I remember being in La Paila, Colombia, aged 10 years old, and my dad saying he wanted to travel to the UK. I am looking at this map of the world, and find this tiny little island, which looks to me like it’s in the middle of nowhere. Six months later we find ourselves there, my family totally uprooted, and Cardinal Pole school became this family... – Oscar Murillo
Turner-prize-winning artist Oscar Murillo returned to his secondary school in Hackney, London to present a deep dive into his immense Frequencies project.
Frequencies began in 2013 in a few schools in Colombia. Over the course of a term, students aged 10–16 marked blank canvases fixed to their desks with doodles and drawings, names of friends, sports teams and celebrities, hearts, logos and skulls. The impetus for Frequencies came in part from a chance encounter when Murillo visited his own former school as an adult, and noticed the densely graffitied wooden desks. These objects sparked memories of adolescence and the desire to break free from the normative environment of education and find a release in drawing and mark-making. Identifying with the students, Murillo approached the project as a collaboration between himself and the many participants.
Since this first experiment, Murillo, together with political scientist Clara Dublanc, has taken the project to 350 schools in over 30 countries. Frequencies comprised a global archive of conscious and unconscious energies created in collaboration with students and recorded on over 40,000 individual canvases.
For the first ever presentation of the entire Frequencies archive, Murillo and the Frequencies Foundation took over the school's sports hall to create a huge installation of canvases in stacks, on tables, and on screens.
Other unique features of the exhibition included selected displays by sixth formers and invited guests, new works by Murillo called Disrupted Frequencies, a large video wall showing close-ups of the canvases, and weekend workshops for youths and families. In the centre of the sports hall, Murillo designed an open area called the ‘Agora’ where visitors took a closer look through the stacks of canvases, meet, talk and attend events and interactive education workshops.
Image: Oscar Murillo, Frequencies (Amilieh School, Beirut, Lebanon), 2013–ongoing. Courtesy the artist.
In this series of paintings, Disrupted Frequencies, Murillo has repurposed canvases from the archive and added his own marks to them. Stitching together pieces of canvas – a technique characteristic of Murillo’s practice – the artist has worked directly onto a patchworked surface with oil bars in varying shades of blue. The works recall Murillo’s surge series, which also features dense fields of blue in wave-like formations, flooding the paintings’ planes, with an effect that Murillo has likened to the ‘obliteration’ force of water.
These new works, as their title suggests, are an intentional disruption of the organising impulse of the archive. Pulling canvases from different countries together, Murillo consciously creates friction with the idea of the archive. Each individual painting’s title contains the names of the countries its component canvases originate from, deliberately creating tension through the splicing together of objects from different geographical and social contexts. Further intensity is added through layers of blue paint, which both erase and reveal the original mark-making. Recalling both the ocean and the air, they come to symbolise geo-political connections and disconnections.
Image: detail from Oscar Murillo, Disrupted Frequencies (Colombia, Brazil, Turkey, China), 2013–2019. Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner and Aspen Art Museum. Photograph: Tony Prikryl
Each week, a new perspective on Frequencies was offered by a special guest whose selection of 57 canvases was displayed on tables within the overall exhibition.
Find the list of guest selectors, who they are and when their selections were on display.
Andria Zafirakou, Teacher and winner of the 2018 Global Teacher Prize.
Zafirakou has been a teacher at Alperton Community School in Brent, London for over 14 years. She received $1 million when she won the title of the best teacher in the world by the Varkey Foundation. Born in north-west London to Greek-Cypriot parents and state-educated in Brent and Camden, she started her teaching career as an art and textiles teacher and is currently Associate Deputy Headteacher.
Cardinal Pole Catholic School Students
Diana Ndukwu, Noelia Torres, Nachoy Cunningham, Choco Conteh, Elizabeth Lokola, Modu Jasseh, Mariama Konate, T’Keyah Mendes, and Plamedy Efekele selected the canvases this week and also worked on a film crew documenting the exhibition headed up by Joel Claude.
Melika Ngombe Kolongo aka Nkisi, Musician.
Nkisi produces intense, powerful sonics equally influenced by Ancient African rhythms, hardcore techno, and Italian horror soundtracks. The London-based musician and visual artist is one of the co-founders of NON Worldwide, a collective of experimental artists from and across the African diaspora.
Jazmin Morris, Creative Computing Artist and Educator.
Morris is a Creative Computing Artist and Educator based in London. Her personal practice and research explore representation and inclusivity within technology. She uses free and open-source tools to create digital experiences that highlight issues surrounding gender, race and power; focusing on the complexities within simulating culture and identity.
Adam Phillips, Writer and Psychotherapist.
Phillips has a particular interest in working with children and was principal child psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital, London between 1990–97. Since 2003 he has been general editor of the New Penguin Modern Classics translations of the works by Sigmund Freud. Describing psychoanalysis as “a kind of practical poetry” his recent publications include Attention Seeking (2019), Unforbidden Pleasures (2015) and Missing out: In Praise of the Unlived Life (2012).
