Exhibition and public program

16 October 2020 13.00–31 January 2021 19.00

 

Tony Cokes: To Live as Equals [closed due to the prolonged Covid-19 lockdown]

An exhibition and public program with and around the work of Tony Cokes

  • Tony Cokes, Evil.27: Selma, 2011, installation view, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2020, photo: Tom Janssen

UPDATE 13 JANUARY 2021: The exhibition is prematurely closed, due to the prolonged Dutch Covid-19 lockdown.

Tony Cokes: To  Live as Equals
From 16 October 2020 until 31 January 2021 BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht presents Tony Cokes: To Live as Equals, an exhibition and public program with and around the work of multimedia artist Tony Cokes. The exhibition is curated by Thiago de Paula Souza.

In the time since its first opening on 28 February 2020 and its near-immediate closure due to the Covid-19 lockdown measures, global movements have coalesced around fighting fascisms, anti-Blackness, and intersecting forms of inequality, with wide-ranging protests and riots, new and reborn organizations, policy reforms, and ideas such as the reactivated notion in the US and elsewhere of defunding the police. In this context, the work of Tony Cokes asserts an even larger urgency and pressing relevance. With the reopening of Tony Cokes: To Live as Equals, we at BAK look for renewed conversations, plans, and exchanges in this critical historical moment.  

Tony Cokes: To Live as Equals brings together selected video works from the past 30 years, tracing Cokes’s unique formation of social critique through visual and textual codes, and his changing relationship to archival material over several different global historical moments.  The works draw a through line from these historical events to the present of systemic violence and ever-more-complex forms of social control. What are ways of seeing and responding to the seemingly endless cycles of inequality and oppression? How then, the exhibition queries, could one break those cycles and envision living as equals? 

The title of the exhibition refers to Cokes’s Evil.27: Selma (2011), which reconsiders the contemporary dominance of the image as evidence and record. Invoking a period of civil mobilization in the United States that came about in a time without mass image circulation, the video examines what is lost when “everything is instantly visible”. Another work from his mostly imageless Evil Series (2001-present) includes Evil.16 (Torture.Musik) (2009–2011), which examines popular music as a US Army psychological warfare device through the very songs used in torture. Other central works include FADE TO BLACK (1990), an assemblage of Black stereotypes from cinema history that contends with the subliminal elements of race relations, and Black Celebration (1988), which reappropriates Situationist texts alongside footage from the 1960s-era riots in Detroit and Los Angeles.

Tony Cokes: To Live as Equals immerses viewers in the audiovisual language that Cokes has developed over his career, which typically blurs the aesthetics of pop music videos and visual art. Characterized by appropriation and repetition, and the use of archival materials and text set to identifiable pop bangers, Cokes’s work breaks with the modern grammars of media circulation in order to subvert popular rhetorics of power and violence. This practice is grounded in the fraught relation between history and memory, and strongly questions western contemporary culture while maintaining a sharp awareness of the limits of theoretical critique. His works instead interrogate current conditions of capital, knowledge distortion, and the fascisms of everyday life by rehearsing new possibilities of understanding, and by combining political analysis with the pleasure of pop.

Reopening
The reopening spans two days, Friday 16 and Saturday 17 October 2020, between 13.00 and 21.00 hrs each day, to accommodate visitors safely and offer the public a chance to engage with Cokes’s works. At set times throughout the day, the BAK team gives introductions to Cokes’s work and the exhibition. The reopening also includes two evening programs: on Friday 16 October 2020, the launch of the publication Deserting from the Culture Wars (2020), edited by Maria Hlavajova and Sven Lütticken and published by BAK and MIT Press, and on Saturday 17 October 2020, the launch of a new book by artist Nicoline van Harskamp, My Name is Language (2020), published by Scriptings and Archive Books, also availabe as an e-book at EECLECTIC: www.eeclectic.de).

Program reopening
Friday 16 October 2020
13.00–19.00 hrs: Opportunity to visit the exhibition, starting with introductions by the BAK team (timeslots at 13.00 hrs (EN), 15.00 hrs (NL), and 17.00 hrs (EN))
19.00–21.00 hrs: Publication launch for Deserting from the Culture Wars (published by BAK and MIT Press) with guests (EN)

Saturday 17 October 2020
13.00–19.00 hrs:  Opportunity to visit the exhibition, starting with introductions by the BAK team (timeslots at 13.00 hrs (EN), 15.00 hrs (NL), and 17.00 hrs (EN))
19.00–21.00 hrs: Book launch for My Name Is Language (published by Scriptings and Archive Books), with Nicoline van Harskamp and guests (EN)


Visit the exhibition
To visit the exhibition, it is required to book a timeslot in advance. You can do so via the following link.

More public program
Public Studies: Practice as Theory
19–20 October 2020
A two-day workshop presented by Tony Cokes on violence, representation, images, and the uses of theory, examined through key works by the artist.

Propositions #13
Oct–Dec 2020
More information to be announced soon.

Covid-19 regulations (please read before visiting BAK)
To ensure the safety of our visitors and staff on location, BAK has prepared a number of Covid-19 guidelines, including hygiene, keeping 1.5 meters distance at all times, sticking to your allocated seating, following staff instructions, and more. You can find a general overview of the guidelines here.

If you book a ticket for an event at BAK, these guidelines (and possible specifics for the event in question) will also be sent to you via e-mail in advance. By joining our programs you agree to respect these guidelines, and we hope you join our effort in creating a safe environment for yourself and all those present!

BAK’s activities are made possible through financial contributions by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the City Council, Utrecht. Tony Cokes: To Live as Equals is organized in the framework of BAK’s research itinerary Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–ongoing), and has received extra funding from the VSBfonds, Utrecht; BankGiro Loterij Fonds, Amsterdam; The Netherland-America Foundation, New York; and Stichting Elise Mathilde Fonds, Maarsbergen.
My Name is Language by Nicoline van Harskamp is made possible with the support of the Mondriaan Fund.

BAK’s main partner in the field of education and research is HKU University of the Arts Utrecht.

Made possible by

Suggestions from the archive

Education Program

15 March–01 April 2021

Course: Art as Politics [rerun]

Due to popular demand, BAK Public Studies offers yet another rerun of the online course Art as Politics, taking place on the following dates: 15, 18, 22, 25, 29 March & 1 April 2021. This digital extension of BAK Public Studies, taught by Maria Hlavajova, is prompted by the urgency to continue collective thinking through, learning about, and imagining critical, politically-informed artistic practices that grasp—and intervene into—the present.
Deadline applications: 3 March. Deadline feewaivers: 23 February.

Assembly and Public Forum

Collaboration and Open call

03 December 2020–30 January 2021

Manifesting Systemic Change through Creative Waves

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Conversation

16 December 2020, 19.00-21.00

Practicing Tactical Solidarities II: A Roundtable on Mutual Aid, Emergency, and Continuous Care

This locally-focused second edition of Practicing Tactical Solidarities: A Roundtable on Mutual Aid, Emergency, and Continuous Care features artists, organizers, and activists working in Utrecht, many of whom are current BAK Fellows. While addressing changing needs and urgencies in the protracted pandemic reality and its overlapping and related crises, the conversation contends with tactics and lessons in creating mutual aid networks, lasting support systems, and emergency care.