KBF hosts novel collaborative project on Kerala-Gulf links

First leg of ‘Trans-Indian Ocean Artists Exchangeproject to run concurrent to KMB 2016


Kochi, November 7: An ambitious collaborative project, comprising works by artists from either side of the Arabian Sea, will make its first run in parallel with the upcoming third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), starting on 12/12/16.

The ‘Trans-Indian Ocean Artists Exchange’, an initiative by Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) in collaboration with Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, and Dutch artist and curator Mo Reda, aims to build on the historical forms of traffic between Kerala and West Asia and explore the possibilities of developing new forms of exchange based on contemporary art and culture.

As part of the four-phase project, Emirati artists Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim and Mohammed Kazem are currently finishing a two-month residency at Pepper House, Fort Kochi. This will culminate in a display of their works at the Pepper House Residency Exhibition, which will run in concurrence with KMB 2016.

“Each city, each place has its own feel, its own atmosphere. Being in residency in Kochi has put me in touch with the spirit and materials of the city. I feel like I have struck a friendship with Kochi. This will be reflected in my work, which will be built of paper and rock,” said Ibrahim, a pioneering artist whose work has been exhibited across the world, including in Venice, Bonn, Havana, Cairo and Moscow.

“Working in residency here has been an opportunity to interact with the various elements of Kochi’s social life, the movement of its people and its natural environment. Both my art practice and project captures these elements and gives them visual context,” said Kazem, who will show both an installation and photographs in December’s exhibition.

Kazem, who co-curated the 2007 Sharjah Biennial, has presented his work in Venice, Singapore, Dubai, and Beijing.

In early 2017, two Indian artists – to be selected from respondents to an open call that will be issued next week – will make the return journey to Sharjah to work in residence at Maraya Art Centre. The artists will research historical ties, current realities, and future possibilities while looking back at centuries-long economical and cultural involvement between the two regions.

The works of all four artists will then be shown at exhibitions independently curated by Reda.

Being in residency while implementing a project naturally stimulates the exchange of ideas and knowledge. The artists do their own research, exploration and have their moments of serendipity,” said Reda, who is working with the philosophical theme of ‘Solipsism’ for the Kochi exhibition.

On expectations for the project, KBF Secretary Riyas Komu said, “The existing narrative is primarily shaped by Kerala sending manpower to the Gulf and receiving capital in return. In this initiative, we are looking to see how the situation plays out when the exchange involves artists and the economic imperative is intercepted by an aesthetic imperative.”

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