Magazine article Artforum International

Yoshua Okon: Parque Galeria

Magazine article Artforum International

Yoshua Okon: Parque Galeria

Article excerpt

As the title indicates, Yoshua Okon's exhibition "Miasma" deals with a sticky and disagreeable subject matter: CIA interventions in Mexico. But the political subject matter is handled from an oblique perspective, inviting viewers to fill in the blanks or question what they are seeing. In fact, without reading the exhibition text, one might never have noticed the connection between the work on view and the CIA's activities in Mexico. It was clear, though, that the United States was a preoccupation of the artist's: The first thing one saw on entering the gallery was an unframed photograph of a bronze statue of George H. W. Bush surrounded by people riding Segways (all works titled Miasma and dated 2016). The pieces of the puzzle came together slowly in the gallery's first room, littered with photo-sculpture pieces, clustered together like the rubble of a nationalist discourse. These groupings of objects--cutout photographs mounted on MDF--included American eagles, letters decorated with stars and stripes, and, humorously enough, a few more people on Segways, not to mention an oversize photo of a cockroach hanging out in their midst. There was also a photo cutout sculpture of the same Bush sculpture in the center of the room, so the connections within the images were initially only referenced through echoes and repetitions.

In the next room, a large-scale ten-minute video projection again showed the same bronze statue, but this time it didn't seem so funny--no Segways, no sun shining, only fog, accompanied by an ominous lighting and sound design. In this video, Okon uncannily manages to make the bronze figure seem to come alive. Low-angle shots and flashlight-under-face-type lighting make the rather inane Bush sculpture turn monstrous. Its face starts to look like a mask a la Friday the 13th. At times, the image switches to that of the face of a different bronze sculpture: an eagle, its regal profile familiar from a thousand American seals and symbols. …

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