Home / News / ASU Art Museum presents new commissioned work by artist-in-residence Yoshua Okón

ASU Art Museum presents new commissioned work by artist-in-residence Yoshua Okón

June 1, 2016

Tempe, Ariz. — This summer, ASU Art Museum will present a new commissioned work by Mexico City-based artist Yoshua Okón, in an exhibition titled "Oracle" that will be on view July 2 – Aug. 22, 2015 in the Top Gallery at the museum’s 10th Street and Mill Avenue location. The multi-channel video installation centers on anti-immigration protests against unaccompanied children who are fleeing violence and poverty from Central America into the United States.

Produced during Okón’s residency at the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program, "Oracle" was inspired by Okón’s experiences in Oracle, Ariz. This small town is known for its complicated politics and mix of pro- and anti-immigration community, as well as being a stronghold for the Minutemen, now called Arizona Border Protectors, a volunteer organization dedicated to patrolling the U.S./Mexico border alongside Border Patrol forces. In July 2014, Oracle was the arena for the largest-yet protest against the entrance of unaccompanied children from Central America into the U.S. During Okón’s first trip to Oracle, he spoke to the leaders who orchestrated the protest, who agreed to gather those who participated in the protest in order for Okón to create a live reenactment, based on what happened from their ideological perspective.

“Okon’s 'Oracle' project questions the relevance of nationalism in this transnational age,” says the exhibition’s curator, Julio César Morales. “In the light of the history of U.S. invasions in Central America, this piece explores root causes in order to give new readings of why thousands of children are risking their lives to come into the United States.”

"Oracle" is the second part to Okón’s critically acclaimed video "Octopus" (2011), which was produced while Okón was an artist-in-residence at the Hammer Museum, at the University of California, Los Angeles. The first video is a reenactment of the Guatemalan Civil War at the parking lot of a Home Depot in Los Angeles, where participants work as day laborers. These laborers are also ex-guerillas who fought in the war. In conjunction with "Oracle" at the ASU Art Museum, "Octopus" will be on view Aug. 24 – Oct. 3, 2015 at the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program Project Space, located in downtown Phoenix at Combine Studios.

"Oracle" is part of the Contact Zones series of exhibitions at the ASU Art Museum, which focuses on contemporary migration and its intricate uncertainties within border culture, destiny and contested histories. The series includes new commission-based video installations, public engaged programs, guest-curated exhibitions and artist initiated projects.


Yoshua Okón was born in 1970 in Mexico City, where he currently lives. His work, like a series of near-sociological experiments executed for the camera, blends staged situations, documentation and improvisation and questions habitual perceptions of reality and truth, selfhood and morality. In 2002 he received an MFA from UCLA with a Fulbright scholarship. Okón has had several international solo exhibitions, including "Yoshua Okón 2007–2010" at the Yerba Buena Center for The Arts in San Francisco; "Salò Island" at UC Irvine; "Piovra" at Kaufmann Repetto in Milan; "Poulpe" at Mor Charpentier in Paris; "Octopus" at Cornerhouse, Manchester and Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and "SUBTITLE" at Städtische Kunsthalle in Munich, as well as group exhibitions at the Gwangju Biennale in Korea, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, CCA Wattis in San Francisco, New Museum and MoMA PS1 in New York. His work is included in the collections of Tate Modern, Hammer Museum, LACMA, Colección Jumex and MUAC, among others.


"Yoshua Okón: Oracle" is curated by Julio César Morales and is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Museums for America Grant Number MA–20–14–0236–14.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. Museums for America is the institute's largest grant program for museums, supporting projects and ongoing activities that build museums' capacity to serve their communities. To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

The ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program has received additional generous support for artists and projects from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the British Council, CEC ArtsLink, Furla Foundation and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.


The ASU Art Museum, named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America magazine, is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

To learn more about the museum, call 480.965.2787, or visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu.

Location/Parking: The museum has three locations across the metro Phoenix area: the ASU Art Museum at 10th Street and Mill Avenue, on ASU’s Tempe campus; the ASU Art Museum Brickyard at 7th Street and Mill Avenue, in downtown Tempe; and the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program Project Space at Combine Studios, in downtown Phoenix. Designated parking is available at all three locations.

Admission: Free at all three locations.

Hours: The ASU Art Museum and ASU Art Museum Brickyard are open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program Project Space in downtown Phoenix at Combine Studios has variable public hours depending on exhibition schedules and is open by appointment. 

Public Contact: 
Juno Schaser
PR Specialist