Tony Cokes

In a series of videotapes and installations produced since the mid-1980s, Tony Cokes engages in cogent investigations of identity and opposition. His works question how race influences the construction of subjectivities (personal, cultural and historical), and how race, gender and class are perceived through what he terms the "representational regimes of image and sound," as perpetuated by Hollywood, the media and popular culture.

Cokes' analytical strategy is one of reframing and repositioning. His critiques are informed by contemporary cultural studies, poststructuralist theory, and popular texts; he quotes from sources ranging from Louis Althusser, Malcolm X and Catherine Clement to Public Enemy and William Burroughs. His works are often assemblages of archival footage, images from Hollywood films, text commentary, voiceover, and popular music.

For the past several years Cokes has also been creating installations and tapes as part of the collective X-PRZ. Founded in 1991, X-PRZ is a biracial "art band" of four artists — Cokes, Doug Anderson, Kenseth Armstead, and Mark Pierson — working in installation, photography, painting, sculpture, and video. Cokes states: "We tend to manipulate cultural readings, desires and effects rather than attempt to address the social in documentary or realist styles... The work relies on vernacular material (found images, texts) which are contextualized to provoke questioning, instabilities... We see our work as a willful misreading and perverse misapplication of the histories of various cultural practices, from critical theory to pop music."

Tony Cokes was born in 1956. He received a B.A. from Goddard College, Vermont, participated in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, and gained an M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. He has received grants and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Cokes' video and multimedia installation works have been included in exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum Soho, and The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and in Documenta X, Kassel, Germany. Cokes currently teaches at Brown University. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.