Since its inception in 2012, the Kochi Muziris Biennale has been in search of a permanent venue. The Aspinwall House, a waterfront building in Fort Kochi dating back to 1867, has been the main venue since the first edition and lends itself to an avant-garde show. Owned by the Delhi-based realty firm DLF, the building is hired for the four months of the KMB and is closed for the rest of the year. As a result, it requires maintenance work and substantial sprucing up ahead of the biennale. Tourism director P.B. Nooh says that State government has been actively trying to acquire Aspinwall House. “The issue of a permanent venue for KMB will soon be sorted,” he said, adding that the property if acquired, will belong to the Tourism department and be used for related cultural events.
However, applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act filed by Raju Vazhakkala to Ernakulam District Collector, Culture Minister, and the Chief Minister’s Office seeking details pertaining to the discussions to acquire Aspinwall House elicited the response that no information pertaining to the same was available.
While the main exhibition curated by Shubigi Rao will be held across three venues, Aspinwall House, Pepper House and Anand Warehouse, 13 other venues will host invited exhibitions and the Students’ Biennale. The Durbar Hall will host a curated show of Kerala artists.
The Pavilion is one of the most interesting spaces in the show. This temporary structure erected at Cabral Yard hosts talks, seminars and performances and has always been a conversation piece because of its distinctive architecture and design. Mumbai-based architect Samira Rathod, who heads the design and construction for this edition, says she was inspired by the roof of the warehouses in Kochi as a starting point. The structure will seat 100 to 150 people and also includes a space for children and a cafe.
The Pavilion will be created using used materials sourced from the debris of a building next door, broken pieces from a quarry for flooring, dismantlable steel … all of which can be reused later. “It is a temporary structure and should be sustainable,” says Rathod adding that the “poetry of light and breeze” will come from shutters that will open like the wings in the wall. At its highest point, the structure will be 30 feet.
One of the flagship programmes of the KMB, the Student’s Biennale (SB) will be held at four venues — Trivandrum Warehouse in Jew Town, VKL Warehouse, KVN Arcade, and Armaan Building in Bazaar Road in Mattancherry. Curated by seven individuals and collectives, the exhibition will show 75 projects from 60 art schools from across India. “Every region is 100% represented,” says Mario D’Souza, Director programmes.
Blaise Joseph, heading ABC (Art By Children) programme for children from Classes V to IX shares news of the opening of two art rooms in government schools at Njarakkal and Kadamakkudy. “We have plans to open art rooms in schools in rural areas and in residential societies in the urban space,“ says Blaise who designs the art modules.