Tony Cokes’s The Will & The Way... Fragments 1 and 2
In this exclusive two-week screening, watch the artist examine the life of a groundbreaking architect.
Jan 12, 2022
Tony Cokes’s The Will & The Way... Fragments 1 and 2 screened here January 12–26, 2022. The video is no longer available for streaming. Join us for the next Hyundai Card Video Views screening, beginning February 16, 2022.
Since the late 1980s, Tony Cokes has produced a prolific body of videos that engage with critical theory, cultural studies, American politics, and popular culture. Typically set against monochrome fields of blue, red, or yellow, statements by public figures, from Donald Trump to the cultural theorist Mark Fisher, are reframed and paired with pop songs, hip-hop, and dance music. Cokes submits these texts to a precise and ruthless dressing down of forms of power that have long structured race, class, and gender.
In recent years, Cokes’s work has become increasingly attentive to architecture and spatial politics, appearing in iconic locations from Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center at Harvard to London’s Piccadilly Circus. For an exhibition presented by Hannah Hoffman Gallery in Los Angeles in 2019, Cokes developed an installation for the private residence of mid-century architect Paul Revere Williams. The first African American member of the American Institute of Architects, Williams built over 2,500 notable homes and structures in Southern California. Considering what it means to occupy a space—and specifically what kinds of spaces some people have been allowed to occupy—Cokes developed a poignant reflection on Williams’s life and legacy, and its broader entanglement with the aspirations and shortcomings of modernism in its heyday. Cokes also contrasts Williams’s biography with the personal history of Aretha Franklin, who passed away on the same day Cokes made his first site visit to the Williams home. By drawing together these two disparate luminaries, Cokes raises the stakes for his archaeology of Blackness, creating public histories of individual struggle and accomplishment within a building designed as the ultimate expression of the American dream.
Celebrating MoMA’s recent acquisition of 16 videos by Tony Cokes, this month’s Hyundai Card Video Views presents the two chapters of the artist’s video The Will & The Way... (2019); each chapter will play for one week. I recently spoke to Cokes via Zoom about how the video came together and his practice at this challenging moment.
—Stuart Comer, The Lonti Ebers Chief Curator of Media and Performance
Media and Performance at MoMA is made possible by Hyundai Card.
Major support is provided by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Director’s Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art.
Generous funding is provided by the Lonti Ebers Endowment for Performance and the Sarah Arison Endowment Fund for Performance.
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