A protest banner included in an installation by Oscar Murillo was removed from the artwork by a museum guard, the Spanish daily El-Pais reports. The installation is featured in a solo show by the young Colombian art star which inaugurates the newly-built cultural center Centro Cultural Daoiz y Velarde in Madrid.
The center’s construction took some 7 years to complete and rang up a €13 million bill that didn’t go down well with many in the Spanish capital, especially in light of the government-imposed austerity measures and spending cuts. According to El Pais, a group of protesters spontaneously formed outside the freshly inaugurated art center the day of the opening, carrying banners and signs bearing slogans such as “€13 million, 7 years—cultural center or electoral propaganda?”
Murillo, who had no prior knowledge of the controversy surrounding the building’s construction, was surprised by the protesters. He decided to grab the aforementioned banner and hang it in an installation titled De marcha, ¿una rumba? No, sólo un desfile con ética y estética which stands prominently in the middle of the exhibition (the title is a pun on the word “Marcha,” which could mean both “a demonstration” and “to party” in Spanish, and translates roughly to: “Partying, do a rumba? No, just a parade with ethics and aesthetics”). “This is a work in motion,” the artist told El Pais. “What I do depends on the things happening around me.”
But, when Murillo returned to view his installation, he noticed the banner had been removed, and was neatly folded at the side, waiting to be carried off. Murillo asked the guards to re-hang the sign, protesting himself this time: “I am the artist and this banner is part of the work.”
The manager refused at first, claiming that the banner had “nothing to do with the exhibition.” But finally, somewhat puzzled, agreed to rehang it.
Colombia is this year’s guest country at ARCO Madrid, which will be open to the public from February 25 to March 1. Many galleries around the city are thus hosting exhibitions by Colombian artists, established and emerging.
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