'Today's nationalism different from Independence era'

Siddhi Jain   |  Mumbai


The "secular world" is now "very different" from what it used to be and the nationalism witnessed in the country now is not what existed in the pre-Independence era, according to artist-curator Bose Krishnamachari, who is the president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF).

India is going through a different phase now, opined the 56-year-old Kerala-born and Mumbai-based artist.

"The nationalism that we saw and learned from history in the 1940s is not the nationalism that we see today," he told IANS over phone.
"The secular world that we used to talk about is very different now. It's not so good to hear when you listen to present tone of it," he said, adding "You see these kind of changes in some pockets -- some cities you find it in."

The senior artist, who has the Charles Wallace India Trust Award (1999) and the Kerala Lalit Kala Akademi Award (1985) to his credit, was responding when asked if he feels that Indian art is witnessing an ideological and cultural revolution.

Speaking on the just-held Kochi Biennale, Krishnamachari said these events become like temporary museums for people and that is what makes it beautiful. "The key is to keep things active and well planned," he added.

The artist, who co-founded the Kochi-Muziris Biennale on the lines of the Venice Biennale, with its first edition being held in 2012 in Kerala's Kochi, said the city is now thought of as a strong concentration point for Indian art, as it drew at least 5,00,000 lakh visitors in just its third edition.

Lacunae in Indian art remain and events like the Biennale become sites of learning and education, he said.

He felt that India's second-ever participation in the 120-year-old Venice Biennale in 2019, albeit a great moment, should turn into a permanent one exhibiting the work of new artists and curators.

"India has a great wealth of artists, but we never packaged it to the public and to the international audience. In our cultural policy-making also, we never gave that importance to art and culture.

"Look at Europe, look at China. There are reports that in some countries, 80 percent tourists are cultural tourists. They protect museums, and keep having great programs. We've to learn from all this," Krishnamachari said.

Calling Venice Biennale a great moment for India, he lauded its India Pavilion curator Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.

"Individuals like Kiran Nadar, who is a big and serious art collector in the world, have played a big role in securing this participation since we have to approach the biennale for participation."

He added: "There are close to 32 pavilions in Venice, and it is time India should have a permanent pavilion of its own at the Venice Biennale. Every time we should only find new artists and curators to participate in the Venice Biennale. So what is really required is planning for the future."

Krishnamachari refused to comment on the dropping of an enquiry into the #MeToo allegations against Kochi Biennale's co-founder Riyas Komu, which was announced in a recent statement by the KBF.-IANS