The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art held in Kochi, Kerala. It is the largest art exhibition in India and the biggest contemporary art festival in Asia. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an initiative of the Kochi Biennale Foundation with support from the Government of Kerala. The exhibition is set in spaces across Kochi, with shows being held in existing galleries, halls, and site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures. Indian and international artists exhibit artworks across a variety of mediums including film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art. Through the celebration of contemporary art from around the world, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historic cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris. Alongside the exhibition the Biennale offers a rich programme of talks, seminars, screenings, music, workshops and educational activities for school children and students.
Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India’s first ever biennial of international contemporary art and its story is unique to India’s current reality—it’s political, social and artistic landscape. It began as a government initiative, when the Department of Cultural Affairs of Government of Kerala approached two artists—Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari—to help organize an international platform for art in India. Since its inception in 2012, KMB has organically grown as ‘the people’s biennale’ (the last edition saw over five lakh visitors). Sprouting up in the heart of bustling Fort Kochi, India’s largest international art exhibition — with works showcased in everyday locales, from cafes and old warehouses to heritage properties like Aspinwall — has democratised what has long been thought of as an elite interest. While the fourth edition will go down as one with many firsts, most excited thing about is KMB’s first female curator, Delhi-based Anita Dube, and the fact that over 50% of participating artists are women, making it the majoritarian voice and women driven biennale.
The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, curated by Anita Dube and spread across 12 venues, saw a glorious kickstart on December 12 this year, would run over three months to conclude on March 29, 2019 exhibiting and contemplating the society, its past present and future through art, talks, conferences, performances, educational interventions, workshops, and other forms of wide public engagement.
In the Biennale led by its first woman curator Anita Dube and in which over 50% of the participating artists are women, there’s going to be more women power with the Kudumbashree workers gearing up to play a major role in it. The Kudumbashree activities will run through the whole length of the Biennale, 108 days, starting from December 12.
The Kudumbashree Mission will be a major food partner of the upcoming fourth edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale to be held from December 12 to March 29 at Fort Kochi. As part of its first step, an MoU has been signed between Kudumbashree executive director S Harikishore and Muziris Biennale foundation president Bose Krishnamachari in the presence of LSG Minister A C Moideen on Monday.
The food court staging the culinary skills of Kudumbashree women, culinary history of Keralite culture, rare recipes, local preparations and ethnic cuisines adds richness to the repertory of the Biennale. A special seminar on women empowerment is the highlight of the 90-day event. The video on Kudumbashree will be played at the venues daily. A selected range of Kudumbashree products will be at sale at Retail Counter at Aspinwall House. Kudumbashree women who are traditional artisans specialized in decorative items will be provided space at the biennale to show case live demonstration of their skills and will be facilitated to sell their craft works as they produce. The Rangashree Theatre Group of Kudumbashree will get an opportunity to stage their performance during the cultural events at the Grand Pavilion, Cabral Yard. The CDS representatives across the state along with interested Kudumbashree members will get an opportunity of having guided tour through the biennale with the support of Biennale Foundation.
