India's first biennale art festival, billed as the largest international contemporary art event ever to take place in the country, will be held here in over 2.6 lakh sq. feet of space, much of it historically important and never before thrown open to the public.
Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012, to begin on Dec 12 this year and continue for three months, is aimed at creating a platform for contemporary art in India.
In support of this aim, the government, businesses and land owners have granted the foundation that is organising the event free use of space, as the event itself is a not-for-profit one.
The biennale will see artists from across the world converging here, and organisers hope that the event will offer Indian artists an international platform.
Riyas Komu, director of programmes of the biennale, said contemporary visual art mediums - including painting, sculpture, indoor and outdoor installation, film, digital media and performance art - would all find expression at the event.
Aspinwall House, a large colonial-era trading compound with a variety of structures including offices, warehouses and a residential bungalow totalling 1,60,000 sq ft, has been transformed into an exhibition space. DLF Limited has offered Aspinwall House to the biennale for free use during the event.
Pepper House, a historic spice trading godown with Dutch-style clay roof and a large courtyard, once used to store goods for loading onto ships anchored in Kochi harbour, will also be transformed into a space for exhibition and art residency studios.
Incidentally, both these grand heritage properties have never before been open to the public.
Primary biennale venues include the 150-year old Durbar Hall in downtown Kochi, recently renovated by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, and David Hall, a restored Dutch bungalow in Fort Kochi.
Numerous other spice warehouses, heritage structures, theatres, halls and public spaces are also on the map of this city-wide exhibition of art.
Artists from Australia, Afghanistan, the UAE, South Korea, Argentina, Netherlands, the UK, and all over India have started work on art projects for exhibition at the biennale already.