Yoshua Okón | Crashing with power

Besmirched by arrogance of power, we hope the destiny asissts us. However, we live at discretion of government and conglomerates, which we commonly say we “deserve” it and we barely stand it as a long and painful illness we never heal.

Facing that factual and no less pernicious common place that has determined our walk in Latin America, is that the Mexican Yoshua Okón (1970) proposes POWER, monographic exhibition that summarizes the period between (1997-2017), and that according to its author emerges as reaction to: “The return of conservative governments, in a time of domination of the corporations, has generated different mobilizations of sectors affected by their skin color, their sex-biological condition and their place in the social scale”. Proceed expressed in a series of video-installations, photographs and sculptures that are exhibited until June 2 at Matucana100.

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Through a confrontation of ideas, Okón calls to reveal himself against the different forms of submission that are incubated as an underground and systematized phenomenon of violence, which in the whole of the exhibition is staged through a parody with which the artist creates a series of metaphors in which it reviews the actions of certain supremacist, paramilitary, neo-Nazi or power groups such as the CIA, the US agency being the indispensable piece in this puzle of military interventions and putsch in a Latin America, also broken by the act of certain transnational holdings, which in themselves pierce something more than the soul, as emphasized in Freedom Fries: Still Life (2014), and that body border on the morbid exposed as if it were another promotional combo of a recognized fast food chain. A staging that demands on our part, not only stay with the performative action, but see how that business model perversely perverts our eating habits. Prerogative that in addition to the apparent superficiality of the cliché accentuates the precarization of the body through the loss of aesthetic value, as a symbol of damage.

It should also be noted that several of the works exhibited here privilege sarcasm and the body as a form of activism. Proof of this is the contrast given in Chocorrol (1997), with the typical xoloitzcuintle or Aztec dog, crossing with a pedigree dog (french poodle), who moved by instinct break down the class barriers imposed by their masters. Demonstrating as a fact between fortuitous and daily, totally violates its prefabricated comfort zone, a circumstance that the author takes to enhance the ritual character of an act, which in itself accentuates social differences and their consequent permeability.

Freedom Fries: still life, 2014, caja de luz con impresión a contraluz. 59 x 12 x 10 pulgadas.
Freedom Fries: still life, 2014, Light box with wutg backlighting printing. 59 x 12 x 10 inch.

But Okón rightly raises the need to be aware of how certain superstructures have modified the destinies of all of America, as seen in Miasma (2017), which presents the “History of the CIA in Mexico”, a book written by Manuel Buendía in 1984 , a journalist murdered a few months later, and where the artist makes a recreation by intervening 35 posters based on his original cover, as a way to show the decomposition that underlies his interior. Event that is replicated in Pulpo (2011), where from the nickname used by the United Fruit Company, today Chiquita Banana, a company known for its privileges in export without payment since 1901, but also for its deep ties with the CIA and therefore, very linked to the coup d’état that occurred in Guatemala in the nineties. More than enough reason for the artist to follow his tradition to create scenes with ex-combatants of that civil war that today remain in the United States as undocumented. Video installation that to some extent runs into Oracle (2015), a proposal that stages the protests carried out by Arizona Border Defender, a militia made up of ex-police and former ultranationalist military members opposed to the arrival of children from Central America, and who today agrees with the What happens on the US-Mexico border with the thousands of human beings who try to flank the wall imposed by those who believe they own absolute power.

In that reflective delineation Bocanegra (2007) also emerges, a set of four video installations: El saludo, Paseo por el parque, La Reunión and La Película, which record the appearance of neo-Nazi groups in the Mexican context, under the premise that : “The Aztecs did not mix, so for them being Aryans is respecting their race”. Something that does not stop being worrisome, since in the last time there has been a growing interest in this type of ultranationalist and supremacist organizations. Fact evidenced by Okón himself when in 2009, when he completed a residency in our country, he found a bar with a marked neo-Nazi tendency, amidst photographs, little flags and endless objects that glorified the Third Reich, with a scale representation Augusto Pinochet’s funeral, a situation that he later reproduced in silicone and plaster creating a phantasmagoric representation in which the funeral march with his coffin are the center of the sculptural installation called CHILLE (2009).

María Quispe, 2008, foto instalación 128 fotografías, blanco negro y color. 12 × 18 pulgadas cada una.
María Quispe, 2008, 128 photographs, black and white, and color. 12 × 18 inches each.

In conclusion, the interesting thing about this sample is that it helps the visitor to understand the true scope of the Power, allowing each one to see how much this turning point affects him, which in a certain way claims to revert what was expressed by Amparo Ochoa, in the Maldición de la Malinche: “We were left with the curse of giving the foreigner, our faith, our culture, our bread, our money. And we keep changing gold for glass beads and we give our riches for bright mirrors.”

Octopus, 2011, video Instalación 17:12 minutos en loop. Dimensiones: variables. Logotipo 43 x 43 pulgadas. Créditos cortesía de Centro Cultural Matucana 100.
Octopus, 2011, video Installation
17:12 minutes in loop.
Size: variables.
Logo 43 x 43 inches. Courtesy of Centro Cultural Matucana 100.

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