The opening of this year’s edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale has been postponed. The Kochi Biennale Foundation team announced the news via social media last night, just before the event was due to open its doors – citing a variety of organizational challenges, compounded by external factors, including ongoing structural repair work and bad weather conditions. While this affects the main exhibition venues of Aspinwall House, Anand Warehouse and Pepper House, various associated events including talks program and satellite exhibitions will take place this week as scheduled.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale was to have opened in Kochi on 12th December and run until 10 April 2023. It will now open on 23 December \”due to a variety of organizational challenges, compounded by external factors\”, organizers say via social media. These include \”adverse weather, a lack of timely access to the main venue, shipping delays, higher travel and logistical costs\”. The biennial has already faced major delays and hurdles due to Covid-19.
Sharan Apparao, the curator of Apparao Galleries, said that KBF should have announced the postponement of the main event at least two weeks ago. “So many of us have lost money on tickets and bookings. Even if it was muddy and slushy and not fully ready, people would have still come [if it was under way]. The spirit is to show solidarity, and that’s what the whole art world believes in. All of us know that the show always settles down only after the first couple of weeks. This is fine because it is an artist-run biennale, not a fully-funded corporate event. I think this is a lesson to everybody who is doing these big, major events in the art world to understand that we can’t always do ‘wow’ things. We have to learn to cut our coats according to our cloth. Bringing practicality into the art world is very important,” Ms. Apparao said.
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An art critic from Mumbai who is a regular at KMB rued that the biennale was just squandering away its cultural capital. “It is 10 years of goodwill they are losing with this mismanagement. I’m in Fort Kochi now and only 10 of the 90 artists are on display. So obviously, the artists are upset. It didn’t have to be this way,” he said.
The decision to postpone was made following a meeting held yesterday afternoon among the biennial’s organizers and its participating artists, who concluded that the exhibition should open only once all works are fully installed. Scheduled to originally open in 2020 and delayed twice due to the pandemic, the Biennale is in its fifth edition. Curated by Singapore-based Indian-origin artist Shubigi Rao, it will feature works of 90 artists from across the globe presented under the central exhibition titled “In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire”. Some of the prominent names include Vivan Sundaram, Amar Kanwar, Arpita Singh, Nasreen Mohamedi, Rita Khin from Myanmar, Haegue Yang from South Korea, Thao-Nguyen Phan from Vietnam, and Joan Jonas from the US.