Tony Cokes — Supplement
The textual fragments that appear throughout this issue as part of Tony Cokes’s project for X-TRA are excerpted from Nizan Shaked’s “Critical Identity Politics,” an essay that originally appeared in X-TRA vol. 11, no. 1.* Similar to Cokes’s video and sound-based works that animate recent theoretical writing as a readymade system of references, Supplement (2009) offers a reorientation of the original text’s chronological categorization of identity politics within art history.
Shaked’s essay proposes, in part, an analysis of race as a visual and textual category that has operated as an interrogation of artistic subjectivity in the trajectory of art making since the 1960s. Cokes recasts the descriptive terms deployed by Shaked into an evacuated space of un-specificity, in order to allow for the expansion and interchangeability of ideas. In so doing, Supplement aims to collapse the categorical realms of word and image that have been at the center of debates around identity formation. Hovering in this displaced territory, the same set of terms creates variable meanings without reference to any single artist, practice, or historical lineage.
Rather than attempting to denounce or flatten out the arguments put forth in the cited text, Supplement instead offers a re-presentation of Shaked’s descriptive fragments. This gesture lends specificity to the genre of artist’s projects commissioned for print publication and figures the products of intellectual culture as materials ripe for appropriation. Cokes’s larger practice has gestured toward modes of art-making that recycle references from popular and mass media; Supplement puts forth a similar approach to the use and reuse of materials culled from high and low, visual and textual cultural arenas.
A downloadable video file, titled studio, time, isolation: reconstructions of soul and the sublime (excerpt – pt. 3 of 3) accompanies this project, located at http://www.x-traonline.org/ArtistProjects/tony_cokes.html
Aram Moshayedi currently lives and works in Los Angeles where he is a curator at LAXART.
Tony Cokes is a post-conceptualist whose practice foregrounds social critique. Cokes’s works in video, installation, and sound re-contextualize appropriated texts, audio, and images to reflect upon and contest our production as subjects under capitalism. His recent projects often take the form of text animations with sound functioning as a constitutive, inter- textual element, complicating the visual. Cokes’s works have appeared in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; MACBA, Barcelona, Spain; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Centre Georges Pompidou and La Cinematheque Francaise, Paris, France. He was a 2008-09 Resident Scholar/ Artist-in-Residence at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. Cokes is a professor in the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, Providence.
* Supplement contains text by Nizan Shaked and Adrian Piper (Nizan Shaked, “Critical Identity Politics,” X-TRA vol. 11, no. 1 [Fall 2008], 4-15.)