Kochi, December 1: The first Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which captured the imagination of people around the world and catapulted Kerala on to the global map of contemporary art, has taken the top prize at the Condé Nast Traveller Awards for 2013.
Biennale founder-curators and renowned artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari received the Condé Nast Readers’ Travel Awards for excellence in promoting cultural tourism at a glittering ceremony in New Delhi.
The special Condé Nast Traveller award was bestowed on the two Malayalee artists, who are from outside the travel and tourism industry, for their “pioneering efforts in founding the Kochi-Muziris Biennale”.
Presenting the award, Condé Nast lauded the “pioneering efforts of the two accomplished artists” in bringing in artists, curators, critics and aficionados from around the world and creating a platform that showcased “not only brilliant contemporary art from India and around
the world, but also highlighted our rich history, heritage, artistic traditions and cultural fabric”.
Condé Nast Traveller Excellence Awards, recognised across the world as benchmarks in the travel and tourism industry, are given away on the basis of readers’ choices in an online vote.
“We are very happy to receive the award from the people who love travelling,” said Komu, in his acceptance speech. “The legacy of Kochi and Muziris revolves around the idea of travel and the idea of multiculturalism.”
“Look at any civilisation across the world and it had made a connection with the region of Muziris in Kerala. The multiculturalism of Muziris and Kochi is completed by travelling people from all over the world, like the early explorers and traders. Today, Kochi has become a new Art Route, like the Spice Route in the ancient times, for India and the rest of the world,” Komu said.
“This was a Biennale that walked into the people,” he said about the event that drew an attendance of over 400,000 visitors from around the world.
Krishnamachari said: “It is a great achievement of a team that dreamed big and worked hard to make the event become a big success.”
“Support for the Biennale was a progressive and radical decision by the Kerala government; and this is a moment of glory for the government,” he said.
Among those who were present at the awards function held at the ITC Maurya hotel on November 28 were Union Tourism Secretary Shri Parvez Dewan, Kerala Tourism Secretary Shri Suman Billa, Condé Nast India Managing Director Shri Alex Kuruvilla and Condé Nast India Editor Smt. Divia Thani Daswani. The ceremony was attended by the who’s who of India’s travel and tourism industry.
The site-specific Biennale event, held from December 2012 to March 2013, was mounted in historical locations, using abandoned warehouses used for Kerala’s spice trade with the West. The Biennale attracted some of the world’s top artists, including Subodh Gupta, Vivan Sundaram, Paris Vishwanadhan, Sudharshan Shetty, Atul Dodiya, Srinivas Prasad, Sheela Gowda, Jyoti Basu, K P Reji, Anita Dube, Amar Kanwar and Ernesto Neto.
The second Kochi-Muziris Biennale is scheduled to open on December 12, 2014. The Biennale Foundation has announced Mumbai-based Malayalee artist Jitish Kallat as the Curator of the second edition.