I’m interested in the resonances, the re-habitualizations, and the echoes of that historical moment in the contemporary.“ Tony Cokes
“Fragments, or just Moments” marks the first institutional solo exhibition of U.S.-American artist Tony Cokes (*1956 Richmond, USA) in Germany and the first comprehensive collaboration between Haus der Kunst and Kunstverein München.
Cokes takes the historical connection between the two venues located in close proximity as a point of departure to present the newly commissioned work Some Munich Moments 1937−1972 (2022), which is shown both in the two institutions and in the public space situated between them. Drawing from archival source materials, the video investigates the interlinked history of both exhibition venues during the Nazi era and beyond. Some Munich Moments 1937−1972 thus relates the cultural propaganda strategies of the Nazi regime to the visual identity of the 1972 Munich Olympics, which had been coded in direct opposition as “anti-fascist” and “cosmopolitan”.
The new commission Some Munich Moments 1937–1972 is still installed at Haus der Kunst as well as within public space, where text and sound from the work are presented in the pedestrian subway at the south end of the English Garden and on the fence of the American Embassy.
For more than three decades, in his artistic practice, Tony Cokes has explored the political ideologies of media and pop culture and its impact on society, becoming one of the most important, post-conceptual artists to emerge in recent times. Grounded in the experience of the visual exploitation of African American communities in film, television, advertising, and music videos, Cokes has developed a unique language for video essays since the late 1990s that vehemently rejects representative imagery. The artist’s fast-moving audiovisual works are based on found text fragments and pop music, stemming from different times and contexts. Through the constant friction between the discursive and disparate cultural references, Cokes alters conventional forms of perception to trace historical continuities. The act of reading discourses on structural racism, capitalism, warfare, and gentrification becomes an interlaced, bodily and public experience.
With “Fragments, or just Moments”, Haus der Kunst also stages a survey exhibition that brings together selected audio-visual works from Tony Cokes’ three-decade-spanning œuvre. Situated in the LSK-Galerie, the former air-raid shelter of the museum, the exhibition displays Cokes’ ongoing preoccupation with history and temporality, and sketches a fragmented chronology through the 20th and 21st centuries, moving from the mid-1930s to the present. The fractured timeline does not unfold as a precise linear sequence, but rather demonstrates the interconnectedness, reverberations, and shifts of socio-political realities from different times. Cokes addresses the role of image and sound for ideological manipulation, warfare, exploitation, and the capitalist system inherently based on racist thinking. With its episodic structure of historical events and in Cokes’ sampling of discursive, visual, and sonic sources, the exhibition exposes the continuities of structural oppression and social inequality across time and place.
Click here to download the online booklet including the floor plan and wall texts of the exhibition “Tony Cokes. Fragments, or just Moments” in the LSK-Galerie at Haus der Kunst.
Curated by Emma Enderby and Elena Setzer
The exhibition is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and by the Federal Government Comissioner for Culture and the Media.
The exhibition by Tony Cokes is a joint project of Haus der Kunst and Kunstverein München. It is still on display at Haus der Kunst as well as in public space. The display at Kunstverein München ended on 11.9.22.