Let’s talk about Tony Cokes. Music, text, politics
The programme Let’s talk about generates discussions on the Museum’s exhibitions between the different agents and artists in the city and our regular public. It is a meeting point that regards exhibitions as powerful devices capable of activating the imagination and generators of discourses that often go beyond the preconceived readings of the institution or the curatorial team.
Thursdays at 6:30 pm
Let’s talk about A ship’s hold of images, with Olivier Marboeuf, independent curator.
Tony Cokes’ body of work offers an opportunity to talk about the de-speaking cinema – an ensemble of strategies that aim to produce a minority ecology, places to breathe, at the heart of a toxic audiovisual space. And a way of using language outside of any dialectics. To dismantle the violence of language through language itself, in a poetics of scrambling.
Cokes’ videos allow us to glimpse behind and underneath the hyper-visibility of certain bodies, new forms of extractivism and exhaustion, but they also reveal how much the most dazzling and ecstatic performances hide powerful forces of invisibilisation and execution. His works summon forms of attention for what is hidden in the ship’s hold of images and texts, attention for their invisible economy. This practice of attention – link to heritage(s) of the feminist critique of storytelling – takes on a particular form with Cokes, through the act of repetition, of remix, which in no way signifies an eternal return, but rather a detour by way of and toward that which is not immediately seen, understood, felt – the ghost of the text.
Conversation in French, with an available translation. To access simultaneous translation you must have the Zoom programme installed on your device.
Let’s talk about The words are not yours. Neither house, nor soul, nor Aretha Franklin, with Sally Fenaux Barleycorn, scriptwriter and film director.
Just as Tony Cokes appropriates the rhythm of the lyrics and words to talk about house music, soul, Aretha Franklin and other topics featured in the exhibition, Sally Fenaux offers us a commentary on the work with the intention of transmitting not only intellectual information, but also sensations for the body, the ear and the nervous system. That is, an approach that, as well as incorporating the spoken narrative, mimics some of Cokes' methodologies, such as juxtaposing one language with another, mixing Cokes’ texts with those of Fenaux, or using different rhythmic cadences in the language.
Let’s talk about Intertexts of Afro-descendant identity, with Diego Falconí Trávez, lawyer and doctor in Literary Theory and Comparative Literature.
Tony Cokes’ works make extensive use of the concept of the intertext, and especially in works such as Mikrohaus: or the Black Atlantic and Black Celebration it is possible to reflect on its function. Understanding the intertext as proposed by the feminist thinker Julia Kristeva – i.e., as the absorption of one text in another – allows us to think about the complex fabric woven by the author in these works. In this case, the intertext addresses the question of how, through the conjunction of writing, image and music, different textualities can be assembled: theoretical works, newsreel images, books, recorded interviews, etc., in a deeply political and poetic project about Afro-descendant subjectivities.
This intertextual use, which creates a pastiche of the different images that constitute the text itself, helps to deconstruct writing and literary culture – associated with prestige, power and civilisation – by introducing oral, popular, street and apocryphal elements in order to articulate a form of narration that complicates and enriches contemporary Afro-descendant identity.
Let’s talk about The decisions we make with Tony Cokes. Music, text, politics, with María Elena Ortiz, curator and writer.
An approach to Cokes' work based on themes of a universal nature such as social, ethical and moral well-being. This conversation includes the singularities of Cokes' work, as well as his use of documentary archives, popular music and video, in relation to racial realities and media consumption. Cokes' works present images or texts that allude to the injustice of the black experience in the United States, taking into account how these inequities are linked to problems that encompass other communities at the political and economic levels. The decisions we make will also provide a comparative analysis of the works of Caribbean and Latin American artists who, like Cokes, feel the urgency of addressing concrete political and popular issues to create an analysis of the real human experience.
Let’s talk about Sound and affection with Tony Cokes. Music, text, politics, with Andrea Soto Calderón, philosopher expert in aesthetics and image theory.
Dialogue around Cokes' explorations of media production in order to analyse how dominant cultural forms – such as music videos, for example – can be perverted and take on a critical role.
Cokes approaches the hierarchies and forms of visibility and invisibility that represent us or take us into account from a logic of feeling through a complex plot of elements that range from the use of colour to the intensity of sounds, literature, film, advertising and the arts, since politically and culturally resonant ways of life are woven from their forms and rhythms. His dissident practice is not built on a reading context, but based on poetics of relationships: Encounters, interferences and collisions through which he articulates other potential stories.
We will approach the operations with which he carries out his search to configure another topology of criticism and artistic creation from remains, latencies, spectra, sieges; from the leftovers of what we think we understood and believed exhausted. A praxis that he implements from the materiality of sounds, delaying the image, prolonging fragments to resoundingly and visually compose other imaginaries that displace those we have incorporated; another way to tell stories, understand images and experience sound.
Black Atlantis, a performance reading by Ayesha Hameed, artist.
Black Atlantis (2016). Duration: 60 minutes
Black Atlantis is a live audio-visual essay that looks at possible afterlives of the Black Atlantic: In contemporary illegalized migration at sea, in oceanic environments, through Afrofuturistic dance and sound systems, and in outer space. Black Atlantis combines two conversations – afrofuturism and the anthropocene. Its point of departure is Drexciya, the late 20th-century electronic music duo from Detroit, and their creation of a sonic, fictional world. Through liner notes and track titles, Drexciya takes the Black Atlantic below the water with their imaginary of an Atlantis comprised of former slaves who have adapted to living underwater.
Ayesha Hameed draws on her practice as a writer and artist to try to tell stories of the transatlantic slave trade and the Mediterranean migration that are impossible to narrate from the outside. So she turns to the landscapes and seascapes they cross as witnesses. She tries to find moments of subjectivity in vast terrains of land and sea to make sense of migration as a kind of embodied geo-trauma, and through this tells stories of the people who make the crossing. This makes us into the deep history of geology and the speculative futures of afrofuturism. Her work then explores how time travel can be used to make sense of the scale of violence of the middle passage and the Mediterranean as sites of crossing. Through broken narratives, imperfect images, and temporal ruptures, her performance, video and sound works suggest what storytelling might look like when the breaks are more important than what is said.
Ayesha Hameed’s projects Black Atlantis and A Rough History (of the Destruction of Fingerprints) have been performed and exhibited internationally. She is the co-editor of Futures and Fictions, nominated for a 2018 International Center of Photography Infinity Award. She is currently the Joint Programme Leader for the PhD programme in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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