‘Varayude Penma’, a unique art outreach initiative, which gave positive reviews in the last edition will be conducted in this 4th edition too. The initiative will see 42 Kudumbashree members – selected on the basis of artistic talent from across the state – participate in a four-day workshop from January 14-17 over which they will receive instruction and encouragement from professional artists and guided tours of Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) venues.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to be a project in appreciation of, and education about, artistic expression and its relationship with society and recognizing that KOCHI BIENNALE FOUNDATION promotes arts, education, learning and cultural activities of various kinds and is the organiser of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Whereas Kudumbashree is a model for women’s empowerment, collective voice and Kudumbashree seeks to promote cultural expressions of women, and that Kudumbashree’s intervention has increased women’s participation in public spaces,
Hence the agreement between, KOCHI BIENNALE FOUNDATION and Kudumbashree is very desirous and partnership in the 4th Biennale with the goal of convergence and cross-learning between the two partners
Facets of Association
- Official Food Partner – Food Outlet of Kudumbashree at Cabral Yard
- Product exhibition, sales and branding association – Retail Counter at Aspinwall House
- Live Demonstrations – Exposure for Kudumbashree women artisans
- Art Performance of Kudumbashree Theatre Groups during Cultural Events
- Videos of Kudumbashree’s sagas of Success screened at all venues and screens periodically
- Joint Seminar on Women Empowerment and Art
- Biennale - Guided tour for CDS representatives and selected members of Kudumbashree
The food court stages the culinary skills of Kudumbashree women, culinary history of Keralite culture, rare recipes, local preparations and ethnic cuisines adds richness to the repertory of the Biennale. Food court run by the Kudumbashree women will be at Cabral Yard, the focal point of the Kochi Muziris Biennale with its grand pavilion, a centre featuring their products and a live demonstration of craft. The Food Court also exhibit the renowned Kudumbashree model of entrepreneurship and empowerment, also the survival stories of flood hit, underprivileged and marginalized lives. A total of 20 units of Cafe Kudumbashree in 5 batches of 20 days each will cater tastes of Keralite Cuisines at the venue. The First batch of Cafe; Kudumbashree Units participating at the food court are the ones who were flood hit and received damages to their livelihood activities in the recent floods of Kerala.
The second batch of Cafe Kudumbashree units have started operations at the Cabral Yard from 10th January. Now the Cafe Kudumbashree food court serves hot and spicy Kasargodan Ethnic Snacks along with traditional beverages (tea and coffee) which are of Keralite origin. At each and every point of operation, the Cafe kudumbashree food court is an exhibit of empowerment, enthusiastic women,elegant culinary skills and also efficacy of ethnic savours. At Cabral Yard, you can see Amrita, hailing from Ernakulam, the leader of Laksya Cafe Kudumbashree unit engaged in making fresh fruit juices. She, a transgender, is a prime example of how Kudumbashree empowers the marginalised. You can experience around 30 different kinds of fruit juices from her team along with some unique combinations of gooseberry, beaten rice and flavoured sugar syrups. The cafe Kudumbashree food court is also characterised by Varsha Cafe Kudumbashree unit lead by Sajina and Nakshathra Cafe Kudumbashree unit lead by Lekxi, both hailing from Ernakulam. Come, feel and enjoy food, taste and ethnic recipes crafted by passionate women of Kudumbashree
“How about taking a souvenir of Biennale from Kudumbashree retail counter this time? How about buying to empower, buying she-made, homemade, quality products while being at biennale?”
Experience a pick of the selected Kudumbashree products at Biennale Retail Counter at Aspinwall House. A range of selected Kudumbashree products from across the state is at display and for sale. The Kudumbashree – Biennale Association brought out Biennale branded Kudumbashree products for the visitors to come, see and purchase. At the first phase, an assortment of Honey and Pickles will be at the counter for visitors to choose from; later the product range will be expanded to more categories as the sales pickup and as per customer preferences. Assortment of 7 different flavours of Honey and 7 different varieties of pickles are at store at Kudumbashree retail counter.
The KBF had forged a relationship with Kudumbashree, last year when it held a workshop ‘Varayude Penma’, followed by an exhibition, for women artists of the Kudumbashree. Of the most fascinating of the outreach programmes of the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) is the one it has shaped for hibernating artists among Kudumbashree women. Some 42 artists selected by the Mission received training in art at an instructional workshop, ‘Varayude Penma’, organised in the initial days of Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016. The women, three from each district, were hand-picked on the basis of their artistic talent. Varayude Penma was a 10-day residential art workshop at Pepper House, Fort Kochi for members of the Kudumbashree Mission. Around thirty women from all districts of Kerala were part of this workshop. Artists Valsan Kolleri, Jalaja PS, Jaya PS anchored the workshop, and were supported by artists C Bhagyanath, Anupama Elias and Anju Acharya. The workshop was organised by the Kudumbashree Mission and the Kochi Biennale Foundation in December.
The KBF and the Kudumbashree Mission has now agreed on terms to scale up the project to integrate them into the Pepper House Residency. The residency will culminate in a show of their works at Pepper House itself. For the Biennale, it is an important social intervention and a tool to empower women who would otherwise be doing household work, mostly tailored for their gender role.