History Now

History Now

Seminars & Talks

The talks and seminars series titled History Now seeks to complement the central exhibition at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014. The project brings a range of subjects and thinkers into contact with each other to address historically relevant issues impacting on our world today.  This initiative intends to further the intellectual and cultural objectives of the Kochi Biennale Foundation and to pursue its specific interest, which is to explore several centuries of cosmopolitanism associated with the port city of Kochi. The globe is being continually re-mapped by shifting cross-currents of trade and labour, ideologies and visions, solidarities and conflicts.  The ‘Now’ of the talks series treats the contemporary as an urgent object of inquiry.

History Now will run parallel to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 and will be held at the Pavilion at Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi.


January 09, 2015 (Friday)

International Seminar on Maritime Heritage with Reference to Muziris

Organised by: Indian Museum, Kolkata; Institut de Chandernagor, Kolkata; Kochi-Muziris Biennale

9AM – 10AM: Inauguration

10AM – 12PM

Session 1

  1. Rila Mukherjee – Seascapes: IdC and Maritime heritage
  2. MN Pearson – Introducing the Indian Ocean World
  3. K. R. Hall – Muziris in Wider Eastern Indian Ocean context
  4. Tansen Sen – The Malabar coast and China: 12 – 14 centuries

12 PM – 1.30 PM

Session 2

  1. B Venugopal – Museum role in Indigenous Botanical knowledge: Hortus Malabaricus
  2. K K N Kurup – Maritime heritage and Indigenous technology: Ship-building in Malabar
  3. V D Sathessan – People’s role in MHP

1.30 PM – 2.30 PM: Lunch

2.30 PM – 4 PM

Session 3

  1. P N Ravindran – Spices- India’s contribution to human taste and health
  2. M K Prasad – Maritime heritage of Muziris
  3. Benny Kuriakose – Muziris Heritage Project: Its potential

4 PM – 5 PM: Valediction

5 PM – 6 PM

Film Screening

Samuel Berthet – The Early contacts, the birth of navigation and the Malabar coast

January 10, 2015 (Thursday)

Field Visit – MHP sites, Pattanam etc

January 11 (Sunday)

Antimonuments and Subsculptures

Let’s Talk with Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Time: 5 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer develops interactive installations that are at the intersection of architecture and performance art. His main interest is in creating platforms for public participation, by perverting technologies such as robotics, computerized surveillance or telematic networks. Inspired by phantasmagoria, carnival and animatronics, his light and shadow works are “antimonuments for alien agency”.

January 16 (Friday)

Bestowing Fort Kochi with UNESCO World Heritage Site Status

Speakers: Karan Grover, KT Ravindran
Time: 4 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

Karan Grover is an architect and a passionate advocate of the need to look at ones culture and heritage for clues as to the direction for a contemporary architecture and sustainable development relevant to the Indian context today. Winner of all the Indian Awards for Excellence in Architecture and Interior Design; he led India’s nominations for UNESCO’s World Heritage Site status for Champaner after a 22-year campaign.

Prof KT Ravindran is Dean Emeritus at the RICS School of Built Environment. He was earlier a Dean and Professor and HoD of Urban Design at School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi for over two decades. He is also the Founder and President of the Institute of Urban Designers – India, a professional association of qualified urban designers. He is a member of the academic boards of a number of universities in India and teaches classes such as “Urban Morphology” and “Humanizing Cities”. His work focuses on the development of cities, and more specifically on the inclusion and conservation of heritage buildings in modern urban spaces.

January 22 (Thursday)

Art of Democracy
Let’s Talk with Jérôme Poggi

Time: 5 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

The lecture introduces the ‘Nouveaux Commanditaires’ (New Patrons) programme and its commitment to commissioning artworks that respond directly to issues of public interest and are sited and contextualised within the terms of civil society. Since the early 1990s, the New Patrons project has invited citizens to propose and develop works with artists and mediators that negotiate and address a range of local concerns. More than 400 works have commissioned mainly in France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain, etc.

Jérôme Poggi is the founder and director of Gallery Jerome Poggi in Paris. He also runs the not-for-profit organization  SOCIETIES through which he participates in the New Patrons programme in Paris. As an art historian and art critic, he has directed a series of films with François Hers about the most emblematic commissions achieved during the last twenty years.

