Officials deny that the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is winding up before schedule

Visitors to the Durbar Hall art gallery, a venue for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, have been looking at a vacant wall for the past couple of weeks. Organisers of the Biennale say the wall remains blank as they are yet to obtain a video to be displayed here.

The gallery is the only venue of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in mainland Kochi. Many visitors often head to the centrally-located gallery first, before visiting the main venue at Aspinwall House and other venues in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. The gallery has also been one of the most prominent venues for art exhibitions in the city. The gaps in the display thus become more glaring.

The gallery features works by seven artists. While the venue was open to the public from the second day of the Biennale, a group of tapestries by Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa were put up here later.

A volunteer at the venue said a few of the works first exhibited here had to be removed to accommodate Garaicoa’s works.

An official of the biennale, however, said the art work had only been rearranged within Durbar Hall art gallery. Rahul Ravi’s photographs on Kochi’s Jewish heritage had been moved to a corridor of the gallery to make room for the tapestries.

Garaicoa’s work titled ‘End of Silence’ include tapestries that comment on the differences in urban realities of Cuba.

These tapestries have been laid out on the floor and the artist invites viewers to walk on them and experience a part of Cuba’s history. The artist’s note put up near the exhibit, however, mentions that the seven tapestries and two videos of about 16 minutes duration each form the complete installation. But all that is available of the video is the blank wall, leaving visitors confused upon reading the artist’s note.

A Biennale official said they would make the video available soon.

“We didn’t plan on having the video first. Later, we decided to include it too. That’s why there has been a delay in putting it up,” she said. Display of videos had to be cancelled for a few art works at other Biennale venues due to technical reasons. While the venues of the Biennale in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry continue to draw visitors, this central gallery in the city has viewers leaving unimpressed.

Meanwhile, Biennale officials have dismissed reports that the festival would shut down two months ahead of schedule as untrue.

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