Fear lurks as Kochi gears up to play host for Biennale Foundation

While the announcement brings cheer to tourism and hospitality sector, apprehensions remain over the realistic chances of holding the signature event this year amid Covid

Published: 23rd July 2020 07:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2020 07:01 AM   |  A+A-

An installation put up during the 2016 Kochi Biennale.

Express News Service

KOCHI: Lifting the spirit of Kochi amid the gloom cast by the pandemic, the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) on Tuesday announced the first list of artists who will take part in 2020 Kochi-Muziris Biennale: In our Veins Flow Ink and Fire. While the knowledge that India’s biggest art fiesta would be back brings cheer to the ailing tourism and art sectors, apprehensions remain over how conducive the situation is in Kochi, which is in the thick of the battle against Covid-19.

While Bose Krishnamachari, founder member and president of Kochi Biennale Foundation, says the health of the visitors, staff, artists and volunteers are the priority and the foundation will go ahead with the Biennale only if they feel measures for health and safety can be put in place. However, stakeholders think the art fiesta can do a lot in reviving the local economy, which has hit the rock bottom with the pandemic. 
The task won’t be easy at all. The Covid protocol and travel ban all over the world are likely to play spoilsport. Even if the flight services are restored, the quarantine norms would deter many. 

People listening to Anitha Dube, the curator of 2018 Biennale

However,, the KBF is optimistic about footfall. “Art professionals, including international visitors, are an important audience for the Biennale. However, they do not form the majority of our visitors. We would like foreign artists, curators, museum professionals, collectors etc to come, but we are also mindful of our principal visitorship,” says Bose. 

According to the Tourism Department officials, while it would work as per the government instructions, any step towards promoting Biennale can only be done as per Covid protocol. “We are not a part of the decision-making process. If the Biennale is on, the department would promote it. But we are apprehensive about how the Covid protocol will allow the conduct of the art fest since the last few editions saw a lot of footfall, which would essentially make social distancing impossible,” says Shahul Hameed, joint director, Tourism Department, Ernakulam.


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