Azora By Ayatana Showcases A Beautiful Part Of The Kochi- Muziris Biennale This Year
23rd February, 2023, India: Graced by the Arabian Sea on one side and filled with rich colonial history, the port city of Kochi once served as a strategic harbor flourishing in trade. With a blend of cultures that can be traced back to Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British and other foreign traders that came in for Kochi’s spices centuries ago, the city is now home to more than 40 communities residing together.
On a walk down the quaint streets of Fort Kochi amidst shopping streets lined with regal hotels and preserved history of colonial times, it is fascinating to witness that the area is all about art. From unique heritage architecture to jazzy street art, the city is known for its visual aesthetics. For this very reason, the city also holds The Kochi-Muziris Biennale; India’s first-ever biennale of international contemporary art, which has become highly relevant to today’s Indian landscape politically, socially, culturally, philosophically and artistically.
Perfectly embodying the essence of the festival to reflect ancient heritage with a touch of modernity is Azora by Ayatana. A one-of-a-kind addition to the city’s architecture, Azora has been hand-picked to be one of the few locations to host the biennale. Formerly used as a warehouse for coffee and spice exports, Azora is a beautiful structure that pays homage to Mattacherry’s history and hospitality. The hotel boasts a gym, swimming pool, restaurant, conference hall and coffee house, along with luxurious rooms.
“We are ecstatic to be hosting the exhibition, which has been such an important part of the art scene in the world. A 200-year-old courthouse turned into a luxury property, Azora is the epitome of modern architecture and design portraying the deep history of Fort Kochi. The venue is a perfect example of the restoration of an iconic landmark that showcases the city’s culture to all the national and foreign visitors, and its popularity is growing exponentially,” says Vishal Vincent, Founder and Managing Director of Ayatana.
Lovingly known as ‘The People’s Biennale’ because of its cooperation with the local economy and the high number of local visitors along with the widespread support it has garnered through the years from local and international communities, the KMB hosts an exhibition every alternate year. This year, their fifth edition hosts a spectacular list of artists from all over the world for over four months. Taking place in various heritage venues across Fort Kochi including Aspinwall House, Pepper House, David Hall, Dutch Warehouse and more, the biennale represents a bridge between an innovative modern present day and a prosperous past.
“Kochi is the ideal space to host the Biennale, with its secular multiculturalism and 44 different communities living together, unlike any other place in the world. The initial idea was to turn the city’s heritage sites, spice godowns and other sustainable spaces into art venues. Azora by Ayatana is placed at the ideal location and is closely connected to the art scene. Previously a courthouse, it is beautifully designed with characteristics of old heritage as well as contemporaneity that complement each other perfectly, reflecting Fort Kochi’s passion for art and culture. I can guarantee that this would be one of the most sought-after places in the city,” says Bose Krishnamachari, President and Director of Biennale.
Artist and writer Shubigi Rao, this year’s curator, hopes this collection will embody the joy of experiencing the practices of divergent sensibilities under joyful and grim conditions. The Biennale includes a list of 85+ artists from all over the world with five programs. The theme for this year “In Our Veins Flow Ink and Fire” aims to draw people to showcase the solidarity of art gathered from all around the world. It is inspired by the collective oneness of art and its experience.
This edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale consolidates the joy and the dreary, each crucial to the other’s existence. It yearns to portray our disillusioned isolation, and that the existence of an impossible idea is feasible if an ample number of people live as if it already does. The exhibition began on the 12th of December, 2022 and will go on till the 10th of April, 2023.
When asked about future plans for Biennale, Bose says “Our goal is to get the appreciation for art to sustain in the country. With various aspects including art residencies, a series of talks and international exchange programmes, Biennale celebrates the diversity of art culture across the globe and each edition takes more than 2 years to plan.. With the aim to explore the introduction of a ‘design Biennale’ for the future, we look forward to announcing the lead curator for the next season and hope to keep the celebration going for years to come.”
Ideated, initiated, curated and run purely by artists, the Kochi Biennale Foundation is a charitable public organisation with various verticals bringing together aesthetes and thereby cultures from across the globe.