Schwarzescafé at Luma Westbau presents Before and After the Studio: Volume II the first Swiss solo exhibition of US-based artist Tony Cokes. Cokes, whose work arranges appropriated materials like pop music and news texts in a confrontational collage, explores the relationship between the artist, the artist’s studio, and gentrification. The exhibition at schwarzescafé confronts the interior by the artist Heimo Zobernig and is curated by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen.
Tony Cokes creates video works in a distinct style, piecing together found footage or solid-color slides, animated quoted text, and pop music. Displayed on LED panels, Coke’s recent commissions from his exhibition at the Shed form a diptych titled ‘Before and After the Studio’ (2019), which investigates the role of the artist’s studio—its architecture, its shaping of artwork, and its forming of mythologies.
The new work appropriates fragmentary, anonymized descriptions of an artist’s sculptural works on themes of American violence, media, and celebrity culture, made in the 1980s and 1990s; found texts commenting on the “rise of the studio,” specifically in relation to the reuse of industrial spaces; and texts that explore the development of the “creative class” and its members’ desire for specific architectural spaces derived from the model of the artist’s studio or loft. For Cokes, this creative-class architectural impulse is a characteristic of the capitalist system we live in today. Music ranging from Drake’s hip hop to a survey of UK dub-step accompanies the video.
The installation includes a series of related works. ‘killer.mike.karaoke’ (2017) combines two songs by the hip hop artist and activist Killer Mike while their lyrics are displayed on the screen. An outspoken social justice advocate, Killer Mike is known for connecting community to activism through his music. Projected are studio, time, isolation: ‘reconstructions of soul and the sublime’ (2011) and ‘shrinking.criticism’ (2009). The former combines recordings of reggae singer Cornell Campbell with sections of text from art historian Tom Holert’s essay “Studio Time,” while the latter sets a text derived from British writer Julian Stallabrass’s essay “The Decline and Fall of Art Criticism,” which discusses the conflation of business, art, and advertising within global art of the last four decades, to the dubstep sounds of Kromestar.
Tony Cokes lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island, where he serves as Professor in the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University.
Recent exhibitions include Goldsmiths CCA, London; The Shed, New York; Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen; the 10th Berlin Biennale, Berlin; Hessel Museum, Annandale-on-Hudson; Whitechapel Gallery, London; ZKM, Karlsruhe; REDCAT, Los Angeles; SFMOMA, San Francisco; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Pera Museum, Istanbul; and the Louvre, Paris. His work is included in the collections of The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; SFMoMA, San Francisco; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; FRAC Lorraine, Metz, France; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Kunsthallen, Copenhagen; Wexner Center for the Visual Arts, Columbus; and Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, among many others.