Kochi: A month from now, the city Kochi by the Arabian Sea will be host to yet another shift in the history of Indian art, as the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) starts on December 12, featuring a dynamic range of artwork, along with curated programming in the fields of cinema, performance, as well as seminars and workshops.

Curated by eminent artist Anita Dube around the theme of ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’, the 108-day Biennale held across nine venues will feature a total of 95 artist projects. Slated to conclude on March 29 next year, the Biennale will be held across heritage venues in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, as well as Durbar Hall in downtown Ernakulam. The major art event comes only four months after Kerala was ravaged by its worst natural calamity in a century, affirming the state’s resilience following the tragic floods and landslides.

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“While preparation has been key,” Dube points out, “my vision for the Biennale can only be actualised with the active participation of the public.” Dube, who mastered in fine arts from the famed Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, continued: “We are working at full capacity to create the structures that I hope everyone can claim, by listening, sharing, and speaking.”

KBF co-founder Bose Krishnamachari, who is president of the Biennale Foundation, describes Dube as a ‘thinking artist’ with a profound sensitivity towards materials, incorporating everyday objects derived from informal, craft and, industrial sources and spaces. “Her oeuvre features both knowledgeable consideration and skillful melding of the sensibilities and styles of abstractions with real, contemporary concerns. This will without a doubt be reflected in her curation,” adds Krishnamachari, who was a co-curator of the first Biennale, held in 2012.

A particularly exciting aspect of the Biennale is the team of 20 dedicated Art Mediators that will be resident in Kochi through the span of the event. Especially trained by the Foundation, the Mediators will be giving guided tours of the exhibition at set times every day free of charge, in both English and Malayalam. Visitors can also purchase personal guided tours with a dedicated Mediator should they choose. The exhibition will be spread across nine Biennale venues: Aspinwall House, Durbar Hall, Pepper House, Cabral Yard (Biennale Pavilion), David Hall, Kashi Town House, Uru Art Harbour, Dutch Warehouse, and Anand Warehouse.

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There will also be an exciting set of ancillary events during the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018. These include the Let’s Talk series, of presentations and discussions by artists and thinkers, Artists’ Cinema, that presents curated packages of films, and the Music of Muziris concert series, showcasing a wide range of traditional and contemporary music acts, including the Three Seas Project, T M Krishna, Imphal Talkies, and Insurrections Ensemble, amongst many others.

An ongoing two-month Graffiti Residency, running until December 15, is part of the Pepper House Residency, brings life to the public walls of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. The many artists-in-residence from throughout this year will return to Kochi to re-install their work as part of a parallel residency exhibition. 

Last month, Riyas Komu stepped down from all his managerial positions at KMB following allegations of sexual misconduct as part of the #MeToo movement.