Contemporary artist Jitish Kallat to curate 2014 Kochi Biennale




Madhusree Chatterjee
Kochi (Kerala)   

Leading contemporary artist Jitish Kallat, will curate forthcoming Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 in the ancient twin cities of Kochi and Muziris in Kerala  —. a showcase that brings the best of the global contemporary art to the country in picturesque venues spread across the old colonial quarters of Kochi by the Cochin harbor and Muziris, a historic Jewish port of call by the sea, few km from Kochi.

The biennale which began with fanfare for three months in December 2012 marked the beginning of a new chapter in Indian art, pitch-forking Kochi as an art heritage destination on the global lifestyle map. The 2012 edition of the Kochi Biennale drew nearly 90 artists over a period of three months who created site specific multi-media installations, conventional art, street art and kitsch art accompanied by performance and new media expositions.       

The announcement of the new curator by the organizers of the biennale, the Kochi Muziris Foundation  and the Kerala state government, in a facilitating role,  ended eight months of suspense. Thirty-nine year-old Kallat, a Mumbai-based artist, is known worldwide for his photographs and installation art that uses texts, light, sound, history, icons and digital aids. Moist of his works occur in narrative essays that assimilates from both global and traditional artistic practises.

Themes like time, birth, sustenance and mortality recur in his work, often overlaying disparate dates, everyday images and events into interconnected palimpsests Currently, Kallat’s works are on display in a solo exhibition ‘Epilogue’ at the San Jose Museum of Art (6th Sept 2013 – 20th April 2014) in United States.

The Mayor said “Kochi Corporation plans to set up a permanent venue for hosting prestigious contemporary art and cultural events like the Kochi-Muziris Biennale”.

Kallat was selected by a Special Advisory Body comprising artists, curators, gallerists and critics. The first biennale was co-curated by Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, two leading contemporary artists with roots in Kerala.      

“One of the most celebrated contemporary Indian artists internationally, Jitish is an inquisitive enthusiastic observer of life and creative self. We are proud to have this young and brilliant artist as our new artistic director and curator of India`s International Biennale, Kochi-Muziris Biennale-2014,” Bose Krishnamachari, president of KBF.

Riyas Komu, secretary of the Kochi-Muziris foundation, said “Jitish was skilled with a scholarly approach in art criticism and a meticulous approach towards his own art making”. Kallat said “the biennale has the possibility of becoming a site to exchange prompts and assemble working notes; to induce shifts in each other’s perceptions and practices and to collectively expand the tools with which we might propose versions of the world today.”

In the run-up to 2014, the foundation is planning to engage in a wide variety of educational and cultural activities for children, the trustees said.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale which began on 12.12/12 hosted 90 artists from 23 countries. Nearly 400,000 people visited the 96-day show.

According to Bose, the Indian art scene had changed dramatically post-Independence and even more so in the last few years”. “There is an immense need of awareness within the country about art and its practices. We are oscillating between extremes in the art markets which are warming up towards Indian art post-liberalisation and on the other extreme there is a certain ignorance about the understanding of contemporary arts and its practices,” Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi-Muziris Foundation, told this writer in an interview, explaining the need of the4 biennale.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale fills a gap between a Triennale organized by the Lalit Kala Akademi and ministry of culture — and the India Art Fair, the country’s biggest international art fair. It gives viewers an opportunity to see new art in public spaces — and engage in creative discourses without the trappings of commerce.    

Jitish Kallat’s bibliography  

Kallat’s work has been exhibited widely at museums and institutions including Tate Modern (London), Martin Gorpius Bau (Berlin), Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane), Kunst Museum (Bern), Serpentine Gallery (London), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), Palais de Beaux-Arts (Brussels), Hangar Bicocca (Milan), Busan Museum of Modern Art, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Oslo), ZKM Museum (Karlsruhe), Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Oslo), Arken Museum of Moderne Kunst (Copenhagen), Institut Valencia d’Art Modern (Spain), Art Museum (Tokyo), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), Jean Tinguley Museum (Basel) and the Gemeente Museum (The Hague) amongst many others.

His work has been part of the Havana Biennale, Gwangju Biennale, Asia Pacific Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Asian Art Biennale, Curitiba Biennale, Guangzhou Triennale and the Kiev Biennale among others.

Kallat has had several solo exhibitions at galleries such as Chemould Prescott Road (Mumbai), Haunch of Venison (Zurich and London), Arario Gallery (Beijing and Seoul), Arndt (Berlin) and at Galerie Daniel Templon (Paris) and Nature Morte (Delhi). His recent solo exhibitions were held at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, the Ian Potter Museum of Art in Melbourne and the Art Institute of Chicago.



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