Announcement of India’s first international contemporary visual arts Biennale Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012.

Kochi Biennale Foundation is delighted to announce the establishment of India’s inaugural festival of international contemporary visual arts, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The Biennale, a non-profit endeavor, will take place in Kochi and Muziris in 2012. Partnering with the Muziris Heritage Foundation the Biennale will celebrate India’s rich cultural and social heritage.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale will be the largest contemporary public art event in the country. To be held every other year, the project will showcase artwork created by some of the world’s most engaging artists, both established and emerging, from India and abroad. The exhibition will present a variety of mediums from film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historical cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor the ancient port Muziris. The Biennale aims to create a platform for debate by introducing ambitious contemporary international visual art practices and theory to India, showcase new Indian and International art, enabling a dialogue among the public, artists, curators and local & international visitors.

Through the celebration of contemporary art and the Kerala region, the Biennale will present artworks throughout Kochi and Muziris in existing exhibition sites, public spaces, heritage buildings and other non-traditional venues. Alongside the exhibitions the Kochi Biennale Foundation will organise an extensive public programme of seminars, workshops and a comprehensive and far-reaching educational program.

The festival aims to stimulate national tourism, cultural interest and social cohesion. In collaboration with the Kerala Tourism Department, local and national stakeholders and creative industries, the Biennale will do this through:

• developing cultural and social awareness through education • developing visual arts practices and theory in Kochi and India • developing cultural tourism by attracting national and international visitors to the festival • engaging with the local communities • becoming a catalyst for regeneration and urban development

The official Declaration launch of the Biennale was held at Durbar Hall Ground, Kochi, on Thursday 17 February 2011, 6pm. The event was officially declared by Hon. Education and Cultural Minister, Mr. M.A. Baby in the presence of ministers, senior government officials, senior artists, scholars, critics and the public. The launch was followed by a performance by the band Avial, and Panchari Melam by Padma Shri Peruvanam Kuttan Marar, supported by 150 artists, in a live audio-visual percussion concert.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is being organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, a registered Trust established in 2010, founded by leading Kerala artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu.

The other trustees of the Foundation are: Dr Venu V, Secretary (Culture and Tourism), Government of Kerala M. Sivasankar, Director, Tourism, Government of Kerala P. K. Hormis Tharakan, former chief, RAW, former National Security Advisory Board member, former DGP K. Subhas Chandran, former Director (programmes), NCPA, Mumbai Jose Dominic, Managing Director, CGH Earth Sunil V, Creative Director, Wieden + Kennedy Bonny Thomas, writer/cartoonist.

Bose Krishnamachari Artistic Director of the inaugural Biennale. (Born 1963, Kerala. Lives and works in Mumbai).

Artist and art activist Bose Krishnamachari’s diverse artistic and curatorial practice include drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, furniture, design, installation and architecture. His artistic endeavors plumb creative depths to give contemporary Indian art a nouvelle direction.

Krishnamachari has exhibited in several important solo and group exhibitions including ‘Gateway Bombay’ at the Peabody Essex Museum (2007), ‘Indian Highway’ at the Serpentine Gallery, the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Norway, the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Denmark and the Lyon Contemporary Art Museum. His curatorial projects include the seminal exhibition ‘The Bombay Boys’ (2004), the travelling project, ‘Double-Enders’ (2005), LaVA (Laboratory of Audio Visual Arts) (2007) and ‘guest curator’ at the Indian pavilion of ARCO-Madrid (2009). In 2009 Krishnamachari created Gallery BMB in South Mumbai with a vision to bring the best national and international art to India.

Riyas Komu Artistic Director of the inaugural Biennale. (Born in 1971, Kerala. Lives and works in Mumbai and Kerala).

Riyas Komu’s critically acclaimed works have been exhibited extensively in India and abroad, which include several key works that focus on the political and cultural history of Kerala. His works are part of the larger narrative of the making and unmaking of artistic influences.

In 2007 he was one of two artists from India to be selected by curator Robert Storr for the Venice Biennale. Recent exhibitions include shows at the GEM Museum for Contemporary Art (The Hague, The Netherlands, 2009), The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Oslo, Norway, 2009), the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (Shanghai, China, 2009) and the Gwangju Emerging Asian Artists Exhibition (Gwangju, Korea, 2010). He is the first Indian artist to hold a solo exhibition in Iran (Azad Art Gallery, 2010). Significant works focusing on football include ‘Mark Him’, with the Indian National Football team and ‘Left Legs’ with the Iraqi National Football team (2008/2010). Later this year his work will be exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, as part of their India Exhibition.