January 24 (Saturday)

The Many Bodies of Architecture
Let’s Talk with Gabriel Beckinger

Time: 5 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

Gabriel Beckinger was born in Paris in 1984, and studied architecture in France, Belgium and India. He works at the intersection of performance, architecture and video. His work has been exhibited in Paris, Brussels, Reykjavik and Venice. Currently, he is working on a new project in India through the residency WAA in Mumbai.

Rem Koolhaas, the curator of the 14th Architecture Biennale of Venice, proposed to extend the biennale for a six month period. Invited to realise a choreographical proposal, Gabriel Beckinger conceived The Many Bodies of Architecture, a performance composed as an ensemble of the seven scenes of the exhibition.  By questioning the relationship between architecture and its role in the context of this exhibition, Beckinger brings to the foreground the cinematic function, and also the technical, gestural and symbolic idiosyncrasies of a steady cam camera operator. Through a speculation into the representation of architecture by way of video as well as a play within the conditions particular to an exhibition context, Beckinger displaces the visitor amid different states of presence: a character in an imaginary film scene as well as a spectator to a choreography in which they themselves also hold the role of a performer.

January 25 – 26 ( Sunday – Monday)

Contested Spaces

Lecture series by artists and art educators at the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, UK

Speakers: Sunil Manghani, Ed D’Souza, Ryan Bishop, August Davis

Lecture 1 (4.30 – 5.30 pm, Jan 25)
The Biennale Effect

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale has been aptly characterized as being ‘against all odds’. This lecture examines the contesting forces acting upon and stemming from the establishment of the Biennale, as set within a consideration of the critical relationships between art, city-space and histories as they emerge in local-global conditions.

Lecture 2 (5.30 – 6.30 pm, Jan 25)
Contemporary Curatorial Practices

In the context of widening debates of global and contemporary art, and set against shifting expectations and aspirations of galleries, artists, curators and audiences, the lecture will explore the dynamics and tensions of contemporary curatorial practices.

Lecture 3 (4.30 – 5.30 pm, Jan 26)
A National or a Visual Culture?

The shift from Art History to Visual Culture Studies has been viewed as both complicit with global capital and a progressive force, opening up what Jacques Rancière has termed the ‘division of the sensible’. This lecture situates these debates with regards to the production and reception of Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Lecture 4 (5.30 – 6.30 pm, Jan 26)
End of Empire: Robert E. D’Souza in conversation

The talk will offer critical consideration of D’Souza’s art practice, with specific reference to End of Empire showing at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, a work derived from his earlier solo exhibition ‘Outside India’ (Delhi, 2012).

February 03, 2014 (Tuesday)

Let’s Talk with Mona Hatoum

Time: 5 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

Palestinian-British artist Mona Hatoum will present a survey of her work and speak about the trajectory of and ideas behind her art practice. Hatoum’s Undercurrent and Routes AP are exhibited at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014.

February 04 – 05, 2014 (Wednesday – Thursday)

Peripheries of Globalization: Re-mapping the global contemporary through Biennales and Triennales

Time: 10.30 am – 5.30 pm (Feb 4 & 5)

Venue: The Pavilion, Aspwinwall House

Organisers: Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Art), Delhi in association with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Concept Note: This forum could conduct an inquiry into artistic practices that consciously subvert centres of power and market, and imagine alternative frameworks of ‘value’ for aesthetics and knowledge with a special focus on zones of artistic production that fall outside of the geo-political configuration that has been defined by globalization. This could also look at the potential of biennales and triennales as sites that are indicative of a shift in the contemporary reading of artworks and their processes, in order to look at ways in which these spaces are increasingly vital in our times, as opposed to ‘interpretive’ models encouraged by museums. Especially, as biennales and triennales function as immersive spaces where ‘encounters’ can be staged. Here, the viewer functions as a spectator-participant who becomes an actor in the work of art, initiating a process of meaning-making that is not informed by the aesthetic value judgments or an art historically conditioned gaze, but lies at the confluence of the socio-political and cultural contexts of the work and the viewer-subject. This reading treats the work of art not as representations but are re-presentations of contemporary realities and gaps in perception. The papers could potentially study existing artistic practices that function through such aesthetics and imagine new ways in which this capacity of the biennale and triennale circuits can be amplified, within the context of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and Triennale India.

