Kochi: Kochi-Muziris Biennale's (KMB) founders Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari have been named among the 100 most influential people in the global contemporary art scene for the third year in a row, in rousing endorsement for both the artists and their pioneering project which has shaped into India's biggest art event and one of the most anticipated biennales on the international art calendar.
The ‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the highly influential ‘Art Review’ magazine of the world's topmost contemporary artists and influencers. Komu and Krishnamachari have been placed 84th in a list that includes China's Ai Wei Wei, who participated in the first edition of the KMB in 2012; Germany's Wolfgang Tillman; French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe; Hans Ulrich Obrist, the Artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries; Bernard Arnault, founder of the Foundation Louis Vuitton; and Miuccia Prada, Italian fashion house designer.
Germany's Artist-as-theorist Hito Steyerl heads the 2017 ranking which only has two other Indian entries: the Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective (39) founded by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and well-known art collector Kiran Nadar (99).
Komu and Krishamachari first made the list in 2015 after the second Kochi-Muziris Biennale ended in March. The Kerala-born artists were the only Indians in the rankings that year.
Their global recognition has come in part from their success in laying the groundwork for the KMB, against all odds, in a country unused to events of this scale and leveraging the historicity and cultural significance of the city of Kochi to lend the KMB a distinct identity among biennales of the world.
‘Art Review’, in its entry, commended Komu and Krishnamachari as having seen through the third edition of KMB curated by artist Sudarshan Shetty. Their individual success as artists was also acknowledged by the magazine, which said, “Krishnamachari’s first solo exhibition in four years, Colour Code, took place in July at Gallery G, Bangalore, for ‘one polychromatic week’”.
“Komu has been continuing to promote contemporary Indian art through URU Art Harbour, a cultural hub housed in an old warehouse in Kochi that he opened in November,” the entry noted. “He recently launched a two-month inaugural exhibition titled ‘Mattancherry ‘– named after the historic quarter in Kochi in which URU Art Harbour is based – bringing together 13 artists and research collectives to reclaim the site from the tourist gaze.”
The third KMB ran from December 2016 to March 2017, featured 97 artists from 31 countries and drew approximately six lakh visitors. The fourth edition which begins in December 2018 will be curated by Anita Dube.