India’s first-ever biennale opened to the public on December 12 spread across multiple venues in the coastal city of Kochi in Kerala. Once a vital stop on the spice route, where a confluence of cultures, religions and nationalities converged, present-day Kochi, it was hoped, would once again become a trading place for ideas by hosting this international biennale.
A number of heritage sites were secured by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, and almost 100 artists were invited to participate, the vast majority of whom were from India. Sadly a number of venues weren’t completed in time, entire rooms were left unoccupied, and unopened wooden cartons containing recently shipped artwork were a common sight.
Despite the multiple logistical setbacks and some minor protests about large budgets being directed toward a contemporary art event rather than toward local developmental issues, the international art fraternity still arrived in droves to see the artworks, many of which had been created specifically for the biennale after artists conducted research trips to Kochi over the summer. These photographs showcase some of the most engaging (and finished) works on display, the opening ceremony and the concert by singer MIA.