Oscar Murillo | Displaced Territories

BY Nada Bokhowa / Jan 23 2017 / 17:15 PM

YARAT Contemporary Art Space presents Dis Place, a solo exhibition by Oscar Murillo, which continues the artist’s engagement with communities affected by socio-economic upheavals

Oscar Murillo | Displaced Territories
Photography by Fakhriyya Mammadova
Installation view of Oscar Murillo's a futile mercantile disposition. 2016. Oil and dirt on canvas, copper wire, raw silk, graphite on wall, corn, clay and steel trolleys. Dimensions vary with installation. Commissioned by YARAT Contemporary Art Space.

Following Oscar Murillo’s Frequencies installation of canvases showcased at the Central Pavilion during the 56th Venice Biennale, entitled, All the World’s Futures in 2015 – the artist continues to explore structures of production, community and migration within geographic milieus.

Oscar Murillo. Fragments of now bastard territory. 1991–2016. Steamed pistachio wood and iron series. Each 346 x 289 x 5 cm. Commissioned by YARAT Contemporary Art Space. Photography by Fakhriyya Mammadova

Murillo’s exhibition, Dis Place at YARAT Contemporary Art Space in Baku, Azerbaijan presents a series of commissioned works which showcase the artist’s collaboration with a community of craftsmen in the town of Sheki in northern Azerbaijan. "As part of our programme," explains Dis Place's curator Suad Garayeva-Maleki, "The ideas is to really get the artist to do something within the local context." Once a thriving region for trade, Sheki was a key post on the ancient Silk Road and continued its renowned production of textiles until the Soviet era. What resonated with Murillo, was the post-Soviet privatisation of the Sheki Silk Factory, consequently disenfranchising the local community of workers. The entropy within Sheki’s community paralleled the socio-economic shifts within the sugar cane factory in which generations of Murillo’s family worked at in his hometown of La Paila, Colombia – leading to the displacement of communities which Murillo often addresses in his artistic practice.

Throughout Dis Place, a series of imposing black painted canvases entitled, a futile mercantile disposition are displayed across the floor and suspended from the ceiling – torn, stitched and manipulated with a mélange of dirt and clay. The installation appears to conjure the austere setting within the Sheki Silk Factory, which currently produces a fractional amount of its former textiles. Amidst the layers of black canvases, a video recording installation entitled, catalyst portrays a spin top rotating in what appears to be an endless sequence. Murillo’s video symbolically conjures the cycle of history repeating itself as socio-economic shifts continue to affect the livelihood of communities across the world – from Colombia to Azerbaijan.

Installation view of Oscar Murillo's catalyst. 2016. 6`40`` single channel video. Image courtesey of the artist and YARAT Contemporary Art Space.

Murillo’s black canvases and the repetitive spin of catalyst evoke a rather bleak setting. However, the intricacies of the copper mosaic grids entitled, fragments of now bastard territory manifested across the windows within the exhibition offer a sense of hope. The installation draws upon the stained-glass windows at Sheki’s historic Khan Palace. Murillo recreated the transparent glass design with local artisans from disposed pieces of metal from the Sheki Silk factory. “There is the idea of reviving that factory,” notes Garayeva-Maleki “giving the metal another chance of life.” Through the opaque mosaics, rays of lights shine through the borders – offering respite from the darkness of entropy caused from the cycle of socio-economic shifts displacing communities across geographic territories.

Oscar Murillo’s exhibition, Dis Place showcases at YARAT Contemporary Art Space until January 29, 2017