An event so big that we can handle it only once every couple of years: the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is ready for the 2016 edition. Simply put, it’s India’s biggest exhibition of international contemporary art and if past exhibitions are anything to go by, we’ll be talking about this one for a long time to come.

We can hardly think of a more appropriate home to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale than the lovely Kochi. Besides the fact that it was founded by two prominent artists of Keralan origin, Kochi is a star in its own right and every since the Biennale launched there, it has kept up its cool to be deserving of hosting it. Off to find Muziris? Well, hold on for a minute. It’s an ancient mythical seaport which is suspected to be around the Kochi area but its exact location remains unknown and as the exhibition sometimes reminds us, some things do better when they live in the imagination. In the meanwhile, if you need to know how to navigate Kochi, here’s what we suggest.

TIPS

This year’s confluence of art is curated by Sudarshan Shetty, arguably one of India’s most renowned artists across the globe who has hardly left any medium untouched. The theme draws inspiration from India as the land of seven rivers and attempts to give new meaning to tradition and its fluidity. Here are some names we’re excited to have the pleasure of meeting.

  • The photography of Mansi Bhatt from India which leaves us questioning reality from fiction
  • The painted and sculpted works of Pakistan’s Naiza Khan which provokes us to think of how day to day life itself is an art form
  • The translated poems of China’s Ouyang Jianghe which refreshes and slightly shocks with its honesty and visual stories
  • The staged sculpted worlds that explore motion brought to us by Norwegian musician-artist Pedro Gómez-Egaña
  • The reimagined videographic interpretations of traditional art by New Zealand Maori artist, Lisa Reihana

STAY

The Kochi Biennale runs from December 12, 2016 to March 29, 2017, and even with this generous timeframe, rooms will be hard to come by. Or at least our favourites will.

Trident Cochin.
Trident Cochin.
  • We absolutely love Old Harbour Hotel’s colonial archways, occasional four poster beds and its thirteen homely rooms
  • Trident Cochin for lush indoor and outdoor space and service that doesn’t go wrong
  • Quirk, classic, and contemporary at the same time, we’d be thrilled to dock at Brunton Boatyard
  • If modern, minimalist and contemporary are more your vibe, our final port of call would be Eighth Bastion

THINGS TO DO

Besides the works of art, the city of Kochi is sort of on exhibition too, as the gallery is actually spread over 9 venues across the city, from the former industrial Aspinwall House to the 100-year-old Cochin Club and the considerably older Kottapuram Fort. As you traipse across town, you’re likely to see the best it offers.

  • The Asian Kitchen By Tokyo Bay is located in Fort Kochi
  • Kochi Kitchen at Kochi Marriott for a great grilled snapper and an equal Chemmen Varatiyathu (a prawns, coconut, and shallot concoction)
  • Bloomsbury’s Boutique Café and Artisan Bakery for something small or something sweet
  • Heritage Arts for home décor, an impressive location and its adjoining bookshop
  • Rouka for women’s apparel that weaves traditional Indian textiles with modern cuts
  • Joe Ikareth for impossibly stylish plays on form and fabric
LOOK THE PART

When in Kochi, do as a Biennale attendee would. Browse the breezy cuts of Pero’s latest collection on Ogaan, grab some ethically sourced and handcrafted accessories from Bunosilo, and the all-new gorgeous gold-plated jewellery line from IkkaDukka—and you’re ready for the show.

 

 

—ADITI DATTA