Three months ago, Bose Krishnamachari, the president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), had gone to a jewellery shop in Angamaly to buy a gift for a cousin’s wedding. He had been a regular, over the years, at the shop. At that time, controversy was raging in the media about whether there has been financial skullduggery by the Biennale organisers. And the impact could be seen in the store’s employees, who were no longer welcoming. “They looked at me as if I was some sort of a thief,” says Bose. “I felt disappointed but I was not worried. I knew I had done nothing wrong.”
Today, on the eve of the conclusion of the first-ever Biennale in India, Bose and his team - Riyas Komu (KBF secretary), Boney Thomas (Trustee), and a host of others - have been vindicated. “There has been a tremendous acceptance of the Biennale by the people,” says Bose. “I was enriched by the unexpected compliments, excitement, and sharing by ordinary people, as well as the celebrities. Now there is a new word that the people have learnt to say, apart from ‘Biennale’, and that is called ‘installation’.” The artistic sensibility has been heightened. “The people have started noticing a wire lying on the road, or a piece of grass,” says Bose. “There is a pride, right from the auto-rickshaw driver to the elite, that Kochi is now a Biennale city.”
Indeed, the show has received positive notices all over the world. What has been most remarkable for Westerners is the fact that two artists, Bose and Riyas, had a vision and against the most difficult of odds, established the show.
In all this excitement, of being in the public eye, Bose has missed out on his family life. “I have been away from home (in Mumbai) for more than two years now,” he says. “My children, Aaryan, 9, and Kannaki, 6, and my wife Radhika yearn for my presence. Biennale has been such a big responsibility.”
Once the Biennale concludes today, Bose will begin work on the selection of the next curator for the 2014 edition. This small and unassuming Malayali, with a charming smile, has made a giant impact in the world of art. A true hero of our times!