India gets its second international art fair

New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) After the success of the India Art Summit in Delhi, the scene of action in contemporary art is shifting south with the announcement of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012, a mammoth exposition of international contemporary art, in Kerala.

A statement issued by the Kochi-Muziris Foundation Tuesday said the fair would be held in the Kochi port city on the scale of international art fairs.

A brainchild of Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari — two Kerala-born leading contemporary artists who left their native shores years ago, the biennale will showcase the best of Indian and international contemporary art with discussions, education sessions and corollary events themed on art. It will be modelled on the India Art Summit and the global art fairs.

The fair will be partnered by the Kochi-Muziris Foundation, a non-profit trust formed in 2010 that aims to highlight cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi.

The biennale will be spread across multiple venues in Kochi town and the adjoining port city, which was known as Muziris in early history.

The works on display will be a multimedia panorama of conventional art, films, installations, sculpture, new media and performance art. The biennale will also create a platform for debate by introducing ambitious contemporary international visual art practices and theory to India, showcasing new Indian and International art, and enabling a dialogue among public, artists, curators and visitors.

‘The regional contemporary art from Kerala will occupy a pride of place,’ the foundation said in its statement.

The exhibition will try to create linkages between the tangible built heritage of the ancient Jewish settlement of Muziris, which has been continuously inhabited since the pre-Christian era, and visual arts by using public spaces, heritage buildings and other non-traditional venues to display art.

The ancient port city of Kochi was once known for its busy spice trade and was the landing ground of the first Dutch settlers in southern India. It was also home to Jewish traders. The ancient town of Mattancherry in Kochi was the nerve centre of pepper and cardamom trade.

According to the organisers, the art fair is proposed to attract national tourism, cultural interest and promote social cohesion to project Kochi as a heritage and art tourism destination.

The event will be supported by the Kerala Tourism department, local and national stakeholders and creative industries.