Feb 182015

A day walking in Fort Kochi for Kochi Muziris Biennale

Recently in a twitter chat a question was asked : Which city (that you’ve visited) is the best to explore on foot, and why?

Without a blink I answered : Fort Kochi, as it is a vibrant city buzzing with art works that is best discovered on foot.

Many agreed. I was off course sharing my personal experience of walking the Fort Kochi right from the pier area to all the way to Jew Town, slowly discovering the charms of this jewel of a city whose lanes smell of the most fragrant of spices waiting for their  journey across the world.

Streets of Fort Kochi-Muziris Biennale

The Fort Kochi is an Open air Art Commune and the Biennale only adds to the charm

This last trip I walked the Fort Kochi area to capture a glimpse of the Kochi Muziris Biennale hosted by the Kochi Muziris Biennale foundation. The even though only a few years old has gathered global attention and is a must to attend if you are in Fort Kochi area during December to March period.

open air art installation showing trapeze artists

Art is much closer to life than you think: Check the post about Banjara rope walkers

This year’s Kochi Muziris Biennale dates are from 12th December 2014 to 29th march 2015, so you still have time to visit the same. With art installations everywhere in town every nook and corner of Fort Kochi becomes one big open air art gallery and you feel like you are in one big Artist Commune.

Open air art installation:  Kochi Muziris Biennale

An open air art installation to celebrate the hard work of the Port Workers 

I started from the Mahatma Gandhi Beach,  walking towards the Chinese Fishing Nets and checking the open installation of acrobats, now let me warn you her, while the Fort Koch is celebrating Biennale during this period, the town is a very artistic kind of place even otherwise also and its walls are full of some of the best street art that I have seen in India. Besides that many well-known Indian as well as expat artists have studios in Fort Kochi and I bumped into a few of them while walking around.

 Kochi Muziris Biennale foundation office

Kochi Muziris Biennale is a march of art from around the world

The tickets are available at Aspinwall House in Fort Kochi and at Durbar Hall in Ernakulum; they are priced at 100 Rs hundred for adults and 50 for kids below 15. I tried my best to convince the guy at counter that I am below 15 but he would not believe me. But those were the best 100 Rs I have ever spent in pursuit of good art, so no regret that my little con failed. (Off course I am kidding, what did you though I will pass as a 15 year old? ) But let us move forward before I am accused of trivializing art.

 Kochi Muziris Biennale are installation in open air

I -now declare myself the ruler of the world – ( my interpretation )

B C Gallery in Fort Kochi with some street art

Street Art outside BC Gallery

As I was short of time and there was a long queue to enter the main venue I decided to focus on some of the other venues like Pepper House, and then walked towards Gallery OED, BC Gallery, KVA Brothers, Muhammad Ali Warehouse, then walked towards the Dutch Palace in Matencherry.

A miniature artwork at  Kochi Muziris Biennale

This and some similar artworks were inside some kind of peep hole so you saw it just like those bio-scope in rural fairs

On the way I stopped at various art installations, and clicked pictures of interesting art installation like this picture above, that was actually inside a pin hole and you had to peep in a key hole kind of slot to look at this colorful world inside.

A huge stone sculpture at  Kochi Muziris Biennale

It is a material world – Giant burger the consumerism is consuming us

It is here I met artist Nandakumar P.K., who has worked on a project called a Land Reformed 2, where a pond in Pazhannur Bhagavati temple that is in the center courtyard of the Dutch palace was cleaned and made accessible once again. In earlier days this pond was a center for social interaction, and the venue of meals served to the poor and needy but was now lying in neglect and dumped with broken bottles, debris etc.

Artist Nandakumar P. K.   Kochi Muziris Biennale

Artist Nandakumar P. K – the Land Re-Formed 2- The pond is our shared heritage in the Bhagvati Temple

Stone artwork by artist Nandakumar P. K

Stone artwork by artist Nandakumar P. K who spearheaded the revival of the temple pond

Later I continued to walk in the Jew Town and visited the Heritage Arts, Yousuf Art Gallery, Yousuf Building and Mandalay Hall, overall a wonderful walk that I did at a leisurely pace clicking pictures, chatting with vendors, making friends and doing some window shopping.

