#MeToo India: Kochi Biennale Foundation drops inquiry into sexual misconduct allegations against Riyas Komu

  • Since no complaint regarding sexual harassment had come forth against Komu, the ICC recommended dropping the investigation

  • The statement issued by the board of trustees also said that the foundation looks forward to Komu resuming his roles at the Kochi Biennale Foundation

  • In October 2018, an anonymous accusation had been shared on the Instagram account @herdsceneand detailing the survivor's encounter with Komu

Four months after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against artist and co-founder of the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), Riyas Komu, the board of trustees have decided to drop all inquiry into the matter in the absence of a forthcoming complaint.

In October 2018, an anonymous accusation had been shared on the Instagram account @herdsceneand detailing the survivor's encounter with the artist. Following the #MeToo allegations, on 19 October 2018, Komu had stepped down from all managerial positions at the foundation that organises the Kochi-Muziris Biennale until such a time as the investigation by the Internal Complaints Committee was pending.

 #MeToo India: Kochi Biennale Foundation drops inquiry into sexual misconduct allegations against Riyas Komu

Artist Riyas Komu. Image via Facebook

However, the KBF issued a statement on the last day of the fourth edition of the Biennale stating that the ICC, led by Lizzie Jacob, trustee and former Chief Secretary of Kerala, recommended dropping the investigation since no complaint of sexual harassment had come forth against the artist even as the matter had been pursued for several weeks. The statement read: Since no complaint was forthcoming after pursuing the matter for several weeks, the ICC recommended the dropping of the inquiry suggested by the Foundation. This recommendation has been examined and has been accepted by the board of trustees at its meeting today.

The statement issued by the board of trustees on 28 March, 2019 also said that the foundation looks forward to Komu 'resuming his roles at the Kochi Biennale Foundation.'

Earlier in March, Komu wrote in an email to the foundation that he had been deeply distressed with the way the foundation had chosen to handle the matter while he became the "target of a deliberate and calibrated attempt to wreck my career as an artist of global renown," an Indian Express report noted.

The anonymous allegations on Instagram had suggested that Komu had made forcible and unwelcome advances on two occasions to which Komu had responded, also on Instagram, with an apology for having caused hurt with his behaviour.

"In response to an allegation raised against me on an Instagram on 16 October 2018, I would like to state the following: I’m deeply upset that this incident has been understood and presented in this manner," he had written. "However, as the person has expressed hurt, I would like here to offer my apologies and I am opening myself to the possibility of a conversation."

Updated Date: Mar 29, 2019 10:10:47 IST



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