The fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which was to open December 12 of this year, has been pushed back to November 1, 2021, organizers announced Sunday. Preparations for the four-month-long event were halted during the spring as the Covid-19 pandemic raged in India and across the world, but as recently as August, the biennale advisory committee remained hopeful that with the proper protocols in place the exhibition could still happen. To that end, they continued through the summer and fall to promote exhibiting artists on Instagram and Facebook, and intensified their fundraising efforts. A harbinger of the exhibition’s postponement appeared just over a week ago with the announcement that the accompanying Students’ Biennale, scheduled for February 21, 2021, would take place entirely online.
Now, with the coronavirus spiking in Kerala and continuing to wreak havoc globally, and with domestic and international travel curtailed, the organizers acknowledge that fundraising has become complicated and that staging the biennial this year is in no one’s best interest.
“We have decided to postpone the event as there will be huge difficulties in bringing the materials for installations to Kochi,” Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), acknowledged in the New Indian Express.
The Biennale will offer various programs in the interim months, with the Students Biennale’ launching digitally, as planned. “We have already completed a major part of the preparations and finalized our artists,” said KBF treasuruer Bony Thomas. “Our curatorial group will lead the projection from February 21, 2021. Within a year, we are hoping that the country will regain normalcy and ensure a safe environment for artists, visitors and our volunteers.”
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When it finally takes place, the biennial, curated by artist Shubigi Rao and titled “In our veins flow ink and fire,” will be spread across numerous venues in Kochi, including the storied spice godowns, or warehouses, for which the city was once famous.
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