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Cannonball Artist-in-Residence Christopher Cozier on Empathy and Caribbean Art

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Last week, Cannonball Artist-in-Residence Christopher Cozier led a public talk titled “Actions Between Territories.”

Cozier, an artist, writer, and curator living and working in Trinidad, is part of the Residency Program of Cannonball — a nonprofit arts organization in Miami that, "offers dedicated time, space, resources, and technical/administrative support to conduct research, produce new work, and engage the community about issues at stake in this region.”

On the third floor of a 1920s warehouse on the northern edge of downtown Miami, Cozier shared some of his work and spoke of the spaces that Caribbean artists are constantly imagining and navigating, and the challenges that come with living in a place that is largely fictitious, a place where palm trees were literally imported.

He also discussed how he became interested in the boundaries between people and moving beyond the idea of the Caribbean as a myth and paradise. In the past his work has included paintings and sketches of crutches; building fences and making visitors apply for keys via an application; and floor installations with products like Wonder bread and rubber stamps. Throughout it all, there is a sense of disruption, of messing with the idea of place, of separation, of belonging and not belonging. 

“I’ve visited Miami before, but usually the trips are very short,” Cozier told New Times. “When I’ve come in the past to Art Basel for instance, I go from one art event to the next. This time I made the effort to stay longer. Even though I had been to Miami before, I thought this would be a good moment to come. I don’t know if me being here will extend my project or create a whole new one.”

Currently, he has exhibitions in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, and a show in Costa Rica entitled "Entanglements," which is part of his current research project on oil economies. Locally, you can find his work at the Betsy Hotel.

“What I look for a lot of time [in my work] is empathy,” Cozier said. “I’m just using a different vocabulary. One of the weirdest things about artists like myself is that people don’t see my work as Caribbean in the Caribbean.”

For more information about Cannonball and their calendar of events visit cannonballmiami.org.

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