Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022-23. What one of the world's biggest art biennales has in store for you?
To the west of Kochi, Ernakulam there's a serene seaside town called Fort Kochi a.k.a the Queen of Arabian Sea. Dyed with the Portugese, the Dutch and the British architectural handprints, Fort Kochi stands as a coalescence of diverse cultures. Pristine waters of the sea, wonderful heritage structures, historic forts and churches reflecting European architecture, dapper cafés - oh! What do I speak about a place that writes beautiful poetry with its elegance! The place is a standalone testimony of colonialism and bears till date, the relics of the Portugese and the Dutch regimes.
Fort Kochi is a hotbed for various activities of high artistic and cultural richness. If someone said 'Kochi comes alive through Art streets', it's not an exaggeration, for the streets of Fort Kochi are no less than a lavish visual treat with enthralling street murals keeping you under their spell. Especially, during the days of Kochi Biennale, the place decks itself up to keep the tourists, visitors, artists and art-lovers hypnotized with its artistic brilliance. Art lovers from across the world flock to this place to immerse in the ripples of national and international art.
This year, the fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennele 2022-23 has begun after a wait of four long years. Beginning from December 23, 2022, this one of the world's biggest biennales runs till April 10, 2023. We got our entry tickets for the world's famous biennale and were all set to dip into the colours of life. The afternoon sun was burning us down, yet a hat on my head and art on the streets kept us going. We reached the Aspinwall House, the Biennele's main venue.
A singaporean artist Shubigi Rao curated this year's biennale that presented the artworks of 90 artists from around the world. The theme of the art exhibition "In our veins flow ink and fire" resonates with the very state the world is currently in. Traversing from the pandemic only to face the bitterness of the war, alarming climate crisis and a massive global recession, the theme of the biennale sits well into the current scenario that bespeaks courage in catastrophe. A momento of twenty-five feet tall tail art welcomes the visitors at the entrance of Aspinwall House. Born out of the creative hands of artist Smitha GS, the tail hosts original acrylic painting and hides in it, the microcosm of tiny creatures alongside the mightiness of hills and landscapes. Our very first step into the venue painted a picture of the rest of our journey into the artistic valley.
We got our tickets scanned for approval and made our way into the expanse of the Aspinwall House. There was silence on everyone's lips while the music emerged only from the magnificent pieces of displayed art. With the crests and troughs of the sea in the background, the colours and strokes told the stories of pain, struggle, resilience and audacity. Renowned artists like Zhanna Kadyrova, Jithish Kallat, and Massinissa Selmani haven't failed to string the nerves of art lovers. Every artwork spoke volumes about the artist, their native, their oppression and emergence. Alongside big names from across the world, several Indian and local artists from Kerala also displayed their work at the biennale. Additionally, the works of students from 22 various art learning centres across India took the spotlight.
The afternoon heat has been so unkind on our skin but the artworks have got everything to cool our heads down. Ranging from massive artistic installations to insightful documentaries, every illustration talked about collective human experiences and struggles. Film works by Pakistani artist Madiha Aijaz, Vasudevan Akkitham's 'An Almanac of a Lost Year’, Asim Waqif's 'Improvise', a site specific bamboo installation, Haegue Yang's 'Sonic droplets - Steel buds' consisting of more than one lakh steel bells - every artwork desperately projected how societies had to adapt themselves to the changing technological and economic conditions brought about by expansionism, industrialisation and globalisation.
The mentions are just a few drops in the vast artistic ocean that my pen allowed me to ink here. To relish every drop of it, the biennale has its doors open until 10th of April, 2023. To take a glimpse of the world art and to comprehend the bond between arts and society, Kochi-Muziris Biennele is where you should be today. Few things can't be spoken of, they're to be felt.