Media reporting about Biennale has advanced from initial ‘imagined criticisms’ to ‘constructive criticisms’, said Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Muziris Biennale Foundation (KMBF).
Hinting that an influential section of media had initially collaborated with certain vested interests in art to come up with ‘imagined criticisms’ he said, “Certain basic principles in journalism like cross checking of facts and accuracy have been violated in the ‘imagined criticisms’”.
“I deliberately use the word ‘imagined criticisms’ because most of them were largely ignorant about the developments in contemporary art. While some reports pictured Biennale as an international conspiracy,some went onto say that the art works exhibited were of inferior quality. The painful fact was that none of them had the courtesy to give our version. The veteran journalist, Sashi Kumar told me that the initial witch-hunting of Biennale by a section of media can be a good case study in journalism courses”, Bose elaborated.
Bose pointed out that Biennale had literally shook the conservative art patriarchs in Kerala by “destroying the feudalism in the realm of art”. “Most of the contemporary art works exhibited in Biennale are immensely political. They ruthlessly critique social and economic inequalities and negotiate with roots of power. Biennale provided an opportunity for Malayalees to appreciate the contemporary art”.
“A section of senior artists who were spearheading the campaign were in fact living in a terrain created by feudalism. A large number of them are hierarchical and feudal in their world view. Some of them believe that art is just for art sake. Many of the contemporary artists will not agree with this. This was evident from Kochi Biennale, where artists used their works of art to document the oppressions by capitalism, state terrorism, patriarchal violence and so on”.
The mainstay of Biennale also said that in contrary to the public conception that only intellectuals can understand art, the art works exhibited in Biennale were enjoyed by school students and intellectuals alike. “Students enjoyed it because they were not prejudiced. Some of the observations made by students were really touching”, Bose said.
“I’m sure that Biennale has generated significant sociological, cultural and economic changes. Biennale has rejuvenated the cultural tourism which was at the receiving end because of economic recession. T M Thomas Isaac, former finance minister and T K A Nair, adviser to the prime minister have already mentioned about the contribution of Biennale in the revival of our economy”, he said.
“We had to really struggle. Sometimes it was very painful. But I feel that pain was a historical necessity”, Bose signed off with a winner’s smile.