BTW if you have not checked my post about What To Shop in Kerala, this is the right time to do so, because Jew Town in Fort Kochi is where most of the tourist go for shopping in Kerala and this post of mine was also picked by Kerala Tourism for their book about Kerala Blog Express.

I liked this aspect of the Biennale the most where artists, authorities and local communities come together to recreate a sustainable ecosystem that not only help art and artists but also revives the local communities, artisans and brings back a sense of belonging and pride in our common heritage. I saw artworks involving artisans, weavers, washer men etc at various installations making the experience sublime and not snobbish.  It is heartwarming to see the yesterday’s warehouses, bungalows, etc. that were decaying in neglect suddenly get a new lease of life and transform in art hotspots. And what a hotspot for art Fort Kochi has become, you are not in some snobbish art gallery, but you are in company of local residents going on with their day-to-day chores, a truck unloading sacks of spices, a rice merchant talking on phone, a housewife waiting for the kids to come back from school.

“Art and life as you know it, are enjoying their courtship in the back lanes of Fort Kochi and the  Kochi Muziris Biennale is ensuring that this relations is nurtured and keeps on renewing the vows enhancing the vigor and passion in this love affair.”

Some brick work art at  Kochi Muziris Biennale CSI Bungalow

CSI Bungalow: Those little things on table are miniature building blocks or bricks

The other major role the Kochi Muziris Biennale plays is to bring upcoming artist to the forefront of the art scene. It was indeed wonderful to meet students from Kashmir and understand their art project. The Kochi Muziris Biennale works at multiple levels on side is the main exhibition which has a ticketed entry, but parallel to the same many other partner/ student and collateral projects run during the Kochi Muziris Biennale and there is no entry ticket to most of them. A lot of volunteers participate in the Biennale to make sure a smooth run.

A Wall of Art :  Kochi Muziris Biennale

A Brick wall with each brick as a canvas for artist

As I had only a day and half in Fort Kochi I could cover may be only 10% of the Kochi Muziris Biennale, so if you are serious art lover ( or even if you have a good sense of humor), I would suggest you take out a minimum of 2-3 days to enjoy the Biennale to the fullest.

Brick wall art  Kochi Muziris Biennale

This is a single brick with 10  piercing eyes

Tounges on a wall  Kochi Muziris Biennale

Tongues coming out from a wall

Besides the art exhibition there are regular live shows where you can watch eminent artists both from India and abroad perform, and interact with the visitors.  Most of the venues are within walking distance except Durbar hall which is in Ernakulum so it is best to take a ferry to the same unless you want to get stuck in the Cochin traffic.

Art lor life sewing Kochi-Muziris Biennale

A sewing machine? An Artwork ? A statement ? You decide

Here is some useful information about the Kochi Muziris Biennale

Dates: 12 /12 /2014 to 29 /3/2015

Artistic Director: Jitish Kallat

Ticket: Rs 100 for adults and Rs 50 or kids up to 15.

Timings: From  9 am to 5 pm for the art galleries. Please check  follow the Biennale on Twitter and Facebook for latest updates.

The ticket comes with a very useful map, so don’t leave the counter without the map. When I was at the counter due to some reasons map was not available, but I waited and chatted with the guys there and trust me the map was worth it.

For a complete information visit the website here:  Kochi Muziris Biennale

Note to the reader and artists:  My apologies for not sharing the names of the artists whose work I am showcasing here, as when I visited the Biennale I did not have this post in my mind and I genuinely visited to see the artwork and just casually clicked some pictures.  If you know the name of any of the artists whose work has been shown here please mention in comments and I will update the post with credit.

 Kochi Muziris Biennale : Students Project

Well with so much art around I was bound to try to click an artistic picture – What do you say ?

