Christopher Cozier: Blue Curry
Unsettled Landscapes, exhibition catalog, Lucy Flint ed., SITE Santa Fe Publications.
Shifting between London and Nassau, Blue Curry extends the conversation around visual culture in both locales. How does one read a small blue portable electric cement mixer, humming away as it stirs gallons of coconut-scented sunblock, in Liverpool, an industrial location historically implicit in the slave trade and the birth of transnational modern economic engines?
The ordinary and the familiar are observed in Blue Curry’s work, but are not always recognised in their new roles. He restaged moments of exchange derived from a long history of people from places like the Caribbean, moving between narratives and making visual mischief to bring understanding to misunderstood shared histories. Consequently, one should always be a bit cautious when encountering the work of Blue Curry, which confounds and confronts with a precise and strategic composure. While often there are no titles, the descriptions of works, whether a list of items conscripted into his conceptual arsenal or the account of an action, provide sly commentary.
I almost said the word “ready-made.” But the artist’s live streaming of cruise liners’ arrivals and departures transforms this commonplace event to generate a critical awareness. In part, the work registers the Internet’s significant role in Caribbean visual dialogues. The standard beach towel dispensed at a tourist resort or a docked cruise ship are both fair game. They are enlisted in a conversation about the history of declaring and seizing territory. The towels are now deployed in flag-hoist signaling at SITE to announce new arrivals or invasions of cruise liners in Nassau. Since Santa Fe is inland, maybe it’s also SUVs. Both locations have shifting histories of occupation, invasion and, now, tourism.
Christopher Cozier is an artist, writer and curator based in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago who aims to explore and affect conventional readings of the Caribbean, revealing alternative narratives and interpretations. He is the 2013 Prince Claus Award Laureate and has been exhibited widely. He is also the co-director of Alice Yard, a space for creative experimentation, collaboration and improvisation in Port of Spain.