Christopher Cozier: "My sketchpads have become my studio"

March 2009 -

Christopher Cozier (1959) is a visual artist of Trinidad, the Caribbean island just outside of Venezuela. His many stays in other countries have changed the way he sees his home. Early in the 1990s he went to the Netherlands Antilles. In 2001 he participated in the Arte di nos eta exposition in Rotterdam.


The Castaway by Christopher Cozier,a detail from the ‘Tropical Night’ series

Cozier's work is characterised by his strong engagement with the post-colonial Caribbean. "Trinidad has always been a society of migrants.Numerous Amer-indian tribes were here before Columbus. Although the world has a pre-modern image of our region, modernism was born here: international relations, trade, et cetera. The cities were designed as tropical spaces and the inhabitants were not always included in the script: initially they were slaves, later colonial subjects and now citizens."

His Cross Currents (2001) display portrays two of these characters. In a triangle on the floor, numerous flags wave from blocks of wood with prints of the runaway slave and the briefcase man. The slaves are running in every direction; the men unanimously head in the same direction. Drawing has a special meaning for this versatile artist. "For me, drawing is a kind of speculation, potential. My sketchpads have become my studio because I travel so much. When a curator suggested making an exposition with them, it was extremely confusing. My private thoughts took on a public life."

In addition to his visual art, Cozier is  one of the editorial collective of the critical Caribbean journal Small Axe, which strives to give culture-political hope a new face. Cozier is also affiliated with the University of Trinidad and Tobago. His task there is to write a text titled Looking back. The key question is: "What is the value of my perception?" It will be an analysis of the works of his elder island co-inhabitants, with a contemporary global view but also with an eye on the past.

The Prince Claus Fund invited Christopher Cozier to the Netherlands, where he presented his work in the setting of Café Curiosité, organised by the SICA.