UK artists at Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016

About Kochi-Muziris Biennale 

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016, curated by eminent Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty, is set to be the largest event of its kind in South Asia. Titled Forming in the pupil of an eye, the Biennale will run for 108 days from 12 December, 2016 until 29 March, 2017.

This year over 97 artists will participate in the Biennale. The opening of the Biennale on 12 December will mark the start of over three months of cultural activities in Kochi, which range from:

  • Students’ Biennale
  • Art by Children
  • Artists’ Cinema
  • Art Workshops
  • Pepper House Residency Exhibition
  • Master Practice Studios
  • Collateral Programmes
  • Young Residency

Seven artists from the UK will be showcasing an original piece of artwork at this year's edition of the Biennale. See below, for more information on their works.

About the curator's vision 

Curator Sudarshan Shetty’s vision for the 2016 Biennale draws from mythical accounts of India as the "land of seven rivers." Looking at motifs such as tradition and community, Shetty asks: "What does it mean to be together in time—to be contemporary?" In the short video above, Sudarshan talks about his vision for KMB 2016.

In keeping with its curatorial vision, this edition of the Biennale attempts to question and blur the boundaries that categorise the various disciplines of artistic expression.

KMB 2016 will feature works by visual artists, poets, musicians and performance professionals from diverse cultural and artistic traditions. 

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale uses heritage properties, public spaces, and galleries in Fort Kochi and Ernakulam. The KMB 2016 venues will include Aspinwall House, Pepper House, David Hall, and Durbar Hall.

The schedule of events for December 2016 is attached below. 

Hanna Tuulikki

Medium: Installation, video and performance

Project description:  Hanna Tuulikki’s SOURCEMOUTH : LIQUIDBODY is an audiovisual installation that features an innovative visual-score, and a suite of films incorporating choreography, vocal composition, and costume. The installation flows between gesture and sound, inspired by the mnemonic landscapes of India and the relationship between river-systems and the human body. 

Hanna is also participating in a series of private workshops with Kapila Venu and she is in the process of developing choreography for a performance-to-camera piece. Hanna sees this process as a valuable cross-cultural and cross-practice exchange.

Venue: Pepper House: First floor.

Charles Avery

Medium: Drawings and public intervention

Project description: Charles Avery’s proposal for the 3rd edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale represents a singular opportunity for the artist to position his fictional city of Onomatopoeia, with its multifarious expressions of philosophical and religious doctrines, in the context of Kochi, a city manifested and compounded by cultural and religious pluralism.

This pluralism, animated through the architecture and urban fabric of Kochi, acts as an exceptional  ground plane for a two part presentation - an extensive series of posters to be dispersed across the public spaces of Kochi together with an exhibition of large-scale drawings works for the Aspinwall space.

Avery’s project will be in two parts: Part 1: Posters City wide

Fly-posted  across the urban fabric of Kochi; its city walls, construction site barricades, building facades and alleyways, will be multiple posters advertising the eternal dialectic, a manifold debate that endures throughout the ages in the bars and cafes of the fictional  town, Onomatopoeia. Every philosophical creed and belief is represented, interplaying with the multi-cultural texture of Kochi. A collection of sixteen or more original poster designs would be reproduced  by local screen-printing studios as an extensive run of fly posters. The posters would be distributed  across the city by a team of local volunteers, pasting of posters would be phased across the duration of the Biennale. This pace allowing time for an assimilation of Avery’s imagery into the surface texture of the city generating a lived and continuously shifting interplay with Kochi and its wider community.

Part 2: Drawings at Kashi Cafe

The Aspinwall space installation will be comprised of a series of six large-scale framed drawings depicting the urban environment of Onomatopoeia. Across the walls of its public steps, its port architecture and Museum of Art are depictions of the posters in various states of defacement. Signalling a confluence of the Islands various belief systems and cultural milieu.

Venue: Kashi Cafe

Jonathan Owen 

Medium: Sculptures and drawings

Project description: The artist will present two sculptural marble works, shown on plinths, and a set of between seven and 10 framed eraser drawings. Owen’s art is about transformation: he modifies found photographs that have been reproduced in books, and uses an ordinary rubber to erase parts of the image. The residual trace of the figure, which looks like a ghostly apparition, leaves clues as to what was once there. Similarly, he transforms 19th century marble statues into partially collapsed yet elegant reductions of their original form.

Venue: Pepper House, Ground Floor 

Nicola Durvasula and John Tilbury 

Medium: Installation and grand piano performances. 

Project description: John Tilbury’s proposal for KMB 2016 will be two-fold :- he will invite people to listen to, observe and discuss his preparation of selected works from his contemporary repertoire, as well as his approach to improvisation, with particular reference to Nicola Durvasula #39's work, which will be on display. This would be quite informal and the artist will encourage people to participate  and experiment; for example. The piano could be treated as a sound source to be exploited rather than an instrument to be played. Tilbury will also involve local audiences in a work of an improvisatory nature, which will involve singing and discovering new and unusual sounds, drawing from local traditions. This performative part has been delayed till February/ March 2017.

Nicola Durvasula will make a total of 108 sculptures/ objects both before and during the Biennale. At any one time, from one to one hundred and eight works (ranging in size from approx 4cm – 40cm) will be displayed on the tables. All works will be archived (photographs  + written notes) and these kept in an archival book on wooden table/cabinet) in the same space. Some works will be made specifically for the collaborative musical performance with John Tilbury, others continuing in the vein of earlier work, at times relating in some way to the local area and culture of Kerala. 

Venue: Pepper House, Ground Floor

Rachel McLean

Medium: Video

Project description: Rachel Maclean will show a split-screen video untitled Please, Sir... (2014), a darkly comic adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and The Pauper, exploring themes of greed, class and dependence in a cultural rhetoric of austerity and aspiration. Presented as a dual projection, the characters interact between screens, appearing to inhabit two distinct worlds.

Shot entirely using green-screen, the work creates a synthetic, shape-shifting realm in which an Adidas-striped Oliver Twist mugs a Tudor Prince at knifepoint, a pauper steals £10 from the pocket of Simon Cowell and a vagrant youth is offered heroin by a well-dressed servant.

Maclean is the only actor in the work and mimes to found audio plundered from a myriad of sources, including Britain’s Got Talent, Jeremy Kyle and The Apprentice.  The characters wear heavy make-up, prosthetic noses and fake teeth, an appearance which sits somewhere between a Hogarth satire and the cheap-plastic grotesque of joke shop fancy-dress.

Venue: Aspinwall, First Floor