On March 3, the government of Kerala announced that the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), India’s first biennial of contemporary art, will receive a permanent venue for its future editions. Following a longstanding request from the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), which organizes the Biennale, the government plans to acquire five acres of land from a private party in Fort Kochi for the KMB’s new space, which will include Cabral Yard and Aspinwall House, two of the current venues for the Biennale.
Since its inauguration in 2012, the KMB has served as a platform for introducing contemporary art to India and for facilitating dialogues among curators, artists and the local community. In a press release, Bose Krishnamachari, KBF president and KMB 2012 co-curator said, “Our prime aim is to make art and culture a part of our education system, and we have been rolling out a number of initiatives to achieve that goal. The latest budget allocation shows the confidence the state has in us and that is a great recognition.”
The Kerala government is recognized as the KMB’s biggest supporter. For the current edition, the Biennale received INR 75 million (approximately USD 1.1 million) from the government. KBF will receive an additional INR 20 million (approximately USD 300,000) as a working fund for the 2017–18 financial year.
The third iteration of the KMB, entitled “Forming in the Pupil of an Eye” is currently underway and features 97 artists from more than 31 countries. Curated by Mumbai-based artist, Sudarshan Shetty, KMB 2016 follows the tradition of having artists at its helm, with mutimedia artist Jitish Kallat as artistic director in 2014. Shetty is a conceptual artist known for his sculptural installations that raise questions surrounding the rapid modernization of India.
It is hoped that this new permanent venue as well as the additional support from the government will help to raise the profile of the event. “The Biennale creates an ecosystem to nurture the arts and the government, in sustaining such a project, has recognized it to be so,” said KBF secretary, Riyas Komu, who was also co-curator of KMB’s inaugural edition.