With the fourth edition of Kochi Muziris Biennale coming up in a week’s time, facebook, Instagram, Newspapers are replete with the posts relative to the same. The posts show some photographs, dances, colourful activities and some kind of art exhibition, but what exactly are they doing? What is biennale in the first place? How is it different from any other exhibition, or art fair or Kala Ghoda festival? Does it really make any difference to our living? The answer would be yes; it certainly is different and has much more relevance to our lives than we could imagine it to have.
To dwell into the thought further, let us look at how the idea of biennale comes about. Biennale is a Italian word which literally means every other year, or alternate year. So Biennale is an event that takes place once every two years. There could be biennales of engineering, science or any other field, but the term is socially associated with art events, because of its popularity gained from Venice Biennale first held in 1895. After which we have a number of pouplar events like Biennale de Paris, Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival) and ofcourse our very own Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
Banking on the wedding anniversary of the Italian king, the Venice biennale was meant to be world fair a combination of number of organized exhibitions. The whole city became the venue of the exhibition and many social, cultural and economic issues were put forth in face of the exhibition. The biennale also had some makings of international art exhibitions today- City marketing, internationalism, destination culture and spectacular scale. Biennale was a platform to discuss the number of issues outside the confinement of art galleries and museums, amidst people who were receivers and connoisseurs of art. The large availability if space and numerous variable possibilities of display were meant to encourage art activities and works which were beyond expectance and acceptance in the conservative exhibition spaces. Since put in public sphere, it was to provide a platform form discussing contemporary art practices. Today, biennales are not only the above mentioned, but also have the potential of urban planning and diplomatic relations developments. Unlike museums which focus on histories of the cities, the biennales are more culture and present specific and thus are mirror to the contemporary issues and changing dynamics of the city as the global world. The biennale thus is and exhibition of the society, living culture of its venue, put up in a magnificent manner and analysed by a number of artists in varied media.
So how does biennale matter to us? Biennale today is no more just an event of art, it is a crowd puller with visitors from all over the world visiting the country to witness the cultural settings. Biennales bring in a huge thinking crowd that can witness your spaces as you want them to see and not with the eyes of some historian or foreign eye. It is an excellent platform to discuss the actual pertaining issues that may change our world for tomorrow. It brings in lot of economic attractions to our spaces since its invited people for all the right reasons. And most significant of all, it provides platform to the creative geniuses of our times to produce and perform without any economic pressure, and open the minds of the audience to meet their own creative side in return. Since your dwelling space is the exhibition space, your confrontation to the art creations becomes inevitable and you start living with art rather that treating it like a commodity, which should be the way in any case.
In the world of globalization, individual identity is becoming more and more profound. Each one of us wants what the other has, but yet wants to be unique. The answer to this dilemma lies in reliving your own culture, which is made possible through such biennales. These biennales make your identity to the world, thus such events make your Indianness in the minds of the other countries. So yes, biennales do matter because they are ‘us’. So this time, pack your bags and set out to witness a socio-economical cultural fiesta, the spectaculars of our own globalised selves, the Kochi Biennale and be part of the sacred living of humanity through art.