Indian contemporary artist Anita Dube has been named the curator for the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), beginning December 2018. The selection is in keeping with the Biennale’s long-standing tradition of being an exhibition helmed by an artist.

The announcement was made at the closing ceremony of KMB 2016 on March 29 in Kochi. It followed deliberations by a high-powered panel composed of artists Velu Viswanadhan, Dayanita Singh, and Ravi Agarwal, academic and writer, Kavita Singh, cultural journalist and curator, Sadanand Menon, writer and curator, Sarat Maharaj, and Kochi Biennale Foundation trustees, V Sunil, Riyas Komu, and Bose Krishnamachari; which decided to bring Dube’s unique insights and sensibilities to the Biennale—the largest celebration of contemporary art in South Asia.

“Through three editions, KMB has gained a reputation for being one of the most important exhibitions of its kind around the world. It is an honour and a very big challenge to be declared curator of this wonderful platform. I am delighted that the jurors thought I can deliver. I accept the responsibility with excitement and humility. It is early days yet and my thoughts will no doubt undergo several changes going forward, but I view this as an opportunity to do something special,” said Dube, who was present at the function.

Dube takes over from Sudarshan Shetty, whose curatorship of the third edition of India’s only Biennale drew over 600,000 visitors.

An art historian and critic by training and a visual and performance artist in practice, Dube’s conceptually-rich, politically-charged works have been widely exhibited, including at the first KMB in 2012. Her practice uses objects and industrial materials, performance and text to critique contemporary socio-political realities.

Her aesthetic idiom, in many ways, reflects her background as a member of the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association—a short-lived but hugely influential collection of artists and art students who rebelled against what they perceived to be the commodification of art in India.

Describing Dube as a “thinking artist,” KMB co-founder Bose Krishnamachari said, “Anita’s sensitivity towards materials, incorporating everyday objects derived from informal, craft and industrial sources and spaces, is profound. As is her wordplay and use of media, gestures and imagery—all of which will make for varied experiences and resonances in a space as adaptive and accommodating as the Biennale. Her oeuvre features both knowledgeable consideration and skillful melding of the sensibilities and styles of abstractions with real, contemporary concerns. This will doubtless be reflected in her curatorial vision.”

Dube is also a board member at KHOJ, an international artists’ association she co-founded in 1997 in New Delhi. Over two decades, the initiative that began as a modest annual workshop has become one of the most important platforms shining a global spotlight on South Asian art, organising and hosting international “itinerant” workshops, residencies and exhibitions.

“Anita’s selection not only reinforces our commitment to having artists at the helm, but also our mission to address contemporary social-political-cultural concerns. Anita is a strong proponent of making art accessible to the public through effective political and social engagement. This is precisely what the Biennale tries to do,” KBF Secretary Riyas Komu said.

Dube’s select solo exhibitions include Yours Disparately (Nature Morte, New Delhi, 2014), Chance Pieces (Nature Morte, Berlin, 2013), Eye, etc. (Lakeeren Gallery, Mumbai, 2013), Babel (Galerie Dominique Fiat, Paris, 2011), Kal (Lakeeren Gallery, Mumbai, 2010), Phantoms of Liberty (Galerie Almine Rech, Paris, 2007), Illegal (Nature Morte, New Delhi; Bose Pacia, New York, Gallery SKE, Bangalore, 2005), You Tell What You Know Down Here Girl (Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai, 1999), Desire Garden (Community Hall, Apartmenrs, New Delhi, 1992).

Her works have been presented at Biennale Jogja XI (Indonesia, 2011), 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2009), iCon: India Contemporary, Venice Biennale (Collateral, 2005), Yokohama Triennale (Japan, 2001) and the 7th Havana Biennial (Cuba, 2000). Dube also participated in the groundbreaking 2009 exhibition, Indian Highway, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones and Gunnar B. Kvaran.

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