Christopher Cozier has an artist friend born in Africa, working in the Caribbean, and opening a show in New York. Such things are not uncommon. The artist could very well be born in Beijing, educated in Los Angeles, and showing in Zurich. Globalization is something Christopher Cozier explores and embraces. He himself is an artist living and working in Trinidad but gives international appearances, including in the United States. He was at Northwestern University this spring and gave a lecture on May 4th.
Christopher examined many forms of border crossing during his lecture. He notes that more than 50% of people who get more than 12 years of education will leave Trinidad and never come back. They leave for economy sake. They leave for opportunities and reasons much like earlier waves of immigrates. He examines trade with China and the influx of Chinese goods to all sectors of the world. He talks about drug and human trafficking.
He also talked about borderless-ness. Borderless-ness could be thought of the ultimate form of globalization. The Caribbean is a prime example because of its mixture of cultures and people. However, the struggle with globalization can be seen by the difficulty of travel between each Caribbean island, especially the ones governed under different European countries. Passports, visas; all are needed to travel even miniscule distances between a neighboring land. There are not even direct flights to Haiti from the United States. As borders disappear, they are becoming more and more apparent as some form and structure of old human life tries to remain as it may prove to be impossible for humans to be label-less.
Christopher Cozier mentions an early form of border crossing when he discusses the image of the slave, more specifically, the image of the black American slave. Slavery in historical sense has been traversing many boundaries and seas. A Slave is crossing borders entering a country and needs to cross them to seek freedom. The Canadian-American border was a symbol of freedom during and before the American civil war. Slavery has not gone away, but the majority of human trafficking has taken a different form; it is the form of the salary man Christopher Cozier has juxtaposed next to the image of the slave. Sugar,cotton, tobacco; that is old trade. Technology and information is the new the trade. Globalization is not a scary evil, but it is different in that it places every worker all at the mercy of the new economy. Outsourcing jobs and outsourcing people is a common place phenomenon resulting in many migrations of people across the country and across the world.
Christopher’s artworks explore his ideas.
As mention before, he is drawn to the image of a black slave with a canvas sack and the salary man with a briefcase. He did an ark work with the image of the worker printed on many small of sheets of paper, arrange in the form of Trinidad, and positioned in the direction the workers are migrating.
He is also very attracted to drawing. As an artist, drawing is a way for him to lay down ideas, but as a medium, drawing become much more as they take on the flighty persona of his migrating subjects. As a medium, drawing is fast and mobile. His drawings can be rearranged in any order as they are shown and reshown in different locations around the world and are displayed very simply with hanging paper clips. This transient form can be added to as Christopher Cozier builds up his collection. On the topic of paper clips, Christopher is also drawn to working with office supplies such as rubber stamps and butterfly clips. He says he explores “the use of bureaucracy in a post-colonial space”. This is a very interesting idea since bureaucracy signifies heaviness. Weightiness. The opaque solidity of bureaucracy seems to imply the structure and the strength of an institution but is translated differently into artwork that is at its most transparent and mobile. In present times, bureaucracy is still tolerated as long as it is not too bloated or complaints about it slowing down life in its constant surge forward starts being heard. The longevity of borders as they remain today is in question as more fluid forms of segregation and identification takes over but brings into question of the reality of individualism and identity.