Biennale is irremovable from Kochi: MoMA Director Glenn D Lowry

Influential museum head commended KMB 2016’s spaces, curatorial vision after visit on Thursday


Kochi: Describing the Kochi-Muziris Biennale as a landmark event in the contemporary art world, influential art historian and Director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York Glenn D. Lowry said its unique setting lent soul to India’s only Biennale.

“There is a tension in every biennale on how global its reach can be and how local they are in feel. Some biennales can happen anywhere, but the Kochi-Muziris Biennale could not happen anywhere else but Kochi: the artists’ engagement with the historically relevant spaces and the sea that flows along the venues makes this Biennale irremovable from Kochi,” Lowry said.

“There is something magical about how the buildings and the sea here have created spaces for artists to do anything they want. There is a sense of discovery when you wander through these buildings and explore how the artists have created site-specific works that are as powerful as they are thoughtful. That adds meaning to contemporary art,” said Lowry, who has helmed the iconic institution for over two decades.

Following a visit to the ongoing third edition of the Biennale on Thursday, Lowry said he observed a sense of directness and immediacy in the art works on display. “I could feel the presence of the artists and had an immediate engagement with the artworks,” Lowry said.

He marked for special mention the personal archive created by Desmond Lazaro, titled Family Portraits, which traces his family’s histories and individual journeys and gives viewers both a sense of biography and history about the people and places he mentions.

Lowry was also impressed with the sound art installation Prime by American artist Camille Norment, noting that he was deeply moved by the artist’s use of sound in accordance with space. “The way she frames the sea for you and punctuates it with throbbing vibrations on those benches where you sit gives a meditative experience,” he said.

He added that the utilisation of sound as a medium for creative expression was very evident in this edition of the Biennale, taking it to be an acknowledgment of curator Sudarshan Shetty’s childhood spent in the company of music and other performing arts.

“Curatorial visions are catalysts and Sudarshan’s curatorial vision has directed this Biennale in an interesting way where you feel the idea of home, the idea of space, time, and a way in which we as individuals negotiate our way through this world. To this end, sound has been made a very important factor in this Biennale,” Lowry said.

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