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Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018 – First Impressions

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018 – First Impressions

A society of the spectacle – that line stands out as one reads the curatorial note. There is a poetic anguish in her words. A canonising of technology and its addictions – the unfortunate (yet necessary) evils of urban life. One has to re-read her note to grasp its intricate passages. They are heavy with experience and history. Anita Dube, the curator of Kochi Biennale 2018 is taking a curatorial adventure to (as the note states) liberation and comradeship, between the possibilities for a non-alienated life that could spill into a ‘politics of friendship… We must in all humility start to reject an existence in the service of capital.

It is an intriguing route – A capitalist takedown. But it is happening in the backdrop of what is fast becoming a lush playground for India’s arts-elite. With pretentious artisanal cafe’s selling sunshine juices on wobbly plastic chairs and tables and a litany of museum-style merchandise that can drive a hole in the pocket. Expensive is the name of the game. However, a Sahodharan Cafe sits quietly in the midst of old trees, amongst the endearing slow-crumble of Aspinwall. And then there is the collaborative art spaces, the largest participation of women artists and artists considered to work in the fringes, the music and performance art shows that embrace the marginalised. It all puts a lot of soul in the art inventory. It is a dichotomy at play. The art world is run on money. Smart marketing – the mantra of the artist. But, the art season, by design and patronage, kickstarts a machinery that revs the economy of the top one-percent of the artist community in India. Then where is the elbowroom to ‘reject an existence in the service of capital’?

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