URU ART HARBOUR
Kochi, Kerala – 2016
URU Art Harbour is a cultural, artistic and intellectual centre of critique founded by Riyas Komu and Zoya Riyas in 2016. ‘Uru’ refers to an ancient trading vessel. Just as the Uru plied the seas, facilitating trade and contact with other ways of life, URU Art Harbour is conceived as a site for arrival and departure of the commons. The name is also resonant with the history of the region which contributed to making Kerala and in particular Kochi, a site for multiculturalism and the influx of new ideas. The various aspects of URU such as publications, exhibitions, residencies, screenings and workshops affirm this idea—of cultural specificity coupled with a resistance to the narrow ways in which culture is interpreted.
URU is a culmination of several experiences such as Komu’s participation in residencies across the world, the process of ideating and organising the Kochi Muziris Biennale as well as his learnings from conceptualising the ‘Young Subcontinent’ project for the Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa. This resulted in the establishment of URU Art Harbour as a space for collaboration, uncensored artistic expression, critical inquiry, and creative disruption. Located in one of the oldest warehouses in the country that is owned by legendary trader, Thangal Kunju Musliar’s family, the space reflects core ideas of URU such as foregrounding local histories that intertwine with the world characterized by migrations and settlements.
The Residency at URU manifests these ideas by facilitating deep engagement between artists and the variegated communities and histories of Kochi. The uniqueness of this residency is also its receptivity to different creative practices. Since the last three years, Kochi’s young music band, Olam is in residency here. Through partnership and collaboration with local, national and international bodies, URU fosters critical conversations across disciplines and nurtures artists through a making-centric approach.