CRUDE is a curatorial project that explores our complex relationship to crude oil and focuses on the sticky interplays of politics, culture and ecosystems through inviting new commissioned works from artists and writers; Alison Scott and Shane Strachan. The project situates oil as an agent of social, cultural and economic transformation to think ‘through’ and complicate our relationship to oil. The project began in October 2020 and will culminate in a final exhibition and event series in 2021 in Aberdeen, Scotland.
The geopolitics of oil have played a central role in international relations since the move from coal energy sources to oil, the title of this project is one reflected in historic exhibitions across particular geographies including the Middle east and North America. For the countries in which it is found it is often celebrated as a sign of modernity, security and the promise of transformation. North Sea Oil production transformed the economic, politics and social fabric of the UK and Scotland through the discovery in the 1970’s as a much needed source of energy security. Aberdeen was once the self-proclaimed ‘Oil Capital of Europe’, it has shaped the city’s historic pattern of development and its internationalism however this homogenous narrative has also had consequences. Oil's ability to dominate and social, economic and political life often hides the reality of it's development which in the context of the North East was not a wealth creator for all, it was uneven, precarious and at times violent towards already marginalised communities as industrial land clearances of homes made way for new oil infrastructure.
If oil is situated as an agent of social, cultural and economic transformation, what would it mean to think ‘through oil’. How do we confront the infrastructures surrounding this material? How do we come to terms with the systemic violence of the age of oil that relies on the logic of white supremacist – cis – neoliberal – colonial petro capitalism deployed globally in the names of development and energy security? How might these urgencies unfold in the context of an oil producing city?
For information on the practitioners work visit their websites: Alison Scott, Shane Strachan.
The project is supported by Creative Scotland, through the Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development Programme.