On the occasion of the exhibition Más Allá, el Mar Canta (Beyond, the Sea Sings), at Times Art Center Berlin, the conversation with the artists Nicole Awai, Christopher Cozier and Haishu Chen focuses on the Caribbean as an archipelago of multiple colonial trajectories, languages and artistic practices.
Más Allá, el Mar Canta aims to explore narratives of migration from China to Central America and the Caribbean as a starting point to consider systems of kinship and ontologies of intimacy. The artists’ work in the exhibition speaks from the conundrum of diasporic subjectivities, powered by either personal explorations or by collective motifs whose common ground is the always poignant reminder that there is no political imagination without community. The artworks in the exhibition are a unique testimony of an alchemic procedure that invokes agency from within the ruins of coloniality.
Nicole Awai (b. 1966, Port of Spain) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, and Austin, Texas. Awai grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and immigrated to the US as an adult. Her work is an examination and response to the interconnectivity and fluidity of social interactions and materiality, which investigates the colonial and modern history of the Americas. Awai makes nebulous 3-D resin paintings, mixed media sculptures, installations, and drawings that are conceptual abstractions, often comprising of an amalgam of representational elements. Her work has been exhibited at different museums and galleries, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Brooklyn Museum; the Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach; Queens Museum; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary, Kansas City; the Portland Museum of Art; the Delaware Art Museum.
Christopher Cozier (b. 1959, Port of Spain) is an artist living and working in Trinidad and a codirector of the gallery Alice Yard. He was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2004 and is a Prince Claus Award laureate (2013). Through his notebook drawings to installations derived from recorded staged actions, Cozier investigates how Caribbean historical and current experiences can inform understandings of the wider contemporary world. His exhibitions include the 5th & 7th Havana Biennials; Infinite Island, The Brooklyn Museum, (2007); Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic, TATE Liverpool (2010); Entanglements, the Broad Museum, Michigan (2015); Relational Undercurrents, Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach (2017); and The Sea is History, Historiskmuseum, Oslo (2019). Cozier participated in the public program of 10th Berlin Biennial, 2018, exhibited in the 14th Sharjah Biennial in 2019, and the 11th Liverpool Biennial in 2021.
Haishu Chen (b. 1986 in Fuzhou, Fujian Province) is a visual artist working and living in Berlin, Germany. Using not only photography but also other media such as text, video, installation, performance, film and photo books, the artistic works of Chen focus on the critical analysis of conditions of existence, social perception and collective memory in our modern society.
Pablo José Ramírez is a curator, art writer and cultural theorist living and working in Guatemala and Amsterdam. He is the Adjunct Curator of First Nations and Indigenous Art at Tate Modern. His work revisits post-colonial societies to consider non-Western ontologies, indigeneity, forms of racial occlusion, and sound. He holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2015 he co-curated the 19th Bienal Paiz: Trans-visible with Cecilia Fajardo-Hill. Ramírez was the recipient of the 2019 Independent Curators International/CPPC Award for Central America and the Caribbean and is currently the Editor in Chief and co-founder of Infrasonica, a curatorial platform dedicated to the research around non-Western sonic cultures. Ramírez is part of the curatorial team of the Carnegie International 58th.