Oil – Beauty and horror of the petroleum era

Christina/ October 3, 2021/ Culture, Ideas of philosophy

The oilfly, domiciled in California, is the only creature that is able to live in oil and have a dump in there. An outsize picture of this insect marks the end of the exhibition “Oil. Beauty and horror of the petroleum age” which is actually shown at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. The show can be visited until January 9th, 2022. This wednesday I visited the exposition within the offer “Art4All” together with a corresponding conducted tour. My conclusion: An interesting show where both the structure of the exhibition and the objects are not self-explanatory. Therefore it makes sense to carry the accompanying booklet with oneself.

Manneken Pis in oil
The guided tour start with a prologue and an installation which reminds me of Manneken Pis but made of oil. The piece of art is really impressive. Made of oil cans from different brands the oil beam does not seem to fall down but up. This is an optical illusion of course but it looks amazingly real.

Through the cabinett of ambivalence we move to the “oil level” the second awesome sample. The oil level is that chewy and smooth that everything reflects in it. Instantly I have to think of overturned freighters which leave an oil film behind that destroys everything, despite the oil fly.

Boone and bane
Boone and bane, achievements and destruction, quickly it become apparent what kind of progress the black gold in particular brought to the Western world. Technical progress through oil that was extracted somewhere else, basically in the so called Third World countries. The social development therefore took often place with us and not locally, where either American, british oil companies or dictatorial ruler put the money into their pockets. Critical works of Nigerian, Indonesian and Venezuelan artists make this clear.

But also in the West all that glitters is not gold. The zone “Homo Plasticus” illustrates the shady sites pretty well. For example on the basis of a piece of art made of plastic which was collected by the artists at the bank of the river Rhein at Düsseldorf.

Cartographical material
The cartographical material labbeld “mapping” is also quite interesting. Here it is explained in an either scientific or propagandistic way where oil was extracted or being used. As “acts of pioneering for socialism” the achievements are being entitled. That might sound rediculous by now but were we not all proud of the products which quickend our progress with the help of oil? I am surprised to learn how much oil is or was being extracted within Lower Saxony only.

And then at the exit of the exhibition we face the larger-than-life presentation of the oil fly. The insect that will also survive the petroleum age that is running low.

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