Shared journey and destinies: how the Kochi-Muziris Biennale creates a collective artistic experience
From one of India’s largest art festivals, we present more outstanding artworks and artist insights. Enjoy, share, visit!
Sunday April 09, 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 685 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, now in its fifth edition, is themed In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire. The 15 large venues showcase works by artists from over 80 countries around the world.
“Our co-mingled virtual futures are inextricable from the transmission of knowledge, ideas and capital, and so too are we subject to neoliberal infiltration and control,” Biennale curator Shubigi Rao explains.
The artworks of the Biennale depict themes ranging from nature and urban habitats to gender and racial justice. In this photo essay, we showcase artists such as Samson Young (interactive music installation), Nathalie Muchamad (labour circulation with trade), and Santhi EN (chronicles of childhood games).
“I am really proud to have taken part in this Biennale,” says artist Jean-François Boclé, in a chat with YourStory. He grew up in Martinique, and is now based in Paris. His practice mixes poetic writing with installations, paintings, sculptures, videos, and photographs.
“India is a brother country for Martinique and Guadeloupe because we have many descendants of Indian indentured workers in the Caribbean, from the time of colonisation,” he says.
“I myself have Asian origins. This is not my first exhibition in India but my first at the Biennale,” he adds. His artworks are priced from Eur 1,000 (for drawings) to Eur 60,000 (installations).
Jean-François has also participated in the Colombo Biennale, Havana Biennale, and Dakar Biennale (Senegal). “So you can imagine how happy I am to exhibit at the Kochi Biennale,” he enthuses.
“In these events that bring together up to a hundred artists, a whole family of artists meets again. We live across the world far from each other, and it is great to be together,” he adds.
Jean-François has won acclaim for his installations like Tears of Banana Man. It is in the shape of a human body and is made from 300 bananas. “It refers to the many deaths caused by banana companies, including massacres in plantations,” he describes.
See also 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).
Other artists showcased in this photo essay include Zina Saro-Wiwa (antelope-inspired costumes from Nigeria), Shahidul Alam (photographic works at Mocha Art Café), Jacinta Kerketta (poetry installation), and Vivek Vilasini (photography).
The scenic locations of the Biennale venue warehouses on the waterfront of the Fort Kochi area provide stunning views in between art walks. Nature and galleries dovetail to create a unique artistic experience, notwithstanding the hot and humid weather.
“I am not a big fan of super commercial art events. My favorite events are the more localised art events that take place around the world, especially during summer,” explains artist-designer Annah Chakola, who has created the first official shop for the Biennale.
She is also the founder of Annahmol, a line of handcrafted jewelry, clothing, bags, and accessories. A world traveler, she spent many years in the US before returning to India.
“I have been to so many art events over the years. They all gave me something to take away,” 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.)
See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.
Edited by Megha Reddy