Kochi | Unlike the homogenised affairs that art exhibitions usually are, India, through the Kochi Muziris Biennale, has had the opportunity to rethink the format, Ed D’Souza, award-winning artist and head of the Winchester School of Art, today said. The KMB takes the shift away from the recognised art hubs in the metros and manifests itself in Kochi, while also calling for wider engagement, he said at a ‘Let’s Talk seminar’, featuring academicians from one of the leading and oldest art institutions in the UK.
D’Souza said the effects and the effectiveness of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale may not be tangible at the moment, but it will be sustained and visible over the longer term. The real effect of the KMB is when it critically engages and when it has an effect on thinking, art education, politics and social culture. The two-day seminar, titled ‘Contested Spaces’, featured erudite talks on the impact of the biennale, contemporary curating, visual culture and also of the ‘multi-layered story’ on the installation of D’Souza’s KMB ’14 collateral, ‘End of Empire’.
The installation features an old ‘emblematic’ Ambassador car, which D’Souza had spotted abandoned in Delhi when he arrived here for the start of a project. Six months later, the car bore a completely different look with graffiti and age. He undertook a ‘cubist recomposition of the car’ with some local carpenters in Fort Kochi, and it has been now ‘installed’ in a parking lot behind the police station here.
Senior research fellow August Davis, speaking on the roles of the curator, noted how the curatorial exercise offers a thematic narrative and a thread to follow in an exhibition. Sometimes the curatorial practice is itself a metaphysical art form, she said.
The tensions in contemporary curating are not just about the visual components, but about more conceptual engagements and thoughts about what goes beyond the staging of exhibitions. Dr Sunil Manghani, a reader in critical and cultural theory, spoke of how everyone is entrenched in visual culture today thanks to technology.
Jitish Kallat, as an artist, is of course a good example of a practitioner immersed in a visual culture, said Manghani. As KMB ’14 curator too, his sensibility for an expanded reading of visual culture comes through. He cited the inclusion of the video works of Charles and Ray Eames, VSauce and Ho Rui An to illustrate this.
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