Thiruvananthapuram: India's first biennale art festival Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012, to be held in Kerala next month, appears to be heading for trouble after a leaked report revealed that the government has recommended a probe against the organisers for misuse of funds. The report of the inspection wing of the state finance department, which found its way to the media, says the government should "blacklist" organisers Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) for the way they used the Rs 5 crore grant provided by the previous state government in 2010.
Billed as one of the largest international contemporary art events ever to take place in the country, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012 is aimed at creating a platform for contemporary art in India. The three-month-long show will see participation of 88 artists from about 35 countries, including 40 from India, exhibiting their artworks created from a variety of mediums such as films, paintings, sculptures, new media and performance art. This event is the only destination in the country mentioned among the "13 cultural events to be seen" by Forbes Magazine and is scheduled to be launched on Dec 12 in Kochi.
State Culture Minister K.C. Joseph told IANS that he was yet to see the report, but if the findings of the finance department were true then it was a matter of grave concern. "We will get to see the report soon. From what I have read and heard in the media, it appears that there is a serious lapse. If the findings are found to be true then the government would have to think twice whether we are to associate with the organisers," Joseph said.
But Riyas Komu, KBF co-founder and director of programmes of the event denied any wrong doing. "The Kochi Durbar Hall has been renovated using the money. It was turned into a world-class exhibition venue. Why is it that no one is speaking about that," Komu said.
Artists from Kerala, however, are up in arms against organisers. Kanayi Kunhiraman, 75-year-old sculptor and former chairman of the Lalit Kala Academy, said it was sad that the situation was allowed to get out of hand. "There is a lot of money involved in organising the event. Even a portion of this grant could have given a new lease of life to numerous artists from our state," said Kunhiraman.
Komu, however, expressed surprise over Kunhiraman's reaction. "Am surprised the way he (Kunhiraman) speaks now. Before we started the preparation for the event, we met him and he gave us his blessings. It is unfortunate that now he speaks like this," said Komu.