Creativity begins with youth–how India’s largest art festival honoured and recognised student artworks

In this photo essay from the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, we present more creative displays and artist insights on art appreciation. Read, enjoy, share!

Creativity begins with youth–how India’s largest art festival honoured and recognised student artworks

Sunday April 16, 2023,

4 min Read

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 690 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

For the artistic movement to survive and thrive in the long term, art appreciation and involvement by youth is key. The fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which wrapped up this week, has encouraged the participation of youth by continuing the tradition of the Students' Biennale.

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The Students’ Biennale was first launched in the 2014 edition, with the works of students from 35 government-run art colleges in 19 states in India. This year, P. Rajeev, Kerala’s Minister for Industries, Law and Coir, announced the Students’ Biennale Awards.

See our earlier six-part photo essay series on the fourth edition of the Biennale here, as well as coverage of the Aichi Triennale (Japan) and Bangkok Biennale (Thailand).

The three artists selected for the Tata Trusts Students’ Biennale International Awards this year are: M Thamshangpha (Voices 1, Voices 2) from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda; Ashish Phaldesai (In search of gold we lost nature) from Goa College of Art, Goa; and Celin Jacob V (Series of Nine works) from Government College of Fine Arts Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.

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Awards were also won by Malik Irtiza (In search of apples, almonds and cherries) from Dr BR Ambedkar University, Delhi; and Lakshya Bhargava (Into the visibility) from Chitrakala Parishath, Bengaluru. Honorable mentions went to Maya Mima (Looking around, looking back) from Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati University, Shantiniketan; and Rokesh Patil (Unity) from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.

In this photo essay, we showcase some of the artworks from Pepper House, and Students’ Biennale venues like Trivandrum House. We also feature exhibitions on the victims of conflict, and the curation Memories of Home, at the David Hall.

Themed In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire, the 15 large venues of the Biennale showcased works on inclusivity, existence, and resilience. Curator Shubigi Rao questions the concept of inviolability of borders and denial of the diffusion of languages and ideas, of storytelling and sharing.

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“The difference here is the rejection of the narrative as singular, choosing instead an embracing of submerged and manifold stories, and where, how, and through whose agencies they diverge,” she explains.

“I believe that reaching a very young audience is the best way to increase art appreciation in society,” Martinique artist Jean-François Boclé emphasises, in a chat with YourStory.

“Children have fewer ruts than adults, and less resistance to love,” he describes. He has worked in slums in France as well as in prisons, with minors and adults.

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“It is very important to me that this activity is part of my responsibility as an artist,” Jean-François affirms.

“Art appreciation can be improved by creating more art events that are accessible to everyone. Expose the masses,” suggests artist-designer Annah Chakola, who also created the first official shop for the Biennale.

“In India, such exposure might look like putting more funding into public art events with a larger reach," she says.

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"When we give the majority of India a chance to see and create their own stories and understanding, we learn to dig deep. That its where the magic happens,” she explains.

“That is what I love about the Kochi Biennale. It is one of the only global public art events that I feel has a true democratic nature to it,” Annah signs off.


Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?


(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the Biennale.)

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