Kochi: The Students’ Biennale (SB), an art education initiative unparalleled in India in scope and ambit, will feature the works of over 470 aspiring artists from 55 schools across the country in an exhibition that runs parallel to Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016.
Kerala minister for education C. Raveendranath will inaugurate SB 2016, the second edition of the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s flagship art outreach effort, with an opening ceremony at 11.00 am on Tuesday, December 13, at The Biennale pavilion in Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi.
The SB, which is second only to the Biennale in terms of scale and reach, will be on till March 29 next year. It is run in collaboration with the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) and the Foundation for Indian Art and Education (FIAE) and is supported by Tata Trusts.
Driven by 15 emerging curators, the project reaches out to art schools throughout India, to encourage art students to reflect on their practices and showcase their works on an international stage.
Speaking at a press conference here today, KBF president Bose Krishnamachari said, “With the Students’ Biennale running in concurrence with KMB 2016, the exhibiting students and presenting curators have the perfect avenue to showcase their works to an audience of roughly half a million people over its near four month long duration. The SB will channel the energies of the Biennale platform into the Indian art education system, challenging students to go beyond the constraints imposed by both curriculum and exhibition.”
While the immediate objective is to expose its participants to the processes that go into making and presenting a world class art event, the SB is also an opportunity to acquire skills to pursue a career in the contemporary art world.
The SB 2016 curators are: Adwait Singh, Aryan, Ajit Kumar, Faiza Hasan, C.P. Krishnapriya, Harshita Bathwal, Naveen Mahantesh, Noman Amouri, Paribartana Mohanty, Rajyashree Goody, Sarojini Lewis, Shatavisha Mustafi, Shruti Ramlingiah, Sumitra Sunder and Vivek Chockalingam.
They were selected in November 2015 from among hundreds of aspirants by a panel of project mentors that included Krishnamachari, KMB director of programs Riyas Komu, education consultant Meena Vari and FICA director Vidya Shivadas.
Over the course of the year, they reached out to 45 government and 10 private art schools – about three-four schools per curator – across India, conducting institution visits, organizing workshops and interventions, and interacting with BFA and MFA students.
“The exhibition will be the culmination of their individual journeys, research, insights and interests. But the SB is more than just spotlighting art production. Its significance lies in the building of learning spaces and niches of creativity between the academic and the professional worlds. In the long term, it is expected to mature into a space to explore the diversity of styles and assess the infrastructural challenges within the Indian art education system,” Komu said.
The SB counts as education partners, Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts, Raza Foundation and Gallery Espace, and features collaborations with such prestigious arts bodies as Asia Art Archive and Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council.
The student curators of SB 2016 had access to an expert advisory team including Sudhir Patwardhan in Mumbai, Jeebesh Bagchi, Shukla Sawant and Belinder Dhanoa in Delhi, Sarada Natarajan in Hyderabad, Rakhi Peswani in Bangalore, Siva Kumar in Santiniketan, Indrapramit Roy, Akkhitam Vasudevan and B.V. Suresh in Vadodara.
SB 2016 will be presented across seven venues in the historic Mattancherry - Jew Town area of Fort Kochi: M.K. Trades, Kotachery Brothers & co., Arjuna Art Gallery, Heritage Arts, Mattancherry Temple Property, Mohammed Ali Warehouse and Fadi Hall.
The press conference was attended by KMB 2016 curator Sudarshan Shetty, KBF CEO Manju Sara Rajan as well as a number of KBF Trustees, including award-winning adman Sunil V.