Our Mission Statement

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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.

STUDENTS’ BIENNALE 2022-23

The fifth edition of Students’ Biennale is led by a team of seven curators - Afrah Shafiq, Amshu Chukki, Anga Art Collective, Arushi Vats, Premjish Achari, Suvani Suri and Saviya Lopes & Yogesh Barve. Each curator is assigned a minimum of three states for their research, college visits, workshops and student-project shortlisting. This edition invites students to present ideas, works in progress, collaborative and finished works along with material developed during the workshops. A total of 50 projects will be presented by the 7 curators.

STUDENTS’ BIENNALE CO-LAB

Students’ Biennale Co-Lab envisions itself as a facilitator to create an impact at the grass root level of art engagement. Its focus is to devise student-centric programmes that depart from the conventional language of art making.


The larger goal is to make art accessible through collaborations, site-specific interventions and local interactions and build communities and construct context-specific nodal forums across India that foreground the regional specificities and alternative methods of knowledge production which are informed by the locale and diversity across genders, caste and class.
It is also a potential site to incubate the research outcomes generated via curator-led workshops for the Students’ Biennale 2022-23 exhibition. This edition includes a dedicated workshop space in Fort Kochi.

CURATORIAL Workshops

Workshops have emerged as an essential component of the Students’ Biennale through its past editions. The curatorial workshop engages with students who may not be part of the initial shortlist from the open calls. These workshops also address gaps in the existing pedagogical structures while allowing for a long-term engagement with the students to begin.

WRITERS Workshops

Led by prolific writers, critics and editors of the most cutting-edge and visionary publications from across the world, this upcoming workshop is modelled as a co-thinking and co-learning forum. There are diverse ways to think and write about the arts, and the workshop hopes to facilitate approaches through a collectively intuited exercise

CURATORS Workshops

This workshop intends to develop a diversity of perspectives on the form and medium of the exhibition to provide a structured and experimental inquiry into the possibilities of curatorial practice today. It aims to support creative thinking by building an infrastructure for making and exhibiting contemporary art.

Afrah Shafiq

Afrah Shafiq is a Goa-based artist whose work emerges from field research, documentary practices and archival material, subverting ways of looking at the familiar. She is currently a Field Research Programme Fellow, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.

Amshu Chukki

Amshu Chukki is a multidisciplinary artist from Bengaluru who articulates ideas of landscape and cities at the intersections of life, cinema, infrastructure, politics, and fiction. His solo show "Different Danny and Other Stories" was recently shown at Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai.

Anga Art Collective

Assam-based Anga Art Collective, founded in 2010, engages with socio-geographical landscapes, examining artistic responses to regional specificities. The ‘studio’ gives way to the fluidity of ‘process’ as they collaborate with rural communities, academics, and activists.

Arushi Vats

Arushi Vats is a curator and a prolific writer based in New Delhi. Her essays have appeared in Art India Magazine, LSE International History, Critical Collective and in catalogues by Serendipity Arts Foundation. She was a resident at La Napoule Art Foundation, France (2022).

Premjish Achari

Premjish Achari teaches art history and theory at Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida. He founded Future Collaborations to promote politically informed curation in contemporary art practice. He recently curated All Canaries Bear Watching, GRID Heritage Project, Delhi (2022).

Saviya Lopes and Yogesh Barve

Saviya Lopes and Yogesh Barve were visual art practitioners at Clark House Initiative, Mumbai. Their practices overlap in terms of history, community and education. They were fellows for the Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do) Forum, Gwangju Biennale 2016.

Suvani Suri

Suvani Suri is an artist/ researcher who thinks through listening, working with sound, text, and intermedia assemblages. Her practice is informed by the techno-politics of sound, aural/oral histories and the relational and speculative capacities of voice.