Peera is the word for a small bench in Trinidad. However you can use it for
many things beyond a bench. Spawned from dialogues with architect
Sean Leonard at Alice Yard, Christopher Cozier has appropriated this
image and has begun incorporating it into his symbolic vocabulary. At its
heart, it symbolizes a re-evaluation of what we think we know, a reexamination yielding the surprise of resultant new knowledge and point-of-view.
In his blog, Cozier writes ongoing thoughts about the symbolic bench, the
very act of this is part of the re-examination process:
“...little hand-printed and cut-out benches,(implying much hope? )
There is also the “pira” or the little bench that refers to small incremental
gestures that build up over time. This is what I feel that I am going after
with my little daily drawings.
It’s the kind of bench that people use to do simple humble daily things like
weeding a garden or vending at the side of the road or shining a shoe
and so on. It’s often portable and is often intriguingly worn or weathered
into shape by use over extended periods of time. I feel that these little
gestures are the foundation of a global economic reality that is not seen
for what it is. Often it is discussed as some kind of inefficient and errant
form. A messy problem to be corrected or reformed. This is why I brought it
together with the old Colonial map - for the moment.
Is Hope an idea or a concept that is easily materialized or inferred?
Maybe not - because it may be an active conjuring or imagining of
possibility? I was attracted to the bench design as it recalled a modest
however naïve and idealistic time in my life. A time in which I was not too
“exposed,” so to speak, and so I had to figure ways or functioning with
very little in hand. By the way, then, the “little in hand,” felt like the world
and the ability to transform these few things through imaginative reverie,
as, for example, in the games of childhood, was quite exhilarating.
It all keeps coming back to me when I see the way these little workbenches
are put together or designed. Designed is the better word as it
implies a solidity of intent.
I was concerned with (inspired by?) the make-shift which I knew and had
come to understand, even accept in a place like Trinidad . However its
familiarity was less than comforting or consoling than it was comfortable
Through my knowledge and or familiarity, a tension lingered in my
mind/sense between it being “all I know” or just “what I know.”
So I keep drawing and investigating this bench form.”
– Christopher Cozier, Visual Matters, christophercozier.blogspot.com/
The artist is a Senior Research Fellow at the Academy of The University of
Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) and was Artist-in-Residence at Dartmouth College
during the Fall of 2007. He was the co-curator of the exhibition
Paramaribo Span which opened in 2010, and its related blog and
publication. He was also the co-curator of "Wrestling with the Image",
which opened in 2011, and is one of the administrators of Alice Yard*.
*Alice Yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad, is a space for creative experiment, collaboration, and improvisation. It is administered and curated by architect Sean Leonard, artist Christopher Cozier, writer and editor Nicholas Laughlin, and musician Sheldon Holder, with the help of a growing network of creative collaborators.