Kochi has been a safe haven for humanity since ancient times. It is said that the oldest Jewish community in India were in the erstwhile Kingdom of Kochi. They came to Kerala as traders in 562 BC and then as refugees in 70 CE when the Romans suppressed the Jewish Rebellion.
But that’s not the only community that has lived and thrived in Kochi, there are more than 38 others. And it is the story of these 39+ communities that photographer Biju Ibrahim has captured in his work that is displayed at Islamic Heritage Center Art Gallery, Fort Kochi. Separated by caste, faith, language, ethnicity and region, these communities have lived in harmony for centuries.
In August 2017, Uru Art Harbour – a centre for art and culture in Kochi – invited Biju Ibrahim to be a part of their artist-in-residence programme, and commissioned him to create photographic documentation of the multicultural nature of the region surrounding Mattanchery/Fort Kochi.
The exhibition, Transcendence/Kochi, is a startling reminder that in an increasingly xenophobic world, there’s this multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society living within a 5km radius.
Here is a video that talks of the story behind the photos displayed in the gallery.
So the next time you get overwhelmed by right-wing propaganda on social media and the internet, head to Islamic Heritage Center Art Gallery, Fort Kochi.