• Juan Obando and Yoshua Okón: DEMO
  • Juan Obando and Yoshua Okón: DEMO

Juan Obando and Yoshua Okón: DEMO

October 11, 2024 – January, 2025

Great Hall

DEMO is a multimedia exhibition by artists Juan Obando and Yoshua Okón that explores “astroturfing”, a marketing practice that generates artificial public demonstrations intended to appear as grassroots political movements. Through video, sculptures, and installation, the artists expose how astroturfing methods are used to manipulate public perceptions and neutralize political action.

The exhibition includes a series of video installations presenting a “blank” artificial protest staged by Obando and Okón. The artists hired a prepaid demonstration service to provide a crowd of actor-protesters to perform a public protest devoid of content in front of the Arizona state capitol building in Phoenix, AZ. In each video, actors gesticulate in protest without making any sound, carrying blank signs and wearing garments saturated in ‘Digital Green’ as a placeholder for political messaging. Commonly used in video production as a background color to create special effects, Digital Green also recalls AstroTurf, the synthetic grass from which astroturfing derives its name. This color extends throughout the exhibition to immerse viewers in the fill-in-the-blank aspects of these staged protests. DEMO also displays a functional trailer—like the ones that haul the props used to stage on-demand protests—in addition to sculptural assemblages composed of content-less protest signs, and other ephemera. 

Engaging the aesthetic, gestural, and performative dimensions of astroturfing, Obando and Okón highlight the power of disinformation on public perception, and urge us to consider the deep-seated intersections of visual culture, civic protest, concentrated capital, and political mechanisms.


DEMO is organized by Laura Copelin, Deputy Directory & Co-Lead Curator and Julio César Morales, Executive Director & Co-Lead Curator, with assistance from Alexis Wilkinson, Curator.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Arizona Commission on the Arts; and MOCA Tucson’s Board of Trustees, Ambassador Council, and Members.

In-kind support provided by the Downtown Clifton Hotel.

About the artists

Yoshua Okón’s work often blends staged environments with reality and history to raise questions of authenticity, commerce, politics, and cultural exchange. Described by Okón as near-sociological experiments, his works give audiences a unique insight into the subjects he portrays and evokes a sense of interconnectivity with issues normally considered removed from our everyday lives. Okón has exhibited his work in México, England, Germany, Tokyo, France, Italy, Istanbul,  and the US. His work is included in the collections of the Tate Modern, Hammer Museum, LACMA, Colección Jumex and MUAC, among others.

Juan Obando creates artwork that focuses on the critical intervention of social systems and the production of video-performances, post-digital objects, and screen-based installations. In his work, Obando presents the screen as a site where ideology confronts aesthetics and new worlds are speculated. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Arizona State University in Phoenix, AZ. His work has been exhibited in México, France, Colombia, Germany, and the US. His recent solo shows include “Fake New” at General Expenses (Mexico City, México, 2023,) “Summer Sets” in Faneuil Hall (Boston, MA, 2022), and “La Bodeguita de La Concordia” at Galería Santa Fé for the Luis Caballero National Art Prize (Bogotá, Colombia, 2021.) Selected group exhibitions include This Is Perfect, Perfect, Perfect (Transmediale, Berlin, Germany, 2024), The Future Is Not What It Used To Be (Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR, 2023), Game Changers (MAAM, Boston, 2020), Video Sur (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, 2018), and Rencontres de la Photographie (Arles, France, 2017). His work is part of collections such as The Perez Museum (Miami, FL, USA) and Kadist (San Francisco, USA, and Paris, France). He was awarded a Rhizome commission from The New Museum in 2012, a MassArt Foundation grant in 2017, and an Art Matters Fellowship in 2019.