February 4 – Day 1

10.30 am – Inauguration

11.15 am – Session 1
Gieve Patel
Chair: Girish Shahane

2.00 pm – Session 2
Gayatri Sinha
Girish Shahane
Chair: Nancy Adajania

February 5 – Day 2

10.30 am – Session 3
Ranbir Kaleka
Nancy Adajania
Chair: Gayatri Sinha

2.15 pm – Session 4
Sadanand Menon
Chair: Gieve Patel

5.00 pm – Valediction

February 05, 2014 (Thursday)

In Conversation with Vanessa Branson

Time: 6 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

Vanessa Branson is founder-director of the Marrakech Biennale. She was also co-founding curator of the Wonderful Fund Collection between 1999 and 2004. She established and directed the Portobello Arts Festival in 1987, 1988 and 1989.

February 06, 2014 (Friday)

Let’s Talk with Roger Buergel

Time: 6 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

Roger Buergel is a renowned curator and writer. His curatorial work includes Governmentality: Art in conflict with the international hyper-bourgeoisie and the national petty bourgeoisie in Hannover (2000), The Government in Miami, Rotterdam and Vienna (2002-5), documenta XII in Kassel (2007), and Busan Biennale 2012. He is currently Director, Johann Jacobs Museum, Zurich.

February 7-8, 2015 (Saturday-Sunday)

Circulation of Ideas and Practices, and the Making of Publics

Jointly presented by Inter-Asia School and Kochi-Muziris Biennale in cooperation with Asia Art Archive

The rapid rise of contemporary art biennales in Asia testifies to the power of art in creating dynamic sites where new publics emerge. This forum looks at examples, historical and contemporary, of the ways publics are formed around the circulation of ideas and cultural practices in Asia, and investigates their role as resources for establishing social and political spaces in Asia.

February 7

10.30 – 10.40
Opening Speech by Chang Tsong-Zung

Session 1 (Music)
10.40 – 12.30

Hosted by Huang Sun Quan
Tejaswini Niranjana, ‘Musicophilia and the Public Domain: Hindustani Sangeet in Bombay/Mumbai’
Discussants: Sumangala Damodaran, Ding Naifei

12.30 – 13.30

Session 2 (Film)
13.30 – 15.20

Hosted by Hilmar Farid
Ashish Rajadyaksha, ‘Considering the Career of a Trans-Cinema in India: When Movies Go Beyond the Screen’
Discussants: Huang Sun Quan, Yoshihiko Ikegami

15.20 – 15.40
Tea Break

Session 3 (Art)
15.40 – 17.30

Hosted by Chang Tsong-Zung
Jitish Kallat, ‘A Whirled View: The Making of ‘Whorled Explorations’’
Discussants: Lu Xinghua

18.30 – 19.00
Inauguration of Chinese Documentary Package at Artists’ Cinema, curated by Ashish Rajadhyaksha
Chang Tsong-Zung, Kuan-Hsing Chen, Ashish Rajadhyaksha


February 8, 2015

Session 4 (Writing)
10.30 – 12.20

Hosted by Tejaswini Niranjana
Sabih Ahmad, ‘Crossing the Lines of Sight: Traversing Multi-lingual Histories of Visual Art’
Discussants: Kuan-Hsing Chen, Hilmar Farid

12.20 – 13.30

Session 5 (Internet)
13.30 – 15.20

Hosted by Yoshihiko Ikegami
Lawrence Liang, ‘Media ki Kshamta: New Media and the Disturbance of Potential’
Discussants: Chang Tsong-Zung, Ngoi Guat Peng

15.20 – 15.40
Tea Break

Special Session
Roundtable on The Third World – 60 Years
15.40 – 18.20

Hosted by Kuan-Hsing Chen
Ravi Sundaram, ‘The Third World in Ruins? Bandung as Myth and Event for the Contemporary’
Hilmar Farid, ‘Rethinking Tricontinentalism: A Village Perspective’
Lu Xinghua, ‘Third Worlders as Revolutionaries: The Impossible Reeducation of Intellectuals and Artists in China in 1960s and 2010s’

Closing Speech: Chang Tsong-Zung


February 09, 2014 (Monday)

Cross Pollination: How to Connect Art, Food & Nature

Organisers: Rooting (India): The Knowledge Project
5 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi
Participants: Ravi Agarwal, Jason Taylor, Cheruvayal Raman, Kiran Sadanandan, Akshay Raj Singh Rathore

If we believe we are what we eat, what would happen if we truly valued food and its creation? This discussion connects the creative work of artists, cultural activists, small businesses, and organic farmers to address some of the extreme environmental, social, and economic challenges facing local and global communities in India and the US.


February 24, 2015 (Tuesday)

Material As Metaphor: Performance and the Moving Image

Katja Schenker, artist, in conversation with Manoj Nair, writer and art critic.

