In Black Celebration (1988, 17 min), Tony Cokes merges newsreel footage of riots in urban black neighbourhoods in the 1960s with popular music and text commentary to create an incisive counter-reading. ‘This videotape involves the riots that took place in the Watts section of Los Angeles, California in August, 1965 and the Black neighbourhoods of other American cities during the 1960s. The black and white work uses newsreel footage from events in Watts, Boston, Newark, and Detroit interspersed with text commentary. The newsreel voiceovers are replaced by music. The intent of the piece is to introduce a reading that will contradict received ideas which characterise these riots as criminal or irrational.’ (T.C.)
Black Celebration was made for the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Text: Morrissey, Martin L. Gore, Barbara Kruger, The Situationists International; Music: Skinny Puppy; Editor: Eleanor Goldsmith.