The famed Kochi-Muziris Biennale has entered its final week, but along with the adulation which has come its way, the art exhibition has also been accused of not paying the very people who ensured that the exhibits and installations were put up. The Biennale began on December 12.
On Friday, an Instagram account called justicefrombiennale18_19 began posting accounts supposedly of labourers and workers who erected various installations, and have allegedly been waiting for their payments for over four months. “The Architectural and Structural details demanded a lot of precision. The fabricators and all the team were happy to push themselves and race against time. Every skilled soul who worked at the Pavillion is unpaid,” one post reads.
The 34 Instagram posts were all uploaded under 24 hours, and detail the works taken up at Aspinwall House and Cabral Yard, two of the Biennale’s main venues. These include Sue Williamson's installation at Aspinwall House and the Pavillion at Cabral Yard.
The account chronicles stories of workers who are allegedly yet to be paid for their work. The work on the Biennale was reportedly cobbled together very late, and had to be done in a rush before the exhibition opened.
The Kochi Biennale Foundation has also been served a legal notice by Appu Thomas from Thomas Clery Infrastructures and Developers Pvt Ltd on March 18. According to The Hindu, it threatens criminal and civil proceedings against the foundation for pending dues to the tune of Rs 77,59,277. Vendors who supplied materials to the Biennale have also sent a notice for unpaid dues of Rs 45,75,315, according to the Mumbai Mirror.
“Over the past few months, we have repeatedly tried to find a solution that is fair for both parties and have been consistently thwarted by the lack of response from the officials at KBF,” Appu Thomas told the Mumbai Mirror.
The problems allegedly began a week after the Biennale started, when an invoice was reportedly raised. However, once it was submitted, The Hindu reported that an official of the Biennale said that there was no proper work order, and the services of a valuer was used. The valuer’s estimates were reportedly lower than the bills raised
In response to this, Appu Thomas told The Hindu that the Biennale did not get a cost evaluation, but only a quantity evaluation.