kochi,-india

Ernesto Neto, Life Is a River, 2012, cotton fabric, polyamide fabric, spices. Installation view, Moidu’s Heritage Plaza, 2013.

the Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Various Venues

Ernesto Neto, Life Is a River, 2012, cotton fabric, polyamide fabric, spices. Installation view, Moidu’s Heritage Plaza, 2013.

“THE PAST IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY: they do things differently there.” This is the famous first line of L. P. Hartley’s novel The Go-Between, published in London in 1953, but it could have easily been a description of India’s first biennial, in 2012–13. Curated by Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, both Mumbai-based artists of Malayali descent (they grew up in Kerala), the Kochi-Muziris Biennale dredged up ideas of history, difference, and—that elusive concept—multiculturalism. Set throughout Kochi, the exhibition also paid homage to the ancient city of Muziris, once a thriving seaport, which according to legend was washed away in the fourteenth century by a major flood. In its stead, Kochi (dubbed the “Queen of the Arabian Sea”) rose to become the epicenter of the spice trade—hosting a multiracial masala as Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, and Jewish traders settled there.

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