fbpx Tony Cokes, 4 Voices/4 Weeks | CIRCA 2021

Tony Cokes, 4 Voices/4 Weeks

1-28 February, CIRCA 2021

American visual artist Tony Cokes will broadcast four powerful new films confronting police violence and the questions we face in the post-pandemic era, capitalizing on the Piccadilly Lights screen to put on the largest public display of Cokes’ distinctive colour and text compositions.

‘4 Voices / 4 Weeks’ presents Cokes’ translation of words by John Lydon, Judith Butler, US civil rights hero John Lewis and Elijah McClain, a 23-year old African American man who died after being put in a chokehold by police in 2019. The works move from punk provocation to peaceful self-sacrifice, recalling McClain’s final words and expounding our deep responsibilities in the wake of violence against the vulnerable. Across four parts, Cokes’ 4 Voices emerge from contraposed positions but describe an arc and array of crucial realities we face today: mourning mass death, reclaiming the power of public gathering, and continuing the struggle for racial and social equality.

Cokes is the author of politically resonant works that appropriate and reframe diverse texts to challenge narratives in media produced under late capitalism. He is acclaimed for urgent and piercing critical works that bring together colour theory, his signature systems of coded text, and audio, which includes music in his new works for CIRCA from Manic Street Preachers, The Notwist, Joy Division and Deadbeat (Canadian musician Scott Monteith/BLKRTZ).

For CIRCA, Cokes translates texts into a code he devised and which often features in his work, filtering direct statements through a coding process made up of simple abbreviations and symbols. This approach produces striking and unsettling graphics for the Piccadilly Screen and pushes against the expected hyper-legibility of such a large public display.


Part I (Week 1: 1-7 February): John Lydon “Anger Is An Energy” (NGR IZ N NRG). Music: Casino by The Notwist.

Part II (Week 2: 8-14 February): John Lewis “Testament B” (“2GTHR U CN RDM TH SL OF TH NATN”). Music: Huey Lewis Dub by Deadbeat (Blikartz).

Part III (Week 3: 15-21 February): Elijah McClain “His Last Words” (HS LST WRDZ”). Music: Between The Clock and The Bed by Manic Street Preachers.

Part IV (Week 4: 22-28 February): Judith Butler “Mourning Is A Political Act Amid The Pandemic & Its Disparities”. Music: Exercise One by Joy Division.

Since the 1980s, Tony Cokes has developed a precise visual style marked by animated text, found images, and solid-color slides. His works combine cultural fragments, reframing the images and ideas that are designed to construct our habits and identities. By extracting source texts from their original contexts and layering elements that often clash, Cokes examines media’s operations and the ways in which it manifests power. Recent exhibitions include the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona; ARGOS centre for audiovisual arts, Brussels; Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, London. Tony Cokes lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island, where he serves as Professor in the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University.

For his CIRCA 2021 commission, Cokes broadcast ‘4 Voices / 4 Weeks’ confronting police violence and the questions we face in the post-pandemic era.