An insider's guide to navigating the Kochi Biennale 2018


An insider’s guide to navigating the Kochi Biennale 2018

Book your tickets to Kerala, stat

By Manali Shah  December 20th, 2018

It’s that time of the year again. Art lovers across the country make their way to Kerala for the bi-annual affair that is the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The largest art exhibition in the country, it began on December 12 and will go on till March 29, 2019. This year, the Kochi Biennale has been curated by artist, art historian and critic, Anita Dube, the festival’s first-ever female curator. She has attempted to make the fourth edition of the exhibition more inclusive — it is noteworthy that the biennale features more female artists this year than before.
Noted artist Lubna Chowdhary, who is showing at the festival, help us put together a guide to this year’s edition – let this be your curated itinerary to the art event of the year. 

Here are 7 artists you can’t miss at the Kochi Biennale 2018:

Song Dong

The Beijing-based artist was born the year Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution began in China. He draws upon his experiences of growing up with limited resources and therefore, reusing objects to create art. His sculptures, installations, and videos seek to explore how one’s connection to objects can reveal the emotional and cultural dynamics of their personal relationships. He has created installations comprised of the thousands of objects his mother collected in their family home to fill the void after his father’s death.

Nathan Coley

Glasgow-born and raised, Nathan's A Place Beyond Belief is an acclaimed light sculpture that has its origins in a radio conversation the artist heard post the 9/11 New York attacks. The work talks about the necessity to go beyond religious belief and ethnic suspicion for us to live peacefully as a society. By its location, at the entrance of the Kochi Biennale, and through a play on the word 'belief', the statement asks what it means to rise “beyond belief” in the current political context in India.


Jun Nguyen Hatsushiba

In the Tokyo-born artist's 2001 film Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam, a handful of men pedal cyclos, or three-wheeled taxis, on a shallow ocean floor. The drivers come up for air every few minutes and return to the tough task, representing the struggle felt by a socio-economic class of urban workers. Driving these taxis provided sustainable occupation for Vietnamese soldiers following the war, although in recent years, the local government is phasing out cycle rickshaws in favour of motorised vehicles. This work takes on a profound meaning in Kerala, which was recently hit by the worst floods in over a century.


Lubna Chowdhary
Tanzania-born and London-based Lubna began work on her installation, Metropolis, in 1991 and only completed it in 2017. It consists of ceramic sculptures, abstracted towers, monuments and other less definable forms. Walk around the installation and engage with it in numerous ways, from different vantage points, and think about how we can be uniquely shaped by the same environment.

Metropolis Installation

The Guerilla Girls

The New York-based feminist artist group has been creating performances, protests and visual works that challenge gender and ethnic inequality in the American and global art scene for over three decades now. The group chooses to remain anonymous by wearing guerilla masks so the focus remains on their work. At the Kochi Biennale, you can view its iconic posters and video-based work.


Bapi Das

Kolkata-born and based, Bapi Das worked as a autorickshaw driver in the city for many years and, today, recreates his observations in intricately embroidered panels. Through embroidery and fabric, he conjures fantastical depictions of Kolkata's streets, people and larger visual culture.


Chittaproshad
Naihati-born Chittaprosad was a self-taught artist, poet and an active member of the Communist Party of India. On display are works that include his drawings, paintings and other prints that cover his human and political interest, the Bengal famine, and cartoons that critique the post-Independent policies.

Photographs: Lubna Chowdhary