I attended a series of lectures and discussions on Caribbean art with contemporary artist and curator Christopher Cozier. I wanted to do this workshop for a long time. It was scheduled to take place last year and I had signed up. I didn’t know what to expect though. Anyways, here we are…
So, Chris Cozier guides the group in a discussion about and inspires to think about Caribbean contemporary art and discuss what influences it, like for instance popular culture … and the relationship. What is Caribbean contemporary art? How would you define it? We talk about spaces and how we shape and use them. Spaces, landscapes, cityscapes, buildings, houses, spaces. He invites us to analyze images and artworks and really look at them. And keep questioning, what do you see? Why was this work created, in what period of time and by who and who gave the assignment? And what for?
I must say the first two days of the workshop I was a little unsure of what the line of the discussions was, but I got a better idea on the third day. I guess I had to process the information of the first two evenings first.
What I like about workshops is the many different ideas that are being presented and with which I can play in my mind. The many interpretations of an assignment and all the outcomes. Just so surprising what the participants make of it, are interested in, and how they see things.
Of course, I think about the spaces I move in, my own space and how I relate to it and how that changes in time. What kind of space interests me and why. I am interested in Waiting rooms and the complexity of emotions (anxiety) we have in waiting rooms. We may be waiting for some kind of ‘verdict’, permit or diagnosis. So little attention is paid to the interior and the Waiting experience. (it’s just awful) I guess it changes when your perception changes and maybe this is defined by where you are in life. The endless rearranging of spaces. Interiors, the functionality and uses.
We had two assignments: 1. “bring something that is of meaning to you or interest you. It could be anything, an object, a poem, a picture, something you’re working on, an artwork you are fascinated by or maybe a question you have in your mind.” I didn’t know what to pick and thought about it for a day or two. A co-participant suggested I should bring something from my house. I decided to show the Mannequins, a craft project.
I got these Mannequins years ago. Somebody had cleaned up the attic of the church. They were used for the Xmas plays; you know Joseph and Mary…3 kings.
I work on them, every now and then, looking for ideas… so they are in my house and garden…. The reflection I had about presenting the Mannequin project is that …maybe they represent people with personality disorders or other social disorders to me…people with a limited view. The titles refer to characters in the library; like ‘The reader, Nemesis, Megalomania, ‘The world in my head’, ‘Zo gek als een deur’ and so on.
A friend of mine once had the idea to make a documentary about the ‘dorpsgekken’ (Google translation: village idiots) who visit the library on a regular basis. To document their story and how they got to where they are now. Maybe we will work on this someday, it’s an interesting idea.
Remarks that other people made about my Mannequins: for example, one friend once said “You are filling your house with people!” I have no idea why she made that remark. And my sister once said “This Mannequin project is taking a long time, no?” (As if there is a timeframe to a study or a project. When am I supposed to finish it?)
A few months ago I was talking to a friend who has started working with Taxidermy as a means to work on his artistic expression. He wanted to publish something about his project and asked me to help him to write something about that. So I had to research Taxidermy a bit and found beautiful artworks and art documentaries and I liked this one with Kate Clark a lot and played with the idea to do that with one of the Mannequins. I have no experience with the material but I think her artworks are really cool. We (the workshop participants) were invited to share an artwork we are interested in and I picked the documentary on artist Kate Clark. I really liked the Kaleidoscope a guy shared, I forgot his name…wait Alex… soft face…
The second assignment was to “take a picture of a place which makes you anxious”. I took a picture of a stage. I have stage fright.
Black box evening
One evening in the series of eight sessions, Cozier presented and talked about his own artworks and career. Really strong statements and works, I think. The work on people crossing an ocean is so impressive and I still look at it in my mind. I liked his story on the curator who selected his drawings and sketches. Works he didn’t think should be exhibited and that he felt really uncomfortable about that at first. I think it shows that every person sees something else in your work. Maybe something you yourself are not so conscious about.
Cozier closed the workshop of 8 sessions with presentations from the group members plus an improvised performance. All were invited to present something. He said some things to suggest to continue to think about like, ‘permission’ and the fact that people struggle with that, permission to present an idea or artwork or thought which I thought was an important point because it is a barrier. Do you give yourself permission? Do I have the right or space? Who gives you permission? Is permission needed? So, I thought it was good he brought it up. Maybe we should give it some more thought.