Prince Claus Award for Christopher Cozier, artist, writer, curator and art critic from Trinidad and Tobago

From within the Surinamese art circles we proudly share with you the news that our dear art friend Christopher Cozier, well known artist, writer, curator and art critic from Trinidad & Tobago, is a recipient of the 2013 Prince Claus Award.  He is one of the 11 international winners of the prestigious Prince Claus Award, which  is presented by the Netherlands-based Prince Claus Fund annually. With these awards, the fund honors individuals and organizations reflecting a progressive and contemporary approach to the themes of culture and development. The most important consideration of the jury is the positive effect of a laureate’s work on a wider cultural or social field.

Christopher Cozier | PHOTO Akiko Oto
Christopher Cozier | PHOTO Akiko Oto

In Suriname we know Christopher Cozier especially for his work as co curator during the grand Paramaribo SPAN exhibition at the DSB Bank in 2010. Cozier’s role as co curator for the Caribbean, was also key to Suriname’s participation in the  About Change art project of the IDB which included the exhibition Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions in Washington DC, USA (2011). In addition to his role in these events, and especially with regards to the regional art scene, Christopher Cozier is also a valued supporter and advisor to various Surinamese artists and Suriname’s most active art gallery, Readytex Art Gallery, as well.

The official press release of the Fund describes Cozier (born in 1959, in Port-of-Spain) as “a multi-talented cultural activator with a profound impact on cultural development across the Caribbean. His informed and incisive artwork in diverse media reflects his deep understanding of Trinidad’s past and present, and beyond this, he mentors and supports local and regional artists, providing critiques, establishing dialogues with them across virtual space and initiating opportunities.”

Portrait of Christopher Cozier, during 'Kibii Wi Koni Marcel Pinas The Event', 2011 | PHOTO Sirano Zalman, 2011
Portrait of Christopher Cozier, during ‘Kibii Wi Koni Marcel Pinas The Event’, 2011 | PHOTO Sirano Zalman, 2011

According to the press release, as a writer and editor, and contributor to among other things the art magazine Small Axe, Cozier plays a crucial role in the evolution of contemporary art discourse in the Caribbean. His commitment to research and critical enquiry expanded the dialogue between traditional academic disciplines and the visual, and helped to liberate local discourse from predictable tropes and stereotypes.  For more than 25 years, Christopher Cozier has been running artists’ workshops, exchanges and residencies linking local artists with international practitioners. Among many activities he was instrumental in establishing an exhibition context for new media. In 2006 he co-founded Alice Yard, a contemporary art and performance platform for creative experiment, exchange and debate which is located in the backyard of a home in Port of Spain.

The awards press release concludes: “Christopher Cozier is honored for his influential role and open inclusive approach in developing art and culture across the Caribbean; for selflessly and generously creating possibilities for others, inspiring and mentoring younger generations; for his disciplined commitment to intellectual inquiry and critical discourse.”

And indeed, even here in Suriname we have also been witness to and beneficiary of, the dedication and effort that Christopher Cozier invests in the promotion of art from the Caribbean. We therefore proudly congratulate him with this well deserved award!

TEXT Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld

More information about his work as an artist can be found on Christopher Cozier’s blog. One of his most recent projects is In Development, in which a recurrent motif is the breeze brick pattern. This project has its own blog

An interesting interview by Annie Paul can be read here. in BOMB 82, Winter 2003.

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