KOCHI: The Kochi-Muziris Biennale-2014 stays clear of snob appeal, while its location is highly relevant and part of the success, according to Swiss Ambassador to India Dr Linus von Castelmur, who said that the 108-day festival was a perfect forum to foster cultural exchange between the two nations.
Simultaneously, Norwegian Ambassador Eivind S Homme said, “the Biennale could be the beginning of another beginning. Spread across eight venues in the city, the event inspires us to think in new ways. We feel challenged,” he noted.
After a visit to the key venues of the 108-day event, Homme expressed hope that Switzerland’s support to the Biennale could increase exchange between India and Switzerland, whose policy is to interact in politics, science, research and arts.
“For Switzerland, with a population of eight million, it is important to have a grasp on the evolution of this enormous and culturally rich country that is quickly evolving into a beacon of contemporary art,” said Dr von Castelmur, who was keen on building more of an outreach through active partnership with the KMB-14. “The Biennale builds a higher level of consciousness. We are proud to be partner to it, and it is in our interest to do so,” he added.
The other day, Pro-Helvetia Zurich’s head of liaison offices Jasper Walgrave presented a selection of Parkett journals to Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) president Bose Krishnamachari, secretary Riyas Komu and curator Jitish Kallat at the Pepper House reading room.
Published in Zurich, the 30-year-old Parkett is considered as ‘collectors’ items’ in the international art circuit. It has been created in direct collaboration with international artists. Of the 92 journals published to date, 55 were presented for the KBF collection. Parkett reviewed the first edition of the KMB in its early 2014 issue, and the upcoming issue will feature exhibiting Biennale artist Dayanita Singh.
In fact, the Pro Helvetia-Swiss Arts Council has worked with the Biennale over the past year, arranging meetings for Kallat with fellow curators and gallerists at Art Basel in Switzerland. The Swiss Arts Council is also sponsoring the works of Swiss artists Marie Velardi, Christian Waldvogel and Julian Charriere at the exhibition. Further, Swiss graphic designer Mirjam Fischer was collaborating for the KMB-14 short guide. In order to further intensify relations between the two countries, the Pro Helvetia offers and organises residencies for Indian artists in Switzerland and for Swiss artists in India.
The Swiss envoy recalled that the first Biennale was of a high quality, and that by choosing rightly pertinent themes, the KMB-14 could be one of the best in the world.
“I am thrilled with the outcome of the partnership. ‘Whorled Explorations’ is focused, allows liberty of expression and thrives on artistic pluralism,” said the Ambassador. Terming KMB-14 as almost perfect, Ambassador von Castelmur added, “it has a vigorous selection with good mix of Indian and international artists. But, it is refreshing to see that it does not promote coteries.”
Komu noted how Kerala was currently active ‘in building cultural relations through the Biennale’. “These countries are seriously extending engagements through cultural interventions. And, Kerala is figuring in big-time by organising art and residency programmes,” he said. On his part, Homme, who has served in India since 2012, said, “cultural diplomacy makes for new ways of meeting, and giving and getting something in return. Norway and India have strong cultural partnership with exchange of musicians and literature. This could be another meeting point, where we can discuss and learn together,” he added.
Homme also reminisced over a historic connection his country has had with Kerala. That was in 1952, when India was overcome by a disastrous food crisis caused by widespread natural calamity, and the Scandinavian country allotted Rs 10 crore to a fisheries project that lasted 20 years.