BBAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht
Evil.16 (Torture.Musik), 2009-2011
Evil.16 (Torture.Musik) investigates the literal weaponization of pop
music. Through a selection of excerpts from journalist Moustafa
Bayoumi’s essay titled “Disco Inferno” (2005), on the music used in
psychological warfare tactics by the US Army, the work examines how
music and noise are deployed by the military on both sides of the
Atlantic. Matching the text from Bayoumi’s investigation with songs
reportedly used in US torture programs—ranging from musician Britney
Spears’s hit “…Baby One More Time” (1998) to the theme song of the
children’s show Sesame Street—the work not only highlights the physical
effects of music when used as a tool for torture, but exposes its continued
weaponization at the margins of legality, problematizing its role as an
agent of cultural imperialism.
Tony Cokes is an artist and educator based in Providence, Rhode Island, where he serves as a
professor in the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, Providence.
This presentation is part of BAK’s outreach program, aimed at “meeting people where they
are” by sharing artworks from the archive that are driven by the urgencies of our time. The
exhibition Tony Cokes: To Live as Equals took place at BAK from 28 February to 17 May
BAK activities have been made possible by financial support from the Netherlands’ Ministry
of Education, Culture and Science and Municipality of Utrecht.