The Kochi Biennale foundation is non-profit charitable trust that is engaged in promoting art and the rich culture and heritage and along with these educational activities in India. With support from the Government of Kerala they are promoting Kochi-Muziris Biennale. This is an international exhibition of contemporary art set in spaces across the city of Kochi and surrounding Islands with shows being held in existing galleries, halls and sites installed in public spaces, old heritage buildings and other old and disused structures across the city. Indian and international artists exhibit their artworks across a variety of mediums like films, paintings, sculptures and performance art. The biennale seeks to invoke the rich cosmopolitan legacy of the metropolis of Kochi along with its mythical predecessor Muziris, the ancient port.
The Kochi Biennale foundation was founded by artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu in 2010. This idea got conceptualized when Department of Cultural Affairs of Government of Kerala approached both these artists to organize an international platform for displaying art in India. They proposed this idea in lines with the Venice Biennale. The challenge was relative to the ambition of the project. A Biennale has never got past the thought process in India. Because there was no existing infrastructure to exhibit art on this large scale. But with the support of the Government, private financiers and local businesses, the Biennale found spaces and opened them up for displaying art. International art community supported the cause by sending art and artists to take part in this affair. The Indian art community also got a platform for working with international artists. And all these artists became the spokespersons of Biennale.
The KBF foundation promotes the conservation of Heritage monuments and the upliftment of traditional forms of art and culture. The first Kochi Muziris Biennale began on 12th December 2012. 80 artists of which 50% were international artists showcased their work and a sustained education program in three months. As a run up to the event artist Eberhard Havekost’s exhibition called ‘sightseeing trip’ in collaboration with Dresden State Art Collections was showcased at Durbar Hall Kochi. Aspin wall house showcases the work of 44 artists spread across the premises. The third edition of Kochi Muziris Biennale was inaugurated on 12th December 2016 and is curated by Sudarshan Shetty. Kerala tour packages from Ahmadabad will include stay in places close to these art galleries so that you can admire and enjoy the exhibits showcased in the Biennale.
The different venues that exhibit the art are
1. Aspin wall
Originally this was the business premises of a company owned by English trader John H Aspin wall which traded coconuts, spices, timber, lemon grass oil, ginger, coffee, tea and rubber. It is a sea facing property in Fort Kochi and has a number of buildings, warehouses and smaller outer-lying structures. This is the primary venue for Biennale and has been loaned over to them by DLF limited in association with Gujral foundation.
2. Pepper house
It is a water front heritage property on Kalvathi Road in between Fort Kochi and Bazar road. The building consists of two godowns or warehouses one facing the road and the other facing the water front and the two are separated by a courtyard and with Dutch style clayed roofs.
3. Kashi Art Café
It is an Old Dutch property converted into a café by Anoop Scaria and Dorrie Younger. This gallery opened in 1997 with an exhibition by CV Ramesh, and hence forth has become the hub of Kochi’s contemporary art scene. The café has a beautiful collection of art work by some eminent artists likeChristina Mamakos, K S Radhakrishnan and many more.
4. Cabral Yard
The property gets its name from the Portuguese navigator Cabral who made the first shipment of merchandise from Cochin in 1500AD. The Aspin wall company acquired the Cabral Yard property in which they constructed a hydraulic press for coir yarn and they began trading in coir.
5. David hall
Named after a Jewish businessman David Koder. He lived here with his family. This is a Dutch bungalow built by the Dutch East India Company in the year 1695 and located on the north side of Parade Ground in Fort Kochi. Since 2007 this place has been leased by CNO India to CGH Earth which is an ecological conscious hotel group. This hall is currently an art gallery and café.
6. Durbar Hall
Located in the heart of the city, this hall was constructed in 1850’s by the Maharaja of Cochin to host his royal court and over 150 years this place has had major incarnations, but the recent renovation by Kochi Biennale Foundation has converted it into an international quality venue for exhibiting art.
7. MAP Project Space
Currently owned by Museum of Art and Photography, Bengaluru, these structures dates back several hundreds of years. Built at a time when Dutch ruled Cochin this place was used for the storage of spices for trade.
8. Anand Warehouse also known as Gujarati warehouse
This place is a standing testimony to the Gujarati community who have made this city their home for more than two centuries.
9. TKM Warehouse
It is now the venue for co-founder Riyas Komu’s Uru Art Harbor, which he formulated as a center for the arts and will also serve as the venue for the coming edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
10. Kashi art Gallery in Napier Street
It was acquired by Kashi art café as a dedicated gallery space and center for cultural exchange and renamed it to Kashi Art Gallery.
11. Cochin Club
It is a bungalow on a 3.5 acre plot and formerly used as a colonial mansion. Now this is a luxury hotel with beautiful landscapes. The narrow strip parallel to Cochin Club is used for Biennale as a venue.
12. Kottapuram Fort
It was built by the Portuguese in 1523 and it served a strategical position until it was captured by the Dutch in 1663. The fort was a site of negotiation between the Dutch and Tipu Sultan and it was bought
by the then king of Travancore Ramavarma Dharmaraja in 1789 to use the fort in safeguarding Travancore against Mysore ruler. These are the various venue, Keralatour packages from Hyderabad will
include travel to each one of these venues so that you will not miss out anything especially if you are
an art lover.