The exhibition presents Yoshua Okón's early and latest film installations. Focusing on absurd political and social aspects of the North American region, the artist points to the interconnection of transnational phenomena, such as disproportionate consumption, rampant dispossession, and blind nationalism. Okón challenges the boundaries between artificiality and reality by using reenactment as narrative technique, in order to exasperate social dysfunctions. Experiencing this exhibition at Chalton Gallery as an installation of three moving image works, the visitor witnesses a non-linear world. The presented works lie between social performance and simulation, constantly enacting and re-enacting an uncertainty towards what is both seen and unseen. "Future Shock" invites the viewer to reflect on the consequences that post-truth politics has on reality. Clichés, forms of supremacy, and prejudices empower massive shifts in perception, opening up new worlds of domination that are continually reproducing themselves. How can we escape the shock of a world meltdown if not by overcoming the disconnection between the geopolitical micro and macro, present and future?
Installed in the main window of the gallery, the singles channel video "Freedom Fries: Still Life" (2014) puts a spotlight on the dehumanisation of the body, promoted through adverts and accelerated by food corporations. The artist invites a counter model – a loyal customer of McDonald's – to strike a pose on the 'fast food catwalk', where daily consumers pursue their 'freedom' in choosing their own diet and life style, while in fact trapped in a spiral of disproportionate consumption.
In "Canned Laughter" (2009), a three channel video installation presented in the main room of the gallery, Yoshua Okón imagines the production of laughter in one of the most dystopian industrial realities of Mexico, the maquiladora. In this establishment promoted by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, the artist sets up a hilarious schizophrenia, alluding to globalised exploitation and the impossibility of reproducing authentic emotions through technology.
Adopting the format of TV show, Yoshua Okón presents "The Indian Project: Rebuilding History" (2015), a single channel video installation in the back room of the gallery. Speaking an urgent voice on misrepresentation of nationality, this film focuses on the community of Skowhegan (Maine) originally called Milburn, but re-christened in the 19th century to what is thought to be its original Abenaki, Native American name. The area, where Skowhegan is located, was the site of some of the most atrocious acts against Native Americans, purging any authentic trace of their culture. In an attempt to attract tourists, the local community tries to resuscitate the spirit of indigenous times by erecting an 80 ft. tall Native American wooden sculpture and also re-branding the town itself upon a contentious native heritage. Along with some invested inhabitants of Skowhegan, Yoshua Okón recreates a skewed approximation of a native ceremony.
"Future Shock" is presented by Chalton Gallery running during Frieze London. A public series of talks featuring artist Yoshua Okón and curator Giulia Colletti accompanies the exhibition. Dates will be announced in September 2018 at www.chaltongallery.org. Since its establishment, Chalton Gallery has been a project space dedicated to showcasing British and Mexican artists at different stages of their career, with the aim of initiating lasting collaborations between art professionals from both countries.
Yoshua Okón (Mexico City, 1970) is an artist based in Mexico City. His artistic research pivots on experiments executed for the camera blending staged situations, documentation, and improvisation, questioning conventional perceptions of reality, truth, selfhood and morality. In 1994, Yoshua Okón along with Miguel Calderón founded La Panadería in a former bakery. Until 2002, this project served Mexico City as a vibrant non-profit space for exhibitions, residencies, and cultural events involving local and international artists. In 2009, Yoshua Okón establishes SOMA along with artists such as Francis Alÿs, Teresa Margolles, Mario García Torres, and Julieta Aranda. It is conceived as a non-profit space, which comes directly from the tradition of La Panadería. SOMA is an organization aiming at nurturing discussion and exchange in the field of contemporary art and education in Mexico City. Its mission is to provide a forum for dialogue between artists, cultural producers, and the public at large. Yoshua Okón’s works have been featured in Manifesta11 (Zurich); Gwangju Biennale (South Korea), and included in the collections of Tate Modern, Hammer Museum, LACMA, Colección Jumex and MUAC, among others. Recent solo shows include Yoshua Okón: Collateral, MUAC, Mexico City; Yoshua Okón: In the Land of Ownership, Asakusa, Tokyo; Salò Island, UC Irvine, Irvine; Piovra, Kaufmann Repetto, Milan; Poulpe, Mor Charpentier, Paris; Octopus, Cornerhouse, Manchester and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and SUBTITLE, Städtische Kunsthalle, Munich. Recent group shows include: Antes de la Resaca, MUAC, Mexico City; Incongruous, Musèe Cantonal des Beux-Arts, Lausanne; The Mole´s Horizon, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels; Mercosur Biennial, Porto Alegre; Amateurs, CCA Wattis; San Francisco; Laughing in a Foreign Language, Hayward Gallery, London; Adaptive Behavior, New Museum, NY. Yoshua Okón studied at UCLA Los Angeles, graduating in 2002.
Giulia Colletti (Palermo, 1993) is a curator, who is currently working as the Associate Curator of Chalton Gallery. Previously, she pursued a curatorial internship at CCA Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow and she was the assistant curator at OFF Biennale Budapest. She has worked at a number of international institutions, including The Hunterian Glasgow, La Biennale di Venezia, and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia. She has recently completed an MLitt in Curatorial Practice at The Glasgow School of Art. She has written articles that have been featured in Kabul Magazine, Juliet, Artribune, and The Art Review Glasgow, among others. She is currently participating in A Natural Oasis?, initiated by BJCEM. Recent projects include: Conjunctive Tissue, with Marco Giordano, KaOZ (Manifesta12 Collateral); One Missing Sock After Doing Laundry, featuring Elisabetta Benassi, Gabriele De Santis, Tessa Lynch, Iftach Gazit, Scott Myles, Jonathan Monk, David Shrigley Santo Tolone, Alek O., and Alessandro Vizzini, in partnership with CCA (Glasgow); On General Antagonism with Eduardo Abarroa and Ross Little, in partnership with The Lab Program, Aeromoto, and Frontera 115 (Mexico City); I See Doors of Opportunity Where Are No Doors, with David Sherry at Civic Room (Glasgow), in partnership with CassArt and Patricia Fleming Projects.