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Oscar Murillo Destroys his Passport during Flight as a Protest!

  • oscar murillo passport
April 12, 2016
Studied Photography at IED in Milan, Italy. Passionate about art, frequent visitor of exhibitions, Widewalls photography specialist and Editor-in-Chief.

Colombian-born artist Oscar Murillo flushed his British passport down the airplane toilet in what appears to be a protest against ”the colonial situation in which we still in”, as well as an impromptu performance piece. Although the incident occurred last month, his gallery David Zwirner confirmed the news just now to ARTNews, stating that the artist had been subsequently detained and deported from the Sydney airport upon arrival. Oscar Murillo was visiting Australia in regard to his participation to the Sydney Biennale, running through June 5, 2016.

The location of a Sydney Biennale venue, where visitors can see Oscar Murillo’s meandering – black wall, 2016 artwork

Why did Oscar Murillo Destroy his Passport ?

According to sources, Oscar Murillo boarded a flight in London on March 8, en route to Sydney via Hong Kong, and some four hours before he was set to land in Australia, he decided to enhance his existing project for the Biennale by adding a unique performance piece to it. The artist apparently wanted to create a situation that directly commented on his own geopolitical identity by flushing one of his passports down into open the skies. “I wanted to create an entropy, a special situation, a traumatism. In fact I didn’t have any thought-out plan. The question is: what happens when one can’t be identified? It was a way to ‘reboot’ myself, to start off from scratch again just like when we arrived from Colombia to London in 1997,” he wrote in a written declaration. The answer to his question came upon his landing in Sydney, where the authorities detained him for two days despite his having a valid Colombian passport and eventually deported him to Singapore.

A partner at David Zwirner, Julia Joern, told ARTNews that Oscar Murillo destroyed his passport as an act and response to the notion of ‘privilege’ that is associated with certain citizenships in the Western world.” During a talk he gave at a panel in Hong Kong in March, the artist had mentioned this situation, calling for the art world to ”get rid of people like Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Cecilia Alemani, Massimiliano Gioni” because of their constant status quo. For Oscar Murillo, they’re the representatives of the West, trying to get involved with the affairs of the rest of the world as part of the 500-year colonial history.

Oscar Murillo talks to French journalist and curator Judith Benhamou-Huet about his Passport stunt

The Rising Star of the Rebellion

Working with mixed-media painting, video and sculpture, Oscar Murillo often carries out performance pieces in order to contextualise his works. Born in Colombia and living in London, he often incorporates his versatile upbringing into his art, often using recycled materials and found objects. He rose to prominence in 2013, when all major auctions not only included his work, but also sold it for a total of $4.8 million. During that time, his canvases leapt from £20,000 to £254,000, more than successful for an up-and-coming artist. Often called “the 21st century Basquiat”, Oscar Murillo has been represented by David Zwirner since 2013. In 2014, he also participated in MoMA’s The Forever now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World and many other seminal group exhibitions.

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   Editors’ Tip: Oscar Murillo: Work

The Oscar Murillo: Work book is a volume dedicated to the artist’s first US solo exhibition, held at the Rubell Family Collection in Florida in 2013. Over the course of a five-week residency in the summer of 2012, Murillo took over a 60-foot space at the Rubell, as well as its sculpture garden, to create 32 works, including five massive paintings, all of which are reproduced here. These works were informed by Murillo’s exposure to Miami’s Latin culture, as well as a weekend visit to his native Colombia and the gigantic proportions of the exhibition space itself. Two of the largest works are abstract; three are inscribed with words evoking colonial and/or Western appropriation (“mango,” “chorizo” and “yoga”). Also included here is an interview with the artist.

Featured image: Oscar Murillo. Photo by Rebecca Reid via standard.co.uk. Used for illustrative purposes only.