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Expect ecology, Global South at Kochi Biennale 2020

Bhubaneswar, Feb 9 (IANSlife) With Singaporean-Indian curator Shubigi Rao, taking over as curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2020, get set to see more research-based projects this time.

“Her own work is very research based. Also, she is looking at ecological issues and is quite interested in Global South, so we can look forward to a lot more projects from Latin America and Africa, and not just North America and Europe,” Bose Krishnamachari, the founder member and President of Kochi Biennale Foundation and Biennale Director of Kochi-Muziris Biennale tells IANS.

Ask Bose, who recently had a major exhibition in Kolkata if the logistics involved with the massive Biennale affects his own work, and he asserts that though it does, but it’s a great learning for him.

“Biennale is also art making thing for me. The whole process of working with people and creating a collective community is immensely creatively enriching, ” says the artist, who was attending the 2-day 13 th International Film Festival on Art and Artists organised by JD Centre of Art in Bhubaneswar.

Stressing that the Biennale will never sell its property, unlike some festivals in the country, Bose elaborates, “We welcome support from the private sector, and have been getting it too. However, ours will always be Kochi-Muziris Biennale. We believe it’s made by people and for the people. CSR support from different companies does come in and many cultural institutions are also tied up with us.”

Attributing the success of the Biennale to the local population across classes too, the artist feels that it is important to create enthusiasm among local public towards art.

“You have to make them comfortable. We have been able to erase the borders of elitist way of exhibiting, and made everybody welcome. Abroad you spend 25 Euros for entering a biennale;

here we charge only Rs 50 or Rs 100 for adults. We didn’t want it to be for free, so that it is not taken for granted. However, entry remains free on Mondays, and we have 20 mediators that take people around. Point is, you need to constantly work towards that enthusiasm.”

Talk about the fact that China is creating a 26 square kilometres Shanghai International Art City while India doesn’t even have a museum in every state, and Bose points, “It’s not that the country can’t fund it. When we can spend Rs. 3000 crore for a statue, what is stopping us from

distributing that kind of an amount among all the states and UT’s for a museum? The government and bureaucracy need to realise that culture is the only power we have. Not investing in that is bound to have negative ramifications.”

While stressing that it is important to seek advice and approach experts in museum making and cultural institution making from across the world, and hold competitions, Bose adds, “That is a way better approach than giving contracts to someone who has powerful connections, right? At the

Biennale, we always believe in seeking expertise of the best regardless of geography.”

The Mumbai-based artist feels that living in that city has been a great education for him. “Extremities exist in that space. That’s my philosophy also – maximalism and minimalism in art. I’ve lived there for decades and each individual I’ve spent time with — artists, musicians and theatre people have always offered lots. Life in all its shades resides there -the absurdity, the contradiction. So I can see the co-existence of so many lives and avatars in Mumbai. It’s an inspiring space when everyday you can invent something from the invented. That city is like a process making machine.”

Stressing that the idea of Shantiniketan needs to be implemented everywhere with more conversation spaces and places for kids to practice the arts, Bose adds, “We may not have many museums, but there is so much heritage all around. What is stopping schools and other educational institutions to take students there regularly?”

Now looking at ways to support young practitioners, the artist, talking about the Students’ Biennale says, “Last year, we also produced the work of the selected students and gave them Rs 25,000 each.”

Calling upon other states to start small art festivals, Bose says that it is paramount to have committed people with a passion to passion for making something for the country. I never thought that I making

something only for Kochi.

A major reason for the success of Kochi Biennale is that the foundation gets some part of the funds from the government; the rest is raised by us. Though the state does the auditing, but they never taken away our autonomy on the creative side. Every state government should be ready to give that. Several senior bureaucrats from other states come and visit but then they have to take it further… It’s not just the idea that matters. A PPP model can really work.”




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