Students’ Biennale to feature works of over 350 art students from 55 schools

Second edition of year-long KBF outreach initiative culminates in exhibition at KMB 2016.
SB 2016 to open on December 13 and run concurrent to the Biennale until March 2017

Kochi, Nov 15: The second edition of the Students’ Biennale (SB) – a unique art educational initiative unparalleled in India in its scope and ambit – will provide a one-of-its-kind exhibitory platform for the works of over 350 aspiring artists from 55 schools across the country at India’s biggest art event that starts next month.

SB 2016 will be inaugurated on December 13 – a day after the opening of the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) – by Prof C. Raveendranath, Minister for Education, Government of Kerala. It will be spread out over seven venues in historic Fort Kochi.

First held in 2014, the SB is a core programme in the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s (KBF) educational outreach to promote contemporary art practice in India. It is run in collaboration with the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) and the Foundation for Indian Art and Education (FIAE) and is supported by Tata Trusts.

Driven by 15 emerging curators, the project reaches out to art schools throughout India, to encourage art students to reflect on their practices and showcase their works on a international stage. The SB thus channels the energies of a global art event into the art education system, challenging students to go beyond the constraints of both curriculum and exhibition.

With the Biennale, which runs from 12/12/16 through 29/03/17, the exhibiting students and curators have the perfect avenue to showcase their works to an audience of roughly half a million people over its duration.

The immediate intent of the SB is to expose its participants to the processes that go into making and presenting a world class art event and the nuances of curatorship. It also gives them an opportunity to acquire skills to pursue a career in the contemporary art world and encourage discourse on the state of art education in India.

The curators for SB 2016 are: Adwait Singh, Aryan, Ajit Kumar, Faiza Hasan, C.P. Krishnapriya, Harshita Bathwal, Naveen Mahantesh, Noman Amouri, Paribartana Mohanty, Rajyashree Goody, Sarojini Lewis, Shatavisha Mustafi, Shruti Ramlingiah, Sumitra Sunder and Vivek Chockalingam.

They were selected in November last year from amongst hundreds of aspirants by a panel of project mentors that included KBF President Bose Krishnamachari, KMB Director of Programmes Riyas Komu, Education Consultant Meena Vari and FICA Director Vidya Shivadas.

Over the course of the year, they reached out to 45 government and 10 private art schools – about three-four schools per curator – across India, conducting institution visits, organising workshops and interventions, and interacting with BFA and MFA students.

SB 2016 will be the culmination of their individual journeys, research, insights and interests. It also includes collateral projects such as the initiative’s zine Pandemonium, local exhibitions of the initial outcomes from curatorial interventions and a schedule of programmes to be presented during the exhibition.

SB 2016 will be presented across seven venues in the historic Mattancherry - Jew Town area of Fort Kochi: M.K. Trades, Kotachery Brothers & co., Arjuna Art Gallery, Heritage Arts, Mattancherry Temple Property, Mohammed Ali Warehouse and Fadi Hall.



About the Students’ Biennale

The Students’ Biennale project is a lot more than just shining a spotlight on art production. It privileges the process. Over a year in the making, the significance of SB lies in the building of learning spaces and niches of creativity between the academic and the professional worlds.

In this platform that marries art education and art practice, exhibitions and art institutions, the KBF places as much emphasis on training the curators as on encouraging young art students and fostering change in art learning structures.

In the longer term, the KBF intends the Students’ Biennale to strengthen Indian art education practices and create a pool of curators and artists. It will mature to become a space to explore the diversity of the Indian art education system and assess the infrastructural challenges within.

Second only to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in terms of scale and reach, the novel initiative has on board as education partners, Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts, Raza Foundation and Gallery Espace, and features collaborations with such prestigious arts bodies as Asia Art Archive and Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council.


The student curators of SB 2016 had access to an expert advisory team including Sudhir Patwardhan in Mumbai, Jeebesh Bagchi, Shukla Sawant and Belinder Dhanoa in Delhi, Sarada Natarajan in Hyderabad, Rakhi Peswani in Bangalore, Siva Kumar in Santiniketan, Indrapramit Roy, Akkhitam Vasudevan and B.V. Suresh in Vadodara.

Though their backgrounds vary from freshly minted graduates to careers in architecture, editing and academic research, the curators share a common brief – engage with art students and work towards a collective project. The stakes are more than simply bringing a few individuals together, the curators help form a new structure of the networks and fraternities formed as they link up with institutions, students, faculties and professionals.

On their divergent routes across India – from Shillong to Surat and Kashmir to Kalady, the KBF helps the curators and their linkages to forge an understanding of the ‘contemporary’ in structures and spaces as diverse as colonial era education institutions, national schools, vocational polytechnics and newly set up art schools.

In September this year, the curators came together in Kochi for a five-day seminar to process their individual research and synthesise it into a meaningful collective exhibition. The outline for this was then plotted during a series of site visits which have shaped SB 2016.

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