The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the latent cosmopolitan spirit of the modern metropolis of Kochi and its mythical past, Muziris, to create a platform that will introduce contemporary, global visual art theory and practice to India.
It will attempt to showcase and debate new Indian and international aesthetics and experiences and enable a dialogue among artists, curators, cultural practitioners and the public.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to create a new language of cosmopolitanism and modernity that is rooted in the lived and living experience of this old trading port, which, for more than six centuries, has been a crucible of numerous communal identities.
Kochi is among the few cities in India where pre-colonial traditions of cultural pluralism continue to flourish.
These traditions pre-date the post-Enlightenment ideas of cultural pluralism, globalisation and multiculturalism. They can be traced to Muziris, the ancient city that was buried under layers of mud and mythology after a massive flood in the 14 th century.
The site was recently identified and is currently under excavation.
It is necessary to explore and, when necessary, retrieve memories of this past, and its present, in the current global context to posit alternatives to political and cultural discourses emanating from the specific histories of Europe and America.
A dialogue for a new aesthetics and politics rooted in the Indian experience, but receptive to the winds blowing in from other worlds, is possible.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to establish itself as a centre for artistic engagement in India by drawing from the rich tradition of public action and public engagement in Kerala, where Kochi is located.
The emergence of Kerala as a distinct political and social project with lessons for many developing societies owes also to aesthetic interventions that have subverted notions of social and cultural hierarchies.
These interventions are immanent in the numerous genres and practices of our rich tradition of arts. In a world of competing power structures, it is necessary to balance the interests and independence of artists, art institutions, and the public.
It seeks to reflect the new confidence of Indian people who are slowly, but surely, building a new society that aims to be liberal, inclusive, egalitarian and democratic.
The time has come to tell the story of cultural practices that are distinct to the Indian people and local traditions, practices and discourses that are shaping the idea of India.
These share a lot with the artistic visions emerging from India’s neighbourhood. The Biennale also seeks to project the new energy of artistic practices in the subcontinent.
It seeks to explore the hidden energies latent in India’s past and present artistic traditions and invent a new language of coexistence and cosmopolitanism that celebrates the multiple identities people live with.
The dialogue will be with, within, and across identities fostered by language, religion and other ideologies. The Biennale seeks to resist and interrogate representations of cosmopolitanism and modernity that thrive by subsuming differences through co-option and coercion.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to be a project in appreciation of, and education about, artistic expression and its relationship with society.
It seeks to be a new space and a fresh voice that protects and projects the autonomy of the artist and her pursuit to constantly reinvent the world we live in.
President & Biennale Director
Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Kerala
Writer/Former IAS officer
Managing Director, Lulu Financial Group
Founder, Jhaveri Contemporary
Co-Founder & Vice Chairperson, The Faizal & Shabana Foundation
Trustee - Government Nominee
Tourism Directorate, Govt. of Kerala
Trustee - Government Nominee
Joint Secretary, Dept. of Finance, Govt. of Kerala
Philanthropist, Art Collector
Head & Trustee, SP Lohia Foundation
Former Member of Parliament
Government of India
Former Minister of Education & Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala
Member of Parliament
(Former) Secretary (R)
Cabinet Secretariat, GOI
Former Mayor of Kochi
Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai
Conde Nast India
Founder CEO, Technopark
Former Member, Kerala State Planning Board
Director of Programmes & KMB 2022 Curatorial Team Member
International Partnerships & Programmes
Programme Manager (Discursive and Public Programmes)
Programme Manager – ABC
Programme Manager (Curatorial)
Executive Assistant to the President and Biennale Director