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Kochi-Muziris Biennale

‘In our Veins Flow Ink and Fire’ curated by Shubigi Rao


The fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale opens on the 23rd of December, 2022 with over 200 projects spread across heritage properties and warehouses, galleries and public spaces across Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, and Ernakulam on India’s southwestern coast. The central exhibition In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire curated by Singaporean artist Shubigi Rao, will run until April 10, 2023, featuring 90 artists and over 40 new commissions in historic Aspinwall House, Pepper House, and Anand Warehouse in Fort Kochi.

Shubigi Rao states, ‘Returning after a gap of 4 years, the 5th edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale examines how we survive, through song, materiality, joy, humour, and through language, whether written, verbal, and oral. After the states of fear, trauma and uncertain limbo of the pandemic years, it may seem strange to call for joy. Where is this optimism? Perhaps we can sense it more tangibly in artistic and collective work, especially in regional or particular contexts and forms, of the artists gathered here, in this Biennale.

These artists find their counterparts across the world, with work that includes questions like the possibly redemptive and revolutionary power of practice beyond the market. We see this reflected in growing investigative methods in cultural work that directly excavate and implicate the monetisation of everything — whether environment, activism, crisis, knowledge production and access, global capital flows and inequities. Our co-mingled
virtual futures are not mere outcomes of the social isolation of the last two years. We are inextricable from the transmission of knowledge, ideas and capital, and so too are we subject to neoliberal infiltration and control. Implicated now is the concept of nation and inviolability of borders, a pernicious myth that denies the diffusion of languages and ideas, of storytelling and sharing. Grief, anger, resistance and story are all present here. We can be messy in our attempts to remake or reshape our world in our struggles for equity, but rather than inchoate, these are nonconformist compositions, songs of new making. In the face of capriciousness and volatility, against all odds, this Biennale thrums with the power of storytelling as strategy, of the transgressive potency of ink, and transformative fire of satire and song.’

Founded in 2010, the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) was started by artists for artists, with the intention to bring contemporary art and ideas from across the world to South Asia. Situated in Fort Kochi, an island not far away from Muziris, the ancient port on the maritime silk route, the site was a nod to both a history of trade and cultural contamination, and a locus for global, cutting-edge contemporary art. This year, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, turns ten. While it is a moment to celebrate, it has also been a time of deep reflection—to learn from our past, acknowledge our failures and continue working in and with our present. Bose Krishnamachari, President KBF, notes, “As every institution must, we are also constantly thinking about building a more agile, accommodative structure that is able to host a diversity of people and practices across various formats. We have always wanted to extend ourselves beyond the exhibition format to be a space of thought, sharing, mediation, and knowledge production. We remain grateful to the Government of Kerala and all our patrons and supporters for their unwavering, unconditional support and look forward to welcoming you to Fort Kochi from December, until April 2023.”


Ali Cherri (Lebanon/ France), Asim Waqif (India), Sahil Naik (India), Pranay Dutta (India), Priya Sen (India), Priyageetha Dia (Singapore), Richard Bell (Australia), Christine Sun Kim (USA), Forensic Architecture (United Kingdom), Zhanna Kadyrova (Ukraine), and more
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