Route map to Kochi Muziris Biennale: Though you will get a map with your ticket here is the route that I followed on my walk and it will take you 4-5 hours to slowly walk and enjoy all the galleries on the way. But you can take more or less depending on the time available to you.

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  54 Responses to “Kochi Muziris Biennale”

Comments (53) Pingbacks (1)
  1. great art works. i just find it weird the tongue coming out of the wall. i don’t know why. lol

  2. The place really looks great and I love the arts especially how they used the bricks as their canvas; that’s a very unique concept/idea for me. How I wish this place is just a few blocks away from me. I would really pay a visit.

  3. so much interesting stuff 🙂

  4. We missed Jew Town. I think it was closed for lunch when we visited. It’s a lovely place, more touristy I thought but the freshest seafood.

  5. What an amazing time well spent in Fort Kochi! Tourists even though they are not passionate art lovers will see the beauty in all the different art creations and forms. It’s also great to hear that you can interact with some of the artists and probably pick their minds.

  6. i love art as its always nice to see it in the artists eyes. the art in the photos looks great

  7. Try walking around in Goa – one of the most relaxed places in India to walk and to discover layers of a city nothing like walking in Delhi.

  8. I almost went to Kochi this year for the biennale. Argh! Now I have to wait two more years!

    Also, nice to know Kochi is best explored on foot.

  9. A very good post to read to end my day. Nice photos too.

  10. What a fun outing and an impressive collection of artwork. I love that there is so much variety to see and enjoy. I’ve always loved art installations, so some of these spoke to my heart.

  11. I love art in all its forms, and I am especially impressed by Banjara rope walkers traditions. The other pic that caught my attention is that of the open air art installation created in order to celebrate the hard work of the Port Workers. Amazing!

  12. Cool art scene. I hope you get the names of the artist so they can be credited for their works. I am sometimes like that. I do not have that meticulous blogger mindset. I forget about the details and I just blog about how I feel visiting a place. -katrina centeno

  13. wow my favorite is the brick wall. great post bro!

  14. I don’t always enjoy art which I can’t interpret, but the burger consuming us as a symbol of globalization is something I would enjoy. That place looks very interesting.

  15. Is this in India? Very interesting artwork. Should be great to visit for art lovers. – Fred

  16. Wow! Your pictures and experience are amazing! There’s so much to learn when traveling by foot. The art exhibition can be a great inspiration for aspiring artists and students.

  17. The artwork really looks amazing in these photos especially. I would really enjoy it. My favorite one is of the tongues sticking out of the wall.

  18. Wow! never know about Fort Kochi before this. Indeed it is an open air art gallery and I find that the BC Gallery really an unique art by itself. Hope I can visit there one day.

  19. These are unique art pieces that require people who understand them and appreciate them… Thanks for trying explain these to us!

  20. i love all the pictures! everything is so artistic and beautiful! i like how you interpret the statue of the monkey! i’ll probably (boringly) interpret it as: this (ball in his hand) fell from that tree! lol

  21. Fun museum! Seems like a great place to visit. I am a fan of your travel adventures!

  22. And what beautiful pictures your walked resulted in!

  23. Wow! Great photos and write-up! I’d love to visit and take a walk at Fort Kochi too, given a chance. Would love to see the Kochi Muziris Biennale, but I don’t think I’ll be able to visit within the time frame. >.< Anyhow, I'm glad to have read your post. It somehow feels like I was also there, checking out these beautiful artworks. 🙂

  24. Nice coverage of the Biennale. Love this art festival at Kochi.

  25. Wow!! So much creativity, there.
    I’d like to do an art walk there. Let me see if I can manage to do it this time.

    Thank you for sharing some pictures

  26. What an wonderful post. Art never fails to amaze. The Biennale is an absolute treasure trove…wow!. I really loved the sewing machine installation.

  27. Hi

    This post was informative, good to read with some very nice clicks.
    Fort Kochi is indeed an awesome place.
    I visited it 2 years back, on my honeymoon trip to Kerala.


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