Everything You Need To Know About Kochi-Muziris Biennale

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an exhibition that celebrates contemporary art once every two years. You now know it takes place in Kochi, but you might not know how big of a deal it is. It is not just Kerala’s or India’s biggest contemporary art exhibit, it is Asia’s biggest contemporary art exhibit. So let’s take a closer look and find out everything you need to know about Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

How Did It Begin?

It was May 2010 and the culture minister of Kerala wanted a major international art platform in the state. He assigned this task to two capable artists. Bose Krishnamachari, a contemporary artist from Kerala who is known for his paintings and artist-curator work. He was joined by Riyas Komu, another artist from Kerala who works in multimedia. These two brainstormed something that went beyond what was expected from them and on 12 December 2012, the first Kochi-Muziris Biennale became a reality. 

It brought down almost 40 artists from all over the world to Kochi and a similar number of artists from India. KMB took place at several key locations in the city and for three months the city became a living breathing pulsating epicenter of artistic expression. It attracted huge crowds by not just offering exhibitions, but also talks, workshops, seminars and much more. It was a rousing success and set a benchmark for all exhibitions of its kind.

Also Read: Kochi Travel Guide

What Makes It So Special?

It is a contemporary exhibit that takes place over multiple months and in multiple venues. Several national and international artists showcase their best works and it is a treat for anyone and everyone who appreciates art. Its special sauce is the interactive, entertaining ,and educational events that make up its schedule:

Master Practice Studios: It is a perfect kind of event for an exhibit like this. These are workshops for artists by artists. Those who want to learn a new form of art or nourish their existing skills in an art form can sign up for the workshops helmed by established artists. These are not just single sessions, they go on for a month and provide all the insights and little details that are needed for a wholesome learning experience.

Art By Children: It is an arm of KMB that focuses entirely on school kids, their parents and teachers. The most important part of it is the Art Room program, where the participating schools dedicate one room in their building for workshops organised by the Art By Children team. The same team also undertakes special activities and tours for school kids at the KMB. 

Artists’ Cinema: Cinema has always been an integrated part of art. So there’s no doubt that it is one of the biggest attractions here. The Artist’s Cinema is a place to catch entertaining feature films, interesting documentaries, and thought-provoking art films. 

Video Lab: It is a unique event that is all about tinkering around with the medium of video to try and come up with inventive ways and cover contemporary art.

Let’s Talk: A platform that encourages people to have in-depth conversations and prolonged discussions about various cultural practices and art with like-minded people. It goes on for an entire year and there are around 40 such events held during this period. Many interesting minds who hold important positions in the artistic and social fields have been a part of these events in the past. 

Pepper House Residency: It provides artists from all over the world a space away from their homes. A space which becomes the cradle of their next creation, one where their creative juices could flow. This residency provides the artists accommodation right here in Kochi, it provides them studio space and expenses for food and travel. The work created by artists get exhibited at the KMB.

Everything You Need To Know About Kochi-Muziris Biennale

A Quick Glance At Its Past:

Every edition of KBM revolves around an interesting theme. Over the years, some of the themes have been ‘Possibilities for a non-alienated life,’ ‘Forming in the pupil of an eye’ and ‘Whorled Explorations.’ All of these have brought together exceptional art pieces to grace the exhibit. A few of the well-known artists whose work has been displayed here are Goshka Macuga, Shilpa Gupta, Aki Sasamoto and Anamika Haksar.

Also Read: The Ultimate Itinerary: 48 Hours In Kochi

Everything You Need To Know About Kochi-Muziris Biennale

The Upcoming Fifth Edition

This is the Fifth edition of this impactful phenomenon and it was originally supposed to be held in December 2020, but the universe had other plans. KMB is gearing up to make waves again. The curator this time is Shubigi Rao, a writer with an immense amount of experience in the field of contemporary art and is well known for her installations spanning multiple topics. She has presented her work at several international exhibits and is a winner of many prestigious awards. 

So we know right away that KBM is in good hands. The theme for this year is ‘In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire’. The reason behind choosing this theme, in Rao’s own words, comes from her “unshakeable conviction in the power of storytelling as strategy, of the transgressive potency of ink, and transformative fire of optimism and action.” 

Just like its previous editions, the exhibit will take place at multiple venues and they are as follows: 

  • Fort Kochi Area
  • Aspinwall House
  • David Hall
  • Anand Warehouse
  • Cabral Yard
  • Kashi Art Cafe
  • Kashi Town House
  • Dutch Warehouse
  • Armaan Building
  • VKL Warehouse
  • Mocha Art Cafe
  • KVN Arcade
  • TKM Warehouse 

Visitors can expect to see works of popular artists like Arpita Singh, Iman Issa, Samson Young and Yinka Shonibare. There are going to be around 90 artists from India and all over the globe.

Everything You Need To Know About Kochi-Muziris Biennale

How To Attend The Event:

The exhibit takes place over multiple months and venues. It is common for many of its events to overlap. So thoroughly go through the exhibit’s schedule that’s available on its official website to plan out what all you want to attend. If you’re not from Kochi and are traveling here for the festival, then you might as use this opportunity to explore this beautiful city. Now this means you will have to extend the days of your mini vacation. So what? Trust us, it’s gonna be worth it. 

Where To Stay In Kochi: 

There are so many good options available here for people with every budget. From five star hotels that ooze with opulence and luxury to home stays that provide comfort and memorable experiences without hurting your wallet.

Some of the best homestays in Cochin are Sea Hut Homestay, Bastian Homestay, The Pod Cochin Homestay, Valiyathayil Homestay, Prems Homestay, and Riverside Heritage Homestay. On the other hand some of the luxury hotels are Taj Malabar Resort and Spa, Crowne Plaza Hotel, and Le Meridien Hotel.

Everything You Need To Know About Kochi-Muziris Biennale 

Mark The dates:

The exhibit will run from 12 December 2022 to 10 April 2023.


When Was The Last Kochi Biennale?

The last Biennale, which was the fourth edition of the exhibition, took place in 2018. It went on from 12th December 2018 to 29th March 2019.

How Many Days Are Enough For Kochi?

You can cover all the popular tourist spots in two days. But if you’re in a position to extend your stay then we suggest you take out at least five days to fully enjoy what this city has to offer.

Is Kochi Worth Visiting?

Yes! This port city has a fascinating history and parts of which are still evident in its day-to-day life. It is a potpourri of multiple cultures and you are going to fall in love with the aroma. There are so many places to see here! There’s Fort Kochi which is a historically significant spot famous for its Chinese fishing nets. You also have the backwaters of Kochi which should not be missed and the Pallipuram Fort, the oldest surviving European fort in India.

Which Language Is Spoken In Kochi?

Malayalam is the most commonly used language here. Tamil and English are also understood and spoken here. You won’t hear a lot of Hindi in Kochi. People do understand it, but rarely speak in Hindi. If you don’t know Malayalam and Tamil and just use a combination of English and Hindi and you should be fine.

Does Kochi Have Nightlife?

Yes. It has a fine selection of clubs and bars where you have a jolly good time. But don’t expect the parties to go on till 2 am as most of the establishments shut down around 11 pm.

What Food Is Kochi Famous For?

Pazham pori, beef vindaloo, thattu dosa, appam and stew and naadan biryani are some of the most popular dishes in Kochi.

Is Kochi Safe At Night?

Kochi is considered to be safe. But because many of the shops close down at or before 11 pm, the streets become empty around that time. We would advise you to not go out alone or even if you are in a group, just stick to the main areas and not the outskirts.