Biennale Making India Centre for Contemporary Art

With its unique assembly of beautifully installed exhibits, KMB-2014 continues to draw celebrities and makes India a centre for contemporary art.

Published: 24th December 2014 06:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th December 2014 08:06 AM   |  A+A-


KOCHI: The Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB) is making India an important centre for contemporary art with its unique assembly of beautifully installed exhibits with their well-chosen narration and materiality, internationally renowned curator-critic Okwui Enwezor said on Monday.

“The KMB-2014 feels incredibly familiar in a powerful way,” said the 51-year-old Nigerian, noting that 108-day festival took him back to the days of the Johannesburg Biennale which he curated in 1996, two years after the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

“It is as significant as what the Johannesburg biennale represented for me, because of the incredible freedom,” Enwezor said at a Let’s Talk programme organised at the main Aspinwall House venue as part of KMB-2014. “When I stand here today nearly two decades later and look out, it feels as if I am looking from here to Johannesburg. The KMB has the potential for a vital link between Asia and Africa.”

Ten days after it opened, KMB-14 continues to draw celebrities and, probably more vitally for the art crowd, key figures in the international contemporary art world, who interact with visitors through such programmes, and put a perspective on Kochi’s current position on the contemporary scene.In his lecture attended by key biennale figures and also actor Padmapriya at the new Umbrella Pavilion, Enwezor, who is one of the most powerful figures in the art world, said that the exhibition is a challenge that Kochi offers to the rest of India.

“The public here make the Biennale incredible. All the same, this Biennale, which features a conversation between the artists of India and artists from the world, provides the public with a new tool box of thinking and a new optic lens to the world,” said Enwezor, who divides much of his time between New York and Munich even as he has been curating and co-curating several groundbreaking exhibitions and eight biennales around the globe.KMB-14 director of programmes Riyas Komu said that Enwezor’s visit, who is the curator of the upcoming seven-month long Venice Biennale, was ‘one of the proudest moments for our biennale.’ “This shows that Kochi is becoming a site of engagement,” he added.

When Enwezor asked KMB-14 artistic director Jitish Kallat on his change of role from that of an artist, the curator from Mumbai joked, “I have befriended uncertainty.”

Padmapriya too spoke about the energy that the Biennale gets from people’s participation. “It is not the number of artists who are exhibiting that is important, but the number of visitors,” said the actor, who spent who spent the whole day at the venues with husband Jasmine Shah.


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