The Coke Factory

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© Courtesy of Ritter/Zamet
The Coke Factory
Curated by: Jonathan Ellis King

London E1 2BJ
United Kingdom
September 9th, 2010 - October 23rd, 2010

+44 (0)207 790 8746
Wednesday – Saturday 12 – 6 or by appointment


“Art is the most beautiful deception of all. And although people try to incorporate the everyday events of life in it, we must hope that it will remain a deception lest it become a utilitarian thing, sad as a factory.”
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)

Welcome to The Coke Factory. This group exhibition provides a site-specific setting assisting comprehension of the work of a new body of artists which has arisen from New York in recent years. Through placement of these artists within the conceptual bounds of a conventional industrial ‘factory’, this exhibition will seek to reveal and examine their creative motives, methods, and the result of their productivity in the context of the overtly mechanised society in which we inhabit. The Coke Factory will principally act as a vehicle for interpretation, its utilitarian backdrop facilitating a portal through which the collective social commentary of the artists and their aesthetic energies, showcase the potent cultural domain and influence of New York City.

The Coke Factory recognises and pays tribute to the hyper-consumerist framework of Capitalist America, and its heartbeat, New York, as an epicentre which embodies the idiosyncratic characteristics of the commonplace industrial inner-workings of the modern factory. This is duly expressed in a multitude of lines and grids; of streets and avenues; of lights and cars; of noise and pollution which replicate the mechanised production lines; the conveyor belts; the billowing of smoke; and mass yield of a manufactory. New York, in this instance, cannot be overlooked as an environmental hub which becomes vital to the artist’s intellectual modes of creativity and origination. Indeed, environment suggests that of a stage or a platform, intertwined with its inherent social and cultural forces at work within a city which never ceases. The conceptual location of this exhibition in a ‘factory’ remains consistent, therefore, with the environmental arena of the city which is never still; never at rest; never at peace. The Coke Factory comprises artists who are embedded to this reality and sentiment. Their practice capitulates to the ever-dynamic, irreconcilable, attitude and vibrancy, of the New York art scene.

In this exhibition, each artwork assumes form as a popularised by-product; individually fabricated and assembled through the rigorous processes of the ‘factory’s’ operational channels. Indeed, each work can equally be interpreted as a vital cog within this grand machine, each performing an important task; much like the buildings and gridded blocks of New York acting as minute yet critical pinions to the city’s cyclic existence. Extracting substance from the concept underlying the exhibition, ‘Coke’ offers deeper connotations and grisly undertones within this urban crux of desolation. Whilst reference is made to the iconic soft-drink, ‘Coca-Cola’; clear indication of the narcotic and its associated aggressive and destructive sub-culture within such urban centres is also accredited. Therefore, The Coke Factory’s existence, its whereabouts, and its function become ambiguous and elusive. Yet, this conceptual gallery space or ‘factory’ represents and, indeed, fundamentally remains a site of creation and productivity. Debussy’s charge is negated in the realisation that The Coke Factory enables continuing deception; the artwork or cogs rise above its utilitarian environment. Therein lies true aesthetic beauty and value which transcends its surroundings. But for whom? For what purpose? And to what end?