David Zwirner is pleased to present its first exhibition with Oscar Murillo, who joined the gallery in September 2013. The artist will implement a candy-making factory at 519 West 19th Street in New York in collaboration with Colombina, one of the premier food companies in Colombia.
Now a global industry leader and one of the main exporters of candy to the United States, Colombina was founded in Murillo’s hometown of La Paila in the early twentieth century. It gradually became the connecting link in the surrounding area, fostering a community that expanded symbiotically as the factory grew in stature. Several generations of Murillo’s family, including his parents, have worked there in various capacities, and the artist, who was born in 1986 and moved to the United Kingdom in the 1990s, retains close ties to the site.
Murillo frequently invokes his cultural heritage in his practice and broader issues of migration, sub-localities, and displacement inform many of his works. By turning the gallery into a fully operational production site, he opens up for considerations not merely about trade and globalization, but also about individual relationships and communities, roots and immigration. As such, the Colombina factory becomes a catalyst for a consideration of socio-economic conditions in the United States, Colombia, and beyond, while also inviting visitors to reflect on the nature of societies, both personal and universal.
Staffed by experienced candy-making employees going about their daily work as usual, the production line at the gallery will manufacture one of Colombina’s signature candies, the Chocmelos®, following the same recipe, ingredients, techniques, and quality control procedures as the facility in La Paila. Workplace signage and overall layout are further inspired by the factory, and Murillo has designed special packaging for the exhibition featuring the Colombina logo next to the iconic yellow smiley face seen on plastic shopping bags throughout New York City. Over the course of the exhibition, tens of thousands of candies will be produced and given away for free at the gallery. A special website, mercantilenovel.com, and complementary platforms on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) have been set up by the artist and gallery to track the project, shaping new communities in the process.