We are invited artists of the 2022–23 edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), which was officially postponed the night before the opening on December 12, 2022. This fifth edition of the Biennale—delayed twice due to the pandemic and four years in the making—has been a labor of love for many of us. It is now scheduled to open on December 23, 2022.

The KMB has been a unique space for creative expression, conversation, and dissent that we have come to value over the last ten years. Equally treasured is its diverse and engaged audience. However, we want to express our concern and shock at the way the Biennale has unfolded this year.

We write this letter in the spirit of wanting the KMB to thrive, as a forum for contemporary art and ideas. The experiences of the invited artists from this year and past editions offer an opportunity to radically transform the KMB as an event and institution—changes that are clearly, urgently needed.

Dear….( Artist’s name, sent to participating artists at the main biennale)

At the outset we wish to thank all the artists for reaching out to us, pointing out lapses on our part and offering constructive criticism. Your firm commitment to the Kochi Muziris Biennale was evidenced by the fact that when we had to skip the 2020-21 edition of the Biennale due to the pandemic, almost all the artists stood by us. Steadfast support from the artistic community is our strength, and that is what inspires us to continue with this journey.

As regarding serious shortfalls pointed out by you, we take full accountability and responsibility for operational failures, lack of interpersonal communications leaving behind an avoidable sense of neglect. As an artist-led and run biennale, we realize that we have disappointed the very core of our perspectives and ambition – the artists – and we outright acknowledge the fair criticism, positions and feedback offered by the artists, stakeholders, supporters and our own teams.

There is also the single most important issue of last minute postponement, which caused a great deal of misery to artists and stakeholders. Ever since the sites were made available just days before the show, the thought of postponement was under active consideration. Reviews brought out that the rate of progress of production work was similar to those of previous editions. Untimely cyclonic rains did interfere, but in the end it was a grievous error of judgment.

We realize that our lapses are indefensible, but at the same time, we do wish that they are not unforgivable. Kindly accept our sincerest apologies for all the distress occurred prior to and/or during the process of installing the exhibition. We offer no excuses, and hope to progress with your support and counsel towards being a better, accountable institution and community.

You had taken pains to point out operational, production, financial and organizational deficiencies in the conduct of the Biennale. As an organization with a ten-year legacy, many of these issues should not have happened. Unfortunately poor finances, attrition of manpower, pandemic, uncertainties regarding sites, all affected us gravely. The Board of Trustees has decided to take a hard look at these issues during the first quarter of 2023, and plan to bring forth necessary institutional reforms with expert feedback and plans, so that these issues don’t repeat. Your statement is a valuable input in that process. The results of the review would also be put in the public domain with resolutions mentioned.

Please accept our sincere apologies once again for the inconvenience and distress caused. We hope that this Biennale, now that it is open, will once again deliver the ‘unique space for creative expression, learning, conversation, and dissent’ that we all value.

Bose Krishnamchari
on behalf of the Managing Committee of the Board of Trustees