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Colombian artist Oscar Murillo flushed his passport down an airplane toilet to protest Western privilege.

Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

ARTnews has the scoop on the incident, which happened on a Sydney-bound flight last month. Murillo, who is based in London and holds both Colombian and British passports, spontaneously decided to make a statement about privilege in the airplane’s bathroom a few hours before landing. According to ARTnews, Murillo was frustrated by “conservative attitudes” at the Sydney biennale and in response flushed “his British passport down the toilet, releasing it into the open skies and destroying it, purposefully ridding himself of the letters of transit that would help allow him safe passage into Australia.” 

Leaving aside the fact that airplane toilets don’t just release refuse into the sky to rain down upon those of us unlucky enough to live under the flightpath, Murillo still possesses a Colombian passport. However, Australian authorities detained Murillo for two days, after which he was deported to Singapore. He was able to use his Colombian passport to travel to Barcelona, Madrid, and finally Bogota, after which he was able to return to the U.K. 

At Art Basel Hong Kong last week (which he was still able to attend despite his self-made passport woes), Murillo expanded on his thoughts on privilege, saying, “The West is a salivating penis, you know, pretty much ready to penetrate the rest of the world, as it has been for 500 years or more.” Murillo has yet to explain how the privilege of having two functioning passports from different countries factors into his work.