Notes from The Arrest, Dark Circles, and dig & fly 2013–19
For what reason did you go and look in the Hall of the Machines, Freder?
—Joh, in Metropolis
Again and again—these creatures—appear and disappear—just so and as fast—they slither under something, into a crevice. Into the shadows—or out of the frame.
And, we doubt ourselves. Did I just see one?
Not a chance to intercept.
So why, people like you, always looking down—watching your step—shaking your shoe before putting them on—always trying to see what’s in the shadows or behind the glare? As if . . .
Feels like a dead planet made from a blob of ink and rubbed-in carbon.
A dystopic gear-like form; part of some kind of slow-motion engine.
A corporate “social engine” older than we can imagine.
Like that saw we made from bottle caps and crown-corks, that sawlike blade.
The promise of polished floors. Home-like institutions—institutions like home . . . instant tuition tells me what?
An other-world, as seen in shiny terrazzo patterns, which feel like maps or views of Earth from the various Apollos. These patterns on the floor describe a turbulent space. A mental or social condition. The boom and bust of the oil, blood, and cash flow: current economies. A micro-macro Zabriskie Point explosion scene.
So it’s really about the ongoing turbulence of fossil-fuel futures—this Big Bang and unfolding of flying fragments? So is the thing that makes all of this possible, the whole exchange, also that which makes it vulnerable and unstable?
Think also of the “starship” of middle-class consumer aspirations.
A version of the Starship Enterprise.
Our “Enterprise,” it turns out, was not so much a right, but a privilege, sought, bought, or arrived at . . . and now no more than an enclosed and less-porous zone. So, these little refitted vans and pickups become hearses.
Delivering bodies of the recently departed. They no longer carry consumer goods from the port.
This is a new special delivery, an all-too-familiar exchange in the ancient engine.
Did I really just see it—another one—yet again?
Am I jaded or just slow?
But most people done know—done find this out already, long time?
First image: hand out and pump, detail from “The Arrest,” 2013, light box transparency installation, size variable (collection of the Betsy Hotel Miami)
First spread: dig & fly, detail from working drawings for the Sharjah Biennial 14 (2019), 2018, ink on paper, diptych 41″ x 55″
Second spread: Terrazzo Drama (left), Terrazzo Drama, Special Delivery 24/7 (left center), it dead or it still moving? (right center), and Dem things does bite (right), details from “Dark Circles,” 2015, lightbox transparency edition, size variable (collection of the Betsy Hotel Miami)
Third Spread: Dem things does bite too?, from the Entanglement series, 2014–15, ink on paper, 30″ x 44″
Final image: Transporter—swing low sweet chariot, detail from “Dark Circles,” 2015, lightbox transparency edition, size variable (collection of the Betsy Hotel Miami)
Christopher Cozier is a Trinidadian visual artist whose mediums range from notebook drawings to video installations. His exhibitions include “Infinite Island” at The Brooklyn Museum (2007), “Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic” at Tate Liverpool (2010), “Entanglements” at the Broad Museum, Michigan (2015), “Relational Undercurrents” at MOLAA, LA (2017), and “The Sea is History,” at the Historisk museum, Oslo (2019). Cozier participated in the public program of the tenth Berlin Biennial and has exhibited in the fifth and seventh Havana Biennials and the fourteenth Sharjah Biennial (UAE). Later this year he will participate in the Liverpool Biennial and in “one month after being known in that island” at the Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger. Codirector of Alice Yard and a Prince Claus Award laureate, he lives and works in Trinidad. (updated 10/2022)