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The Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Reclaiming global city status through art

Authors: Elizabeth Chacko*, The George Washington University
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural Geography, Asia
Keywords: Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala, India, contemporary arts exhibition, global city
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, a contemporary art event which showcases the work of Indian and international artists has been held every two years since 2012 in the city of Kochi (formerly Cochin) in Kerala, India. Born in 2010 from a partnership between artists from Kerala and the state government, the Biennale offers a platform for contemporary art that has grown to become a mega event. Promoting Kochi as a destination for world-class artists and for viewing world-class art is one of the primary goals of the Biennale. However, underlying this overarching narrative is a desire to reclaim Kochi’s position as a global cross-roads and cosmopolitan city. Kochi and its mythical predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris, was once an important destination for traders from China and Arabia and European colonizers alike and a melting pot of cultures. This paper offers an analysis of this so-called Tier 2 Indian city’s claim to global status through its recognition as the locale for India’s (and allegedly Asia’s) largest contemporary art event, while drawing on its transnational history, geography, cultures and architecture.

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