated in several solo and group shows across Europe and has been a part of the Ninth Havana Biennale and the 53rd Venice Biennale. His works are included in major public and private collections such as the Galleria Civica d’arte Moderna and Contemporanea in Turin, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome and the MART of Trento and Rovereto.

The Russian collective AES+F’s “Défilé” is a high end fashion series of life-size photographs of dead bodies. An obsession with fashion, symbolizing temporality, can be seen as a way to deal with the fear of death. It is an ancient preoccupation, as can be seen in the elaborate rituals in Western and non-Western cultures associated with death. Humans have always attempted to decorate death, based in part with a desire to ward off death. It is this idea they intend on exploring in this project as shown below here.

Yardena Elhanan Kurulkar's Dance of Death creates a point of confrontation between life and death by mixing media with light bulbs. In Kurulkar's vision, the bulbs mark the date the artist's body came into being. He is an alumna of Sir J J School of Art, Mumbai. Dance of Death is all about the universality of death. It's the point where ultimate uncertainty becomes certainty and the absolute becomes nothingness.

And now its time to save the date of the next edition of Kochi Biennale ( 12/12/2018 - 29/03/19 ) curated by Anita Dube.

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Rahul Devakumar
Creative Media Studio

We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.


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