Time: 5PM

Venue: The Pavilion, Aspinwall House

February 28, 2015 (Saturday)

A Passage to Infinity: The Kerala Episode

George Gheverghese Joseph on Medieval Kerala Mathematics and its Impact

Date: February 28, 2015

Time: 5 PM

Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi


Professor Joseph will speak about the social and mathematical origins of the Kerala School of Mathematics and discuss the possible transmission of mathematical knowledge to Europe. His presentation will be followed by a Q&A with KMB 2014 curator Jitish Kallat.

George Gheverghese Joseph is an historian and author, best known for his work on the history of mathematics, particularly the Kerala School of Mathematics. He has held university appointments across the world, including in East and Central Africa, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and the UK. His publications include The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics, Multicultural Mathematics: Teaching Mathematics from a Global Perspective, and A Passage to Infinity: Medieval Indian Mathematics from Kerala and its Impact. Books he has edited include Kerala Mathematics: History and its Possible Transmissions to Europe and Knowledge and Cultures: Crossing Boundaries in History.

March 13 – 15, 2015 (Friday – Sunday)

Goshreeperuma | Kochi in Letters


March 13

Time: 6.30 pm
Venue: Changampuzha Park

March 14

Venue: Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam

10 am – Ezhuthalarude Kadaloram | Writers by the Sea
2 pm – Kaviyarangu | Poets Mee

March 15

Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

2 pm – Kochiyude Navukal | The Tongues of Kochi
2.30 pm – Kochiyude Kathakal | Kochi in Writing


March 18, 2015 (Wednesday)

Journey of an Explorer
Let’s Talk with Raghu Rai

Date: March 18, 2015

Time: 5.30 PM

Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi


March 21, 2015 (Saturday)

Urban Space Dialogue

Organisers: Kochi Biennale Foundation and Centre for Public Policy Research in partnership with BMW Cultural Engagement
Time: 4 pm
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

Session 1. Urban Interventions: Reports and Proposals | Nuru Karim, Riyas Komu, Raj Cherubal
Session 2. Urban Space Dialogue | Nuru Karim, Raj Cherubal, Jitish Kallat, D Dhanuraj, Riyas Komu, Bose Krishnamachari

The intent of the dialogue is to generate ideas and proposals for developing urban spaces, with special reference to Kochi. The session will bring together architects, artists, policy makers, scholars as well as residents to discuss city planning, ecology and aesthetics.


March 22, 2015 (Sunday)

Virali Pattu, Valampiri Shankhu, Kannadi Bimbam
Release of Balan Nambiar’s book

Date: March 22, 2015
Time: 5 PM
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi


Welcome Speech: Ravi DC
Presentation: Balan Nambiar
Music Performance: Sivasankaran
Book Release: Sethu
About the Book: Jose Panachipuram
Remarks: Riyas Komu

March 25, 2015 (Wednesday)

Beyond the Cubicle: A Cartoonist Sketches
Let’s Talk with EP Unny


Date: March 25, 2015

Time: 5 PM

Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi


Project Vimaya

Organisers: Tata Institute of Social Sciences in collaboration with Hindustan Petroleum, and hosted by the Kochi-Muziris Biennale
March 25 – 27, 2015
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi

Vimaya means exchange. Artifacts are designed for creating mindful interaction through the use of ‘performative expressions’ in the context of an organisational transformation process. The artifacts fosters mindful interaction and promotes newer possibilities learning among the learners. The Centre for Social and Organisational Leadership (C SOL) at TISS, Mumbai has conceived this project and will collaborate with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) to operationalise this. Project Vimaya aims at creating artifacts for exploring perspective shifts in learning through the use of abstract, metaphoric and realistic representation of the organisational transformation journey of HPCL. While the existing paradigms of teaching and learning need to be revisited in the current complex and dynamic context, Project Vimaya explores the possibilities of mindful learning through artifacts. Project Vimaya underlines the importance of art, explores novel and effective ways of understanding complex situations and offers enough possibilities to enhance managerial effectiveness during the sense-making process.

Pawan Tiwary will make the artifacts that represent the organisationa transformation at HPCL.

March 27, 2015 (Friday)

TD Ramakrishnan’s Sugandhi Enna Andal Devanayika
Book Reading

Date: March 27, 2015
Time: 5 PM
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi


March 27, 2015 (Friday)

Let’s Talk with Valsan Koorma Kolleri

Date: March 27, 2015
Time: 6.30 PM
Venue: Aspinwall House, Fort Kochi