Yoshua Okón

Fridge-Freezer is a 2-channel video installation where Yoshua Okón explores the darker side of suburbia, described by the artist as the ideal environment for a numb existence of passive consumerism and social and environmental disengagement.” Filmed at display homes in the suburbs of Manchester in the United Kingdom, the video features real-estate agents clad in bright-red blazers enthusiastically describing features of the ‘dream home’ as they walk through different rooms. A couple of additional elements, a couch and neutral soft carpet, recreate the domestic setting and immerse the viewer in the unfolding scenes. As the video progresses, the real-estate agents are seen between showings in moments of crisis and panic, breathing heavily or completely melting down. Fridge-Freezer portrays the illusion of safety and prosperity that suburbia provides, and most importantly, the alienation and its side effects, which remain hidden underneath the pristine surfaces of the perfect home.

Working primarily in video, Okón combines the genre of documentary with performativeelements that together blur the boundary between reality and fiction. His video installations capture improvisational narratives created by the artist and his collaborators—performers willing to participate in a game of social chance that may easily spiral out of control. In them, the camera acts as a catalyst that unleashes his subjects, empowering them to act out an assumed character and in the process revealing their own awareness and perceptions. Characterized by their uncomfortable, somber nature these works deliberately provoke viewers through confrontational humor as a way to achieve catharsis. His videos are used as a device to implicate audiences and also activate them as a participant, pressuring them to consider questions of social conduct and personal behavior within the context of the authoritative nation-state, and to question their own attitudes towards power, ethics, and prejudice vis-á-vis class, status, and marginality. Described by Okón as near-sociological experiments, his works give the audience a unique insight into the subjects he portrays. Most importantly, they also evoke a sense of interconnectivity: deeply implicating us in issues that we may normally consider foreign or removed from our everyday lives.