Tony Cokes | Public Art Commission | United States Consulate, Munich

Tony Cokes, Some Munich Moments 1937–1972, 2022, Banner, Dimensions variable. Commissioned by Haus der Kunst and Kunstverein München, Munich.

TONY COKES | Public Art Commission

United States Consulate General
Königinstraße 5
80539 Munich

This installation is part of Tony Cokes’s exhibition Fragments, or just Moments, currently on view at Haus der Kunst and Kunstverein München. The artist is known for creating dynamic, audiovisual works that combine found texts with pop music drawn from diverse times and cultural sources.

Cokes's works in public space link the shared exhibition history of Haus der Kunst and Kunstverein München and respond to the politics of memory, as well as to cultural forms of rewriting and reframing history. Through his large-scale interventions, Cokes transforms reading from a private practice into a social act creating a temporary moment of commonality, which he critically questions through his references.

Installed here at the US Consulate in Munich, which sits between the two institutions that house the exhibition, the text within the work was sourced from a lecture by theorist Kodwo Eshun in 2018. Eshun is mostly known for his writing on Afrofuturism, a science fiction genre grounded on the experiences of the African Diaspora. The phrase, "The only way to protect joy is by practicing it,” was quoted by Eshun from a conversation between the American historian and scholar Robin D. G. Kelley and the cultural theorist and poet Fred Moten, both of whom are important references for Cokes. In the conversation, Moten and Kelley discuss the fundamental characteristics and goals of Black Studies. According to Moten, knowledge production around Black life, culture, and history is inevitably linked to solidarity with indigenous communities that share similar experiences of displacement and oppression in the context of Western nation-state building. To Moten, maintaining joy is a political act of resistance within Black communities.

The full quote by Moten reads: “The only way to protect joy is by practicing it. I think these are fundamental hallmarks of Black social life, and they manifest themselves in ways that would link up to Indigenous forms of life when it’s really all about, again, trying to figure out a way to walk lightly on the Earth.”

For more information, please visit Haus der Kunst's and Kunstverein München's website.

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