The Oil Show

12. November 2011 - 18. March 2012 Dortmunder U, Level 3
Opening: Friday, 11 November 2011, 19:00

We have reached Peak Oil – the maximum capacity of global crude oil extraction and production. After Peak Oil, the total global oil production cannot be increased. In the future, demand will always exceed supply. The global struggle for resources will intensify. Despite this our dependency on oil is growing further. We cannot, or do not seem to want to do without oil. We are seriously dependent.

The works in the exhibition deal with our dependency on oil and the economic, political, and social entanglements and consequences of this growing dependency.

The exhibition analyses the effects of globalisation by following the trail of the Baku-Tiflis-Ceyhan pipeline, a huge construction project begun in 2005 and completed in 2006 which leads the oil mined on the shores of the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea (Ursula Biemann). It comments on the planned construction of the Gazprom Tower in Saint Petersburg in a Brechtian singspiel (Chto Delat?) and investigates the financial structure of The World in Dubai, an artificial archipelago in the shape of a map of the world (Christian von Borries). It travels to the Niger Delta, into the “Heart of Darkness”, where a ‘fierce war for oil’ (Die Zeit) has been raging for nearly forty years (Mark Boulos, George Osodi), but also to the Japanese island of Hashima, the Egyptian oasis Al Qasr and the Texan town of Electra – places whose natural resources (coal, water, oil) have been depleted (Carl Michael von Hausswolff & Thomas Nordanstad). Werner Herzog in turn visits the battle ground of the first war that was solely fought for oil, documenting the burning oil wells in Kuwait set on fire by Iraqi troops who had occupied the country in August 1990.

Several artists in the exhibition make use of cartography. In "Petropol", for instance, the French Bureau d’Etudes charts the history of the global oil trade from the end of the Victorian age to the year 2002 via the First and Second World Wars. Their diagram resembles an absurd road map whose trails are traced by the geopolitical and economic interests of major countries and their oil companies. In "George W. Bush, Harken Energy, and Jackson Stephens, c.1979–1990", Mark Lombardi maps with mathematical precision the political and financial connections between various actors which are generally held to be antagonists (some having even declared war on each other), and by doing so reveals the nexus of global politics and terrorism.

Heath Bunting in turn makes a succinct intervention in everyday life by “updating” protest placards from 1989 still found on British motorways asking to ‘BAN MOTOR CARS’, next to which in 2003 he placed posters stating ‘GLOBAL WARMING IS YOUR FAULT’. The Californian Center for Land Use Interpretation explores invisible oil production sites in urban areas of Los Angeles, one of the oldest and still largest oil fields in the United States, and while doing so discovers unexpected camouflage techniques and oil rigs in unlikely neighbourhoods. Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s "...deeply__to the notion that the___world is___to the observer... (commited) (real) (external)" merges the artist’s personal memories of the first ‘Car-Free Sundays’ in the German Federal Republic in 1973/74, implemented in the wake of the Oil Crisis, with the political implications of this crisis and the simultaneous development of conceptual art practices. Michael Mandiberg’s "Oil Standard" consists of a plug-in for different web browsers which translates all US dollar prices on E-commerce websites into barrels of crude oil. A range of computer games in the exhibition – Oil Imperium (DE, 1989), Oligarchy (IT, 2008) and Oil Rush (RU, 2011) – provide players with the possibility to construct their own (albeit virtual) oil empires and learn a great deal about the oil business in the process. Last but not least artists are also launching an advertisement campaign for the rare resource (DOTOILDOT) and transforming the Dortmunder U, the former Union Brewery, into a gigantic oil refinery (UBERMORGEN).

With works by: Ursula Biemann (CH), Christian von Borries (DE), Mark Boulos (US), Heath Bunting (UK), Bureau d'Etudes (FR), The Centre for Land Use Interpretation (US), Chto Delat? (RU), Carl Michael von Hausswolff & Thomas Nordanstad (SE), Werner Herzog (DE), Mark Lombardi (US), Michael Mandiberg (US), George Osodi (NG), Natascha Sadr Haghighian (DE/IR), UBERMORGEN.COM (AT/CH), and others

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HMKV at the Dortmunder U
12 November 2011 — 18 March 2012
Opening: Friday, 11 November 2011, 19:00 —01:00 (free admission)

Curated by
Dr. Inke Arns, Artistic director of HMKV

Managing director
Frauke Hoffschulte, Tina Ebner

Exhibition production & organisation
Andrea Eichardt, Anabel Pérez, Kathleen Ansorg

Mirjam Laker

Simone Czech

Steffen Korthals, Nathalie Mosler

Technical director
Stephan Karass

Construction team
Sanja Biere, Jens Eberhardt, Kai Kickelbick, Zeljko Petonjic

Design Information display:, Dortmund

Wall paintings:
Sabine Gorski

Technical director Dortmunder U & Special Advisor
Uwe Gorski

Technical team Dortmunder U
Robin Lockhart, Oliver Okunik, Detlev Olschewski, Uli Lueg

Voluntary Social Year in Culture
David Groher, Malte Zander

Info Team
Stephanie Brysch, Tanja Melina Moszyk, Marion Wedegärtner

Guided tours
Peter Hübert, Martin Klemm, Hendrik Müller, Lena Schmidt

Hartware MedienKunstVerein at the
Dortmunder U, 3rd floor
44137 Dortmund

Opening hours
Tue+Wed 11:00 - 18:00
Thu+Fri 11:00 - 20:00
Sat+Sun 11:00 - 18:00
Closed on Monday

5 € / 3 €

Guided tours
Thursdays 18:00 (After-Work-Führung), Sundays 16:00
HMKV at the Dortmunder U, 3rd floor (included in the admission)
In case you would like to book further tours please contact our office (Tel: +49 (0)231.496642-0,

Film program
Each Friday at 20:00 in the exhibition
--> check out the program

Inke Arns, Fabian Saavedra-Lara

Patrick Boris Kremer (dt.-engl.), Janet Leyton-Grant (Filmprogramm dt.-engl.)

Design, Dortmund

On the occasion of the exhibition an exhibition guide and a catalogue with texts by Inke Arns, Fabian Saavedra-Lara and Michael Watts is published by Revolver Publishing | by VVV, Berlin 2011.

Funders and Partners

Partner 2011
Kunststiftung NRW: JUMP - Annual Sponsorship Award for Art Organisations of the Kunststiftung NRW 2011

Main funders of HMKV
Cultural Office of the City of Dortmund
Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports of North Rhine-Westphalia
Sparkasse Dortmund

The exhibition is generously supported by
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Pro Helvetia, Swiss Cultural Foundation

Media partners
ARTE Creative

You will find press material on this program item in our press area.