Yoshua Okon poses challenging new questions to the relation between performance and video, set and location, voyeurism and participation. At the same time, perhaps the major effect of his work is an almost uncanny triangulation between comedy, critique and satire. Almost everything he’s done adjudicates, seemingly without effort, between the cultural, aesthetic and subjective dimensions in play between these terms, so that social commentary is laced with humor; irony mediated by self-reflexivity; and improvised action tangled up in webs of class and identity. Okon has used the exchange between camera and director, subject and location, identity and performance to shred and reconvene some of the modernist paradigms addressed in these exchanges—in particular those caught up in discourses of the candid and the case study.
Okon’s work stages an elaborate retort to these fictions of truth and material reality. First, without in any way fetishizing the camera, he posits video and its mise-en-scene as the leading term of an avowedly open construct. Secondly, instead of concealing his approach and relation to his subjects by effectively stalking them, Okon enters into a form of double contract or agreement based on a partial disclosure of his own status as "director" coupled with an indication of the action he wants (or imagines) - a vague script diagram if you like. What results is organized as a commentary on the social permissiveness through which historical trivialization is produced: it is about the experience and circulation not of partial recall, or selective understanding, but of an intermittently knowing and reductive misrepresentation predicated on judgments that are casual and ill-informed.
John C. Welchman is Distinguished Professor of art history at the University of California and Chair Emeritus, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. He is the author of numerous publications on modern and contemporary art including Modernism Relocated (1995), Art After Appropriation (2001), Past Realization (2016), After the Wagnerian Bouillabaisse (2019), Richard Jackson (2020) and Royal Book Lodge (2023). He edited Rethinking Borders (1996), Institutional Critique and After (2006), The Aesthetics of Risk (2008), and Black Sphinx: On the Comedic in Modern Art (2010), as well as three volumes of Kelley’s writings: Foul Perfection: Essays and Criticism (2003); Minor Histories: Statements: Conversations, Proposals (2004); and Interviews, Conversations, Chit-Chat (2006).
Dinsdag / Tuesday 18.04.2023, 18:00
Académie royale des Beaux-Arts
École supérieure des Arts
Rue du Midi 144