Influential names from art world praise ‘special’ nature of Biennale


Kochi, Feb 02: Over its nearly two-month run, Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) 2016 has seen a series of high-profile visits by some of the biggest and most influential names in the art world. The verdicts on the third edition of India’s only Biennale are consistent: it is ‘rare’ and ‘unique’.

Earlier this week, Jay A. Levenson – the Director of the International Program at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York – visited the Biennale with a cross-departmental team of curators from one of the most respected museums in the world.

“This is my third time to the Biennale and I'm extremely encouraged by its staying power. I think all three editions have shown that you get a very unique perspective when the curators are artists themselves. That is a very encouraging sign,” said Levenson, who for over 20 years has coordinated MoMA’s relations with institutions in other countries.

“At KMB 2016, the balance between the local, regional and international perspectives is particularly impressive. Also special is the way the Biennale continues to be able to bring in all types of audiences: from the international art fraternity to local people,” he added.

Noting that the Biennale was developing into a “unique” platform, Levenson said he was excited to see where it goes from here.

During a visit prior to her recent appointment as the new Director of the iconic Tate galleries in the UK – considered one of the most important positions in the art community, Maria Balshaw noted that the Biennale was a “rare and special thing”.

“The organisers deserve applause and appreciation. The art is great and the setting and locations are so apposite and the atmosphere – that most crucial thing for an event like this – feels radical and inclusive,” said Balshaw, who will become the first woman to oversee the four museums that fall under the Tate banner later this year.

“There were many memorable artistic highlights. Some of the ones which I particularly liked include the works of Yang Hongwei and Dai Xiang, Sunil Padwal's stunning installation, Zuleikha Chaudari's performance installation and the works of Desmond Lazaro, Yardena Kurulkar, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Yuko Mohri and István Csákány,” she said.

Balshaw also praised Camielle Norment’s Prime – “an epic installation where I rested for 15 minutes and contemplated the ocean” – as having added to a “truly memorable experience”.

With India Art Fair getting underway today, more curators and museum directors from around the world are expected to visit the Biennale over the next week.

“The Biennale has become a can’t-miss fixture on the international art circuit. With each edition, its reputation as an authentic, artist-driven celebration of contemporary art continues to grow. Besides the visits made by some of the powerful members of the global art community, the art world itself is buzzing about it,” said KMB co-founder Bose Krishnamachari.

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