The much-awaited fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) – one of South Asia’s top arts initiatives that has put India on the global contemporary art map – has been postponed to November 1, 2021 due to the raging pandemic. Bose Krishnamachari, Biennale Director, tells The Morning Standard about the unfavourable conditions in Kerala that led to this decision and participating Delhi-based art entities.
What led you to postpone KMB just one month before the opening date?
The decision to postpone the date of opening was taken at the beginning of this month, but was made public only after we had spoken to all of our artists. We were at a point where we had to commence production of the exhibition to be able to open in December – but given the second spike of cases in Kerala, we knew we would encounter issues with shipping and logistics, prolonged travel restrictions and generally unfavourable conditions on ground. That’s why we decided to move the date of opening to next year.
What kind of monetary losses Kochi Biennale has to forfeit as the event is now postponed?
The participation of our artists is at times supported by grants provided by various cultural organisations. These grants have a validity period of about one year. But, we are in touch with all our partner organisations regarding a deferment of these grants.
Is there a way Kochi Biennale can provide aid to the supporting staff ?
Our education programmes, including the Students’ Bienna le, Art By Children programme and other workshops for young practitioners, will continue as usual, though with adaptations for the coronavirus situation. The office will therefore continue to function.
Could you tell us about galleries and artists from Delhi who are participating?
So far, we have released a first list of artists who will be participating in the upcoming edition. Arpita Singh, represented by Vadehra Art Gallery, Seher Shah, represented by Nature Morte and filmmaker and artist Priya Seen, based out of Delhi will be participating.
How did you tailor Students’ Biennale for online viewing?
The online Students’ Biennale includes an exhibition forum as well as workshop programmes. Similar to the physical format we have followed for previous editions, applications are invited through an open call and selection is carried out by a team of curators. All components of the exhibition, including communication between students and curators, and those working towards the display process will be carried out online. The students will also receive technical and documentation inputs to work with the digital medium. In addition to the exhibition platform, a parallel programme of workshops will also be organised for participants and other students. The workshops will be realised by the Students’ Biennale curators along with guest faculties.