Tony Cokes

Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art,

This US-based artist’s first UK solo exhibition is at the Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, a free public art gallery and venue located in south London.

This show is a complicated exhibition meted out in simple formats. The artist is unafraid of confrontation, and boldly embeds the politics of racism, music, sexism, violence, war and torture into his work.

Every aspect is intentionally over-amped. The combination of flashing primary colours, loud music and issue-laden dialogue is packaged in a bold and sensible san-serif text and delivered on the several monitors distributed throughout the three floors of the gallery. Be prepared, for Cokes’ worldview is . . . now . . . and disturbing.

Tony Cokes soundbites renowned artists such as Aretha Franklin, Mark Fisher, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Public Enemy, and even Donald Trump, public personalities whose issues range from racism, poverty, war and torture, sexism, disenfranchisement and even laziness.

Cokes marries the dialogues with flashing lights and bold colours that assail your eyes on monitors. We read texts that are at odds with what we are actually hearing. It becomes a question of perceived reality. Which is more true? Which aspect will the brain believe? Which format will be more convincing?

This show successfully exposes the ambiguities and complexities of our times and keeps our interests peaked until the very last frame.

Tony Cokes billboard references the use of loud music as a means of torture.

It is a show that merits your full attention; we are there to be challenged, and there is a light at the end of Cokes’ tunnel . . . I think.

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