Yoshua Okon invites people to have a one-to-one conversation with him based around a set of questions that he frequently asks himself. His temporary office at the Hayward Gallery is named after the independent UK public body that acts as a mediator and helps to resolve problems and disputes in the workplace.
During the 45-minute appointment, participants choose questions to discuss from the following list:
Do you believe our quality of life is better than in a hunter-gatherer society?
Do you believe we have the power to control the destiny of our civilization?
Do you believe technology will save us?
Do you believe the Darwinist worldview has truly succeeded?
Do you believe nationalism and democracy are compatible?
Do you believe nationalism and humanism are compatible?
Do you believe some societies are more advanced than others?
What is your idea of progress?
What is your idea of wellbeing?
Is Mexico part of Western Civilization?
Do you believe your every day actions (way of life) are connected to violence, corruption and exploitation around the globe?
Do you believe individualism is intrinsically alienating?
Do you believe the Judeo-Christian tradition is intrinsically alienating?
Do you believe we have culturally left behind the spirit behind human zoos?
Do you believe that for democracy to be possible it needs to be universally applied?
Do you believe it is ethical to have children?
The aim of the session is not to answer these questions but to discuss together the issues brought up by each one.
This class is suitable for over 18s only.
Yoshua Okón (b. 1970, Mexico City, Mexico)
Yoshua Okón describes his art as 'a series of near-sociological experiments.' Over the past two decades, he has created projects that make use of staged situations and semi-orchestrated performances, often with the participation of people that he finds in public places. He has worked with Guatemalan day labourers, veterans of their country's civil war; Mexico City policemen; a family living in California's High Desert; and, in a re-enactment of Joseph Beuys' 1974 cohabitation with a coyote, Okón confined himself with a human 'coyote', or Mexican migrant smuggler, hired to act like the animal. Okón says of these interventions that they 'act like detonators that dislocate social codes' and that they aim to question our habitual perceptions of reality and truth, selfhood and morality. In 2010, Okón co-founded an art school in Mexico City, which has been described as being more like an intervention than an art school.