20th Biennale of Sydney artist Oscar Murillo brings us the next post in Not Evenly Distributed blog series, titled UN-mapping Territory.
Recently the mundanity of global air travel has come to fascinate me. Websites such as Plane Finder, at their base level, track the minutiae of global travel. Geographical location, speed, altitude – all of these details are meticulously recorded and displayed in real time. But the amalgamation of these journeys becomes a marker for historical and contemporary issues. Some of these are obvious to see. Europe, North America and Asia – the centres of the world’s trade and tourism –are hidden behind thousands of plane icons, slowly swarming over these continents like flies on a carcass. Other areas are more visible; besides the extreme North and South, Africa has few flight paths over it. Others take a more discerning eye to pick out. As old trade routes falter, others emerge. There are now direct flights from the United Kingdom to Colombia – something unimaginable a decade ago. Recently, BA flights from London to Baku have ceased, an almost definite result of the recent drop in world oil prices that has similarly slashed the value of the Manat.
Travel has always been central to my practice – for both practical and ideological reasons. Early paintings, although they emerged from a devoted and particular studio practice, are also bound up within issues of migration and globalisation. ‘Yoga’, ‘coconut water’, ‘chorizo’ – these words have morphed in meaning from one geographical context to another. These cultural tropes become products and symbols of lifestyle as they move overseas. In many ways, these words have taken their own journeys, and so the paintings become liminal spaces, in-between one state and the other, in which to contemplate these changes.
[Image: Oscar Murillo, Dinner at the members club? Yes! i’ll have a black americano first pls, 2013. Installation view (2013) at Carlos/Ishikawa, London]