Christopher Cozier‘s work focuses mostly on Caribbean narratives or small quotidien gestures that can also present political and social questionings. His installation at the 2009 San Juan Poly/Graphic Triennial Available at All Leading Stores is not your typical Caribbean inspired work. Instead, it displays a sentiment that carries the weight of politics and globalization. The installation is comprised of assembled cardboard boxes labeled with the word ‘fear’ and placed on a pallet seemingly ready for immediate transportation.
Cozier has also been working on an ongoing project titled Tropical Night, which has been shown at Dartmouth College, The Brooklyn Museum and the Tate Modern. For each showing, an installation of drawings is arranged by the artist that according the ones chosen change the mood and overall tone of the work. The series of small drawings together weave a narrative that can range from daily sequences to ‘tropical suburbia’ of the 1960′s.
Tropical Night installation at the Tate Modern, courtesy Tate Modern
His practice has been called ‘uncomfortable’ by filmmaker Richard Fung and it seems very fitting. In it, Fung presents Cozier’s work within the context of post independence Trinidad & Tobago against “an art market that validates only pretty pictures of flowers and beaches.” I suppose his art can be uncomfortable to some because it doesn’t paint a comforting picture of postcolonialism. This makes me think of the Caribbean as a region and why the art market seems to prefer escapism in contemporary art. Perhaps because of fear? I guess Trinidad isn’t that different from other islands such as Puerto Rico, where flowers and pretty landscapes seem to predominate. What seems clear is that in a region that is so geographically isolated such as the Caribbean, Cozier stands as one of the few contemporary artists who have reached and maintained international success. And thankfully he didn’t get there by painting flowers and sandy beaches.
Christopher Cozier is an artist and writer living and working in Trinidad. He has participated in a number of exhibitions focused upon contemporary art in the Caribbean and internationally. Since 1989 he has published a range of essays on related issues in a number of catalogues and journals. He is on the editorial collective of Small Axe, A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, published and distributed by Duke University Press. He is the editor of sxspace a blog platform about the visual on the small axe website. The artist has been an editorial adviser to BOMB magazine for their Americas issues (Winter, 2003, 2004 & 2005). A documentary produced by Canadian video artist and writer, Richard Fung entitled Uncomfortable: the Art of Christopher Cozier was launched in Toronto in January 2006. The artist is a Senior Research Fellow at the Academy of The University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) and wasArtist-in-Residence at Dartmouth College during the Fall of 2007 . He is the co-curator of the exhibition Paramaribo Span to open in 2010 and its ongoing blog and one of the administrators of Alice Yard.
Bio and images provided by artist