Uncomfortable: The Art of Christopher Cozier
Uncomfortable is a journey thorough the work and ideas of Trinidad-based artist and cultural critic Christopher Cozier, one of the leading contemporary artists in the Caribbean. The tape presents Cozier’s witty and incisive drawings, installations and video works in the context of post-independence Trinidad with its oil-rich economy, complicated ethnic politics, and vibrant cultural forms. Treated in this video are the failure of McDonald’s to take root in Trinidad (while other fast food chains flourish); the systemic difficulties of a Third World artist to circulate internationally; an art market that validates only pretty pictures of flowers and beaches, while the country is obsessed with kidnappings and murders.
“Christopher Cozier is an important, versatile and internationally renowned artist, but he’s barely known in his native Trinidad, where pretty pictures of birds and beaches are considered gallery-worthy. That’s one of the ironies in Richard Fung’s concise and insightful documentary about the artist. Born in 1962, a few years before Trinidad and Tobago’s independence, Cozier grew up knowing there was a world beyond the island. Eventually, he studied in the U.S. before moving back home. That dual perspective, combined with his complex ethnic background, informs the world of his paintings, drawings, installations and videos. His works illuminate everything from architectural patterns on neighborhood fences to signs of encroaching globalization. (Ironically, McDonald’s couldn’t make it in Trinidad – a fact that makes Cozier smile.) One of the most surprising sections of the film recounts an installation Cozier prepared for exhibit in Copenhagen that had to be completely reworked when it traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, because of societal differences. Fung stays in the background, letting Cozier’s work speak for itself. A glimpse of Cozier’s family life subtly conveys the complicated negotiations of two working artists/parents. This is a terrific introduction to Cozier’s art, some of which appeared at Toronto’s A Space several years ago. Too bad the pieces, as seen in the video, often lack titles or dates. These would have added a bit more perspective and contact to the work of an artist who is all-too-sensitive about such things.” (Glenn Sumi, Now Magazine)