Art & Entertainment

Kochi Muziris Biennale 2023: A Look Back At 'In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire'

As Kochi Muziris Biennale 2022-23 ends, we revisit Outlook's March 2023 issue 'Art For Our Sake' which explores the importance of reclaiming spaces for art and its role in the current socio-politics of India.

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Artwork by Australian Aboriginal artist Richard Bell on display at Kochi Muziris Biennale
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The fifth edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2022-23 is set to end after running for four months across venues in Kerala. Inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in December, this year's biennale was curated around the theme "In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire" and is set to culminate on April 10, 2023.

Featuring a wide range of artworks by nearly 90 artists worldwide, the exhibition traveled to different venues including Fort Kochi, Mattancherry and Ernakulam. Curated by Shubigi Rao, the Biennale is an engaging experience with ongoing events; discussions, films, musical performances, workshops and seminars.

Outlook's March 2023 issue 'Art For Our Sake' looked at how this year, the Biennale provided a commentary on war, despair, hunger and the synthesis of art. The introduction to the issue titled 'Bulwark Against Despair' looks at how the fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale succeeds in reclaiming spaces for art,  to reflect on its politics in our lives.

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The issue also looked at how resistance and revolution remain important motifs in art across the world. Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova's Palianytsia, for instance, reflects the defiance of the nation in resisting a more powerful aggressor. Khadyrova, forced to leave Kiev two weeks after the Russians invaded her country in February 2022, created Palianytsia, which was on display at Kochi, to raise awareness and funds for the military effort in Ukraine.

In artist Jithinlal NR's 'Wounds and Stars', the human leg occurs as a recurring motif as an embodiment of the lowest rung of an oppressive caste system. 

Artist Seher Shah's installation looked at cities as a site for identity, conflict, and resilience. 

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Outlook also looked at how the artworks of Aboriginal and Adivasi artists reflect on themes like the politics of dispossession, resistance, suffering, suppression, and healing.

While Nepal-based artist Mekh Limbu depicts dream sequences in his paintings, striving to preserve Adivasi traditions and languages, Australian artist Richard Bell maps the spirit of the aboriginal resistance by setting up a tent at the exhibition site named 'Aboriginal Embassy'.  "White invaders you are living in stolen lands," read a poster stuck on the tent.

As the Biennale comes to an end, Outlook revisits some of the most impactful works that were on display this year by way of reflecting on the place and role of art in today's times.

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