Oil—no other raw material pervades so many areas of our lives: our cities, our bodies, our emotions.
Airplanes, tanks, and spacecraft, motorways, shopping malls and suburban settlements, nylon stockings, mountains of plastic, and vinyl – key materials and technologies, lifestyles and visions of our time owe their existence to the energy density and transformability of oil.
Oil. Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age takes a speculative, poetic look back at the presence of the modern age of petroleum, which has lasted for roughly 100 years. From the distance of a hypothetical future, we ask what was typical of our time, what was great and beautiful, what was ugly and terrible, and how all this is reflected in art and culture.
Complex and diverse as never before, this publication offers a transdisciplinary glimpse into the global Petrol Age, exploring how it has inspired art and artists.
This ambivalent substance, with all of its complex scientific, technological, and cultural connections and contexts, is illuminated by around 250 international artistic positions from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day, as well as historical objects dating back to antiquity.
Including artists from around the world such as – Atelier Van Lieshout, Kader Attia, Lothar Baumgarten, Ursula Biemann, Tony Cragg, Walter De Maria, Mark Dion, Sokari Douglas Camp, William Eggleston, Sylvie Fleury, Tue Greenfort, Hans Haacke, Romuald Hazoumè, John Heartfield, Tetsumi Kudo, Oliver Ressler, Martha Rosler, Ed Ruscha, Santiago Sierra, Taryn Simon, Andreas Slominski, Robert Smithson, Thomas Struth, The Center for Land Use Interpretation, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Erwin Wurm.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (4 September 2021 – 9 January 2022).