The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale formally wound up on Thursday with a closing ceremony, where renowned filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan hailed the contemporary art festival as one having become integral to Kerala society, having percolated to the sensibilities of even the common people.

Addressing an evening gathering in downtown Ernakulam, the 77-year-old auteur said the host state can no more imagine its cultural future without the biennale. “This festival has only been bettering with every edition, I must say as someone who has viewed it from inception (in 2012),” he said about the South Asia’s biggest event of its kind.

The 108-day festival concluded on Friday evening with a flag-lowering ceremony at Aspinwall House, the main venue of the event, in Fort Kochi.

The biennale, curated by eminent artist Anita Dube, turned out to be the first anywhere in the world to feature women totalling more than half of its participating artists who came out with 94 projects in ten venues of the heritage city. Based on the curatorial theme of ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’, it sought to explore newer access to art practices while hosting an array of seminars, workshops, lectures, films and stage performances.

At the valedictory ceremony at Darbar Hall Ground on Thursday evening, Adoor said the biennale has become a place where students from various field have been visiting. “This has become one of the top biennale’s in the world. We have seen representations from other biennale visiting and appreciating the works on display and showing their interest in the various artistic projects showcased here,” he added.

Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation that is organising the festival said the latest edition clocked a total footfall of 6.2 lakh people from across the country and abroad. “We believe that the next edition will be bigger. In fact, from 2020, the biennale will be extended up to 120 days.”

Krishnamachari, also an acclaimed artist, extended his thanks to all his team and the curator. “Without all of you, we would not have reached to this successful end. Special thanks to the 2018 curator Dube. She dealt with some important subjects.”

Dube said she hoped to have delivered what she promised of bringing out a biennale that is more inclusive. “This biennale meant to show the struggle the women in society face in their day-to-day life,” she said. “Through my curatorial efforts, I ensured that young artists get a platform to showcases their work. Pleasure combined with pedagogy was the overriding theme.” Trustee N S Madhavan announced the Student’s Biennale winners at the ceremony.

Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran said the biennale, coming within four months of the floods that devastated the state last monsoon, helped the state regain its influx of travellers to God’s Own Kerala. “I take this opportunity to thank the biennale that has compelled tourists to visit Kerala after the floods,” he added.

By Manoj

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