Kochi biennale: An act of coming together, of building community

Updated - April 14, 2023 08:40 am IST

Published - April 13, 2023 08:06 pm IST - KOCHI

Shubigi Rao, curator of the just-concluded edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. File.

Shubigi Rao, curator of the just-concluded edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. File.

Shubigi Rao, curator of the just-concluded edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, spent almost four years preparing for the show that finally opened after two deferments and a pandemic-driven cancellation on December 23, 2022.

“It was a really long build up. I was initially worried about the relevance of my premise, but the essence of my curatorial theme remained the same as I had envisioned in 2019. The issues and ideas remained as urgent because the pandemic laid bare the inequities that had always existed and about which my curating and the artists’ works were concerned,” she says. 

While it has been an intense experience — “exhilarating, but needlessly frustrating at times, it also reaffirmed my belief in the power of community”, says Shubigi. “When curating a biennale of this magnitude, it is possible to consider it an act of coming together, of building community,” she adds. 

A visitor at the biennale

A visitor at the biennale | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The artists, the artworks and the hundreds of volunteers, workers, production people who worked on the biennale were working towards a common goal. “This is extremely political in the broader sense of the word, and despite what some may think, political is not a bad word. It describes a pushback against apathy, and the intent and actions that are necessary for change to occur.” 

Despite the odds, the exhibition was strong, says Shubigi, adding that many of the challenges, however, were avoidable. “Pain and suffering are not a prerequisite for something magical to happen,” she says.

Also read: It’s a tight rope walk for biennale foundation

With curtains having come down on the KMB, Shubigi says she will not be taking a break, but getting back to her own work and shows, which had also got delayed in the process. 

She is at present preparing for a solo show at Rockbund Museum in Shanghai in November. And a survey of her work, ‘Eating One’s Tail’ is on at Hong Kong.

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