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The Exhibition

Since the mid-twentieth century at the latest, oil has been the key substance of modern societies. The exponentiated mobility on land, water, and in the air would be inconceivable without gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. The broad range of materials and products that characterize the modern way of life—from acrylic and asphalt to detergents and toothbrushes—is based on petroleum as a basic substance. The material intervenes massively in the ecosystems of our earth and now finds its way into every organism via derivatives such as artificial fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and microplastics. Nevertheless, the intimate connection of the fossil energy source with all practical areas and abstract basic principles of life is only gradually being discovered. For too long, economic and political turf wars have obscured the view of the true power of petroleum.

The exhibition OIL. Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age pursues the goal of presenting petroleum beyond entrenched positions and ideological front lines. Oil fuels not only machines, but also fantasies. Scientific and technical, as well as metaphysical and spiritual ideas and expectations are associated with this dazzling material—a black mirror of our times. OIL looks specifically at this intriguing and frightening mirror to gain greater insight into the manifold meanings of the material petroleum and, with a specially designed exhibition layout and installations developed specifically for the presentation, makes the many variations of this key substance sensorially tangible.


The Artists

Carla Accardi, Atelier van Lieshout (Joep van Lieshout), Claus Bergen, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ursula Biemann, Mark Boulos, Bureau d'Etudes, Edward Burtynsky, Gayle Chong Kwan, Tony Cragg, Mark Dion, Rena Effendi, William Eggleston, John Gerrard, Richard Gessner, Alba Giuppone, Jean-Luc Godard, Claus Goedicke, Tue Greenfort, Carl Grossberg, Monika Grzymala, Haus-Rucker-Co, Romuald Hazoumè, John Heartfield, Mishka Henner, Werner Herzog, Alfredo Jaar, Brian Jungen, Gustav Klucis, Tetsumi Kudo, El Lissitzky, Mark Lombardi, Rémy Markowitsch, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Steve McCurry, Josephine Meckseper, Kay Michalak, Richard Misrach, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, Maha Mustafa, Gabriel Orozco, Damian Ortega, George Osodi, Robert Rauschenberg, Alain Resnais, Oliver Ressler, Mika Rottenberg, Ed Ruscha, Tita Salina, Hasan Seyidbeyli, Robert Smithson, Thomas Struth, Vivan Sundaram, Tato (Guglielmo Sansoni), Sven Völker, Heinrich Vogeler, Wolf Vostell, Entang Wiharso, Richard Wilson et al.

Following Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. The Collection in the spring and summer of 2019, OIL. Beauty and Horror in the Petrol Age is the second feature exhibition of the anniversary program 25 Years Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg.

Curators: Ralf Beil (Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg), Alexander Klose (Berlin), and Benjamin Steininger (Vienna)