Is it possible to love a bird that feeds on the carcasses of decaying animals? Is it possible to grow increasingly fond of he of the sharp beak and dark disposition, not to mention the disarming [fill in the blank]? A few months ago, we might have blanched at these questions but, as it turns out, we at the trinidad+tobago film festival/09 have recently spent some time with a creature that encapsulates all of the aforementioned and not-so-endearing qualities—the Cobo, our local bird of prey. Having said that, you might be led to believe that we’ve been keeping company with a vulture as it simultaneously tears into a rotting fish and flaps its wings in an attempt to get us away from its dinner, but please, allow us to explain.
Every year the film festival selects an artist who creates a piece of work to serve as the primary image of the festival. In 2008, our artist was Peter Doig, whose limited edition silkscreen print, Lapeyrouse Wall, disappeared in what seemed like five minutes. It became the first picture in a new and unique collection of “Festival Art” sponsored by the National Museum and Art Gallery. Earlier this year we asked Eddie Bowen to be our Festival Artist and he enthusiastically accepted. Never one to avoid affronting the narrow-minded, Bowen pushed aside picturesque ideals of the islands, and chose to focus instead on our most notorious winged creature, a.k.a., the Cobo (or Corbeau, if you wish to be proper about it).
We’ve now heard the indignant question more than a couple of times: A Cobo? A Cobo is your festival image? Yet, through the criticisms of well-meaning folks, we’ve flown with pride next to our Cobo, claiming that although, yes, he is one nervous and devious bird with a penchant for munching foul things, he is gritty and real and a true representation of Trinidadian (and Caribbean) culture from the inside looking out, rather than the outside looking in. He is a whole cast of characters—the priest, the trickster, the garbage man, the Midnight Robber. He is the shadow, he exists in the wake of our consumption, picking, cleaning, and transforming our landscape. Represented through Bowen’s eye and skillfully rendered in graphite and pen, the Cobo becomes a complex and, dare we say it, surprisingly beautiful bird.
But you’ll be the judge. Please join us at 6pm on Tuesday August 18 as we unveil Bowen’s Cobo at The National Museum and Art Gallery on Keate Street, Port of Spain. Signed and numbered limited edition silkscreen prints of the Cobo, produced by Axelle Fine Arts in New York City, will be on sale at the event for TT $2,500, or you can contact the festival office at (+)868.621.0709. There are only 100 prints in this edition; don’t miss out on the chance to casually mention to friends that you keep your very own Cobo at home, right above the dining table.