Fort Kochi might be doused in different shades painted by artists from around the world but the celebrations will be as much outside as inside the heritage venues of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Like the organisers put it: “The Biennale will be a complete celebration of the arts”.
Even as artists install their work in the heritage sites, preparations are on for a larger festivity. In his studio, Peruvanam Kuttan Marar and his troupe are finalising an appropriate piece to be played for the opening of the festival, that will have not just the Padma Shri winner’s drums and percussion, but over a span of three months several other traditional art forms. Curated by Keli Ramachandran, these include Panchavadyam, Ottanthullal, Chavittunatakam, Daffmuttu and Oppana.
The centenary of nihilistic movement in the arts, Dada, will also be marked through a project in collaboration with Pro Helvetia. Titled “Dada 100”, the aim is to “delve into Zurich’s cultural history to foster and develop further the city’s cultural heritage”.
Photographer Nihaal Faizal’s Ummijaan – Making Visible a World Within will be introspective. Selected from hundreds of photographs from family albums taken by his great grandmother, Haleema Hashim, between 1950 and 1970, Faizal has curated a collection that makes visible domestic and social life in the Kutchi Memon community settled in Kochi during the first few decades following Independence. “By reclaiming personal memory and family history they also offer us an alternative understanding of the practice of photography in the subcontinent and also of the gender norms in a Muslim community in mid-20th century India,” says Faizal.
There will be motion picture too. “Artists’ Cinema” promises to bring the most interesting video art from around the world to Kochi. The programme for each week, over 100 days, will be headed by a new curator, “allowing a diversity of styles and visions to come together”.
While the seminar series “History Now” will propel discussions on a range of subjects, there are other interactive sessions lined up, as well. Book launches are slated, and providing a different perspective of the “artists’ books” will be Amit Kumar Jain curating “Reading Room”, where artists will be invited to add to the current collection of book art, with anything from books with doodles to carvings or even innovative foldings — art, after all, is all encompassing.
Kochi-Muziris Biennale begins on December 12