Image: Visitors at Oscar Murillo's Frequencies, at Cardinal Pole Catholic School, London. Photograph: Zeinab Batchelor.
A series of creative, interactive and participatory workshops exploring the work of artist Oscar Murillo, were held on the weekends during the Frequencies exhibition.
All workshops were co-created and co-delivered by the students of Cardinal Pole Catholic School.
The workshops were in the ‘Agora’ at the centre of the exhibition.
If you were unable to attend the workshops for whichever reason, you can still creatively and interactively engage with Frequencies and its themes by downloading our educational online toolkit.
Image: Work produced by families during a workshop at Oscar Murillo's Frequencies exhibition in Cardinal Pole Catholic School, London. Photograph: Zeinab Batchelor
Born in La Paila, Colombia in 1986, Oscar Murillo moved with his parents to London when he was 10 years old. He studied at Cardinal Pole Catholic School in Hackney between the ages of 11 and 18, before going to art school. His main studio is based in north-east London. Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, he has been closely involved in humanitarian work in Colombia.
Over the past decade, Murillo has become known for a practice that encompasses paintings, works on paper, sculptures, installations, actions, live events, collaborative projects, and videos. Taken as a whole, his work emphasises the many ways in which ideas, visual languages and everyday items are in a state of flux: displaced, in circulation, and intermingling.
Recent one-person exhibitions include ‘Horizontal Darkness in Search of Solidarity’ at Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany, 2019–2020, ‘Oscar Murillo’, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, 2017–2018, and at CAPC (Centre for Contemporary Visual Arts), Bordeaux, 2017. Murillo shared the 2019 Turner Prize alongside Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Tai Shani.
Image: Oscar Murillo in front of his artwork, September 2020. Courtesy the Artist and David Zwirner. Photograph: Julian Valderrama
Enhance your visit to Frequencies when you download and use our free interactive mobile guide, now live on the Bloomberg Connects app.
Our digital guide has been designed for you to connect with and explore Artangel directly through your smartphone or smart device. Live and bespoke features including our interactive map, a list of all the countries and schools involved in the project, as well as other unique features in the exhibition. Your digital guide allows you to satisfy your curiosity and accompanies your live experience ahead of, during, or after your visit.
Download the Bloomberg Connects app today to:
The Bloomberg Connects digital guide is part of a wider digital engagement programme at Artangel, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, to enhance digital access for all of our live projects – designed to guide you through each unique space with maps, easy to read interpretive text, and exclusive content. Your live companion can be used offsite or onsite as a hands-free audio or visual guide.
Fascinating... surely one of the most unusual shows of the summer. – Chris Harvey, The Telegraph
At intervals along the shelving stacks are big paintings by Murillo himself: strong, beautiful, blue abstractions daubed on top of schoolkids' doodles. The art he has made out of his encounter with global teenagedom is bold and confident, and of course highly skilled. – Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, 26 July 2021
The exhibition includes a new series of paintings by Murillo titled Disrupted Frequencies, featuring multiple Frequencies canvases stitched together. What makes these canvases staggering is the mixture of the conscious and unconscious energy of young minds. – Balasz Takac, Widewalls, 26 July 2021
National characteristics emerge: pop culture infuses the canvases from Japan; Murillo identifies an anarchic energy in those from Chile and Argentina. Yet the Chinese canvases are perhaps the most distinctive. – Chris Harvey, The Telegraph, 25 July 2021
The canvases feature universally recognised names (Beyoncé, Ronaldo, One Direction) and images (hearts, rainbows, skulls) alongside local cultural references – the result of a project that is both a local and global endeavour. – Mark Westall, FAD Magazine, 23 July 2021
The inner lives, interests and obsessions of more than 100,000 school children from around the world have been gathered by the Turner prize winner Oscar Murillo and put on display at his old school. – Mark Brown, The Guardian, 23 July 2021
At Artangel, we are keen to find out what our audiences think of our work and in turn learn what we can do to adapt the experience, format and subject matter of future projects – ensuring our continued relevancy for the communities we serve. Your honest feedback is invaluable to us as an organisation.
This short survey should take you just over 5 minutes to complete.
To thank you for your time, you will see a prompt at the end of the survey where you can select to be entered into a prize draw for a £50 M&S voucher. The winner will be selected on 8 November 2021.
Image: A detail of Oscar Murillo's Frequencies, 2013-ongoing (Padova, Italy, 2014-15). Courtesy of Oscar Murillo and Frequencies Foundation.
Who made this possible?
Commissioned and produced by Artangel in collaboration with Frequencies Foundation.
With thanks to Cardinal Pole Catholic School.
Generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Supported by the Ampersand Foundation, The London Community Foundation, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, and Special Angels for Frequencies: Catherine Petitgas, Danny and Manizeh Rimer, and David Zwirner.
Artangel is generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of Artangel International Circle, Special Angels, Guardian Angels and The Company of Angels.