Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India’s largest contemporary art exhibition, that is held every two years in Fort Kochi, Kerala, is underway. The festival’s fourth edition features an off-beat project called ‘Edible Archives’, that is serving art on a plate, literally.
Anita Dube, the Biennale’s 2018 curator, says the three food projects at Fort Kochi this year keep with the event’s core theme: Possibilities of a Non-Alienated Life. “If you are tired and hungry, how will you have the energy to look at the beautiful works on display?” she says. “My exploration has been about ways in which we can engage with each other. Food, too, is integral to coming together.”
The famous Cabral Yard has two food projects: one at Cabral Yard, a community cafe by the Kerala government’s women-empowering Kudumbashree volunteers; the second, a Biennale infra-project called ‘Edible Archives’, where caterer-author Prima Kurien and chef Anumitra Ghosh Dastidar is facilitating cooks to experiment with indigenous rice. Across the road, at Aspinwall, artist Vipin Dhanurdharan is serving traditional dishes from communities of Fort Kochi-Mattancherry in an open kitchen that promotes community dining.
Pointing out that cuisine, like art, has the ability to communicate the values and culture behind a people, Foundation President Bose Krishnamachari in a press statement said, “For me, everything is art. Good food, like good art, is the essence of its environment. Food can create memories and evoke distinct feelings. It is a more intimate art, as it incorporates all the senses.”
Apart from indulging in culinary taste, the festival is also making an attempt to bring traditional cooking methods to the fore, where the chefs can showcase their “skills rooted in their own journeys and culinary traditions”.
“The Biennale, as I see it, will be a celebration of coming together and learning”, Dube says.