The Wolfsburg symposium TRUE OIL pursues the goal of interpreting petroleum beyond retracted positions and ideological front lines. Oil fuels not only machines, but also our 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. TRUE OIL looks specifically at this intriguing and frightening mirror, to gain greater insight into the manifold meanings of the material petroleum.

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Since the mid-twentieth century the latest, petroleum has been the key substance of modern society. The exponentiated mobility on land, water, and in the air would be inconceivable without gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. The broad range of substances 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 power of petroleum.

TRUE OIL PARADIGMS AND TENETS OF PETRO-MODERNISM

INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM

OCTOBER 25–27, 2018  ALVAR AALTO CULTURE HOUSE, WOLFSBURG

Organization: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg.

Concept: Alexander Klose and Benjamin Steininger (Beauty of Oil, Berlin/Vienna).

In cooperation with the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

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The conference language is English.

 

The symposium TRUE OIL is a kick-off event for the exhibition

OIL. BEAUTY AND HORROR IN THE PETROL AGE

 SEPTEMBER 29, 2019 – FEBRUARY 16, 2020 KUNSTMUSEUM WOLFSBURG

 MARCH 13, 2020 – JUNE 28, 2020 BELVEDERE 21, VIENNA

 Participation in the symposium is free of charge; the number of possible participants is, however, limited. We therefore kindly ask for a binding registration for the conference and excursion by October 12, 2018 at: trueoil@kunstmuseum-wolfsburg.de

 

THURSDAY OCTOBER 25, 2018: Keynote lecture and film ALVAR AALTO CULTURE HOUSE, LECTURE HALL 1  

7:00 pm Welcome Address: Ralf Beil (Director Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg)

7:10 pm Introduction: Alexander Klose, Benjamin Steininger (Beauty of Oil, Berlin/Vienna)

7:20 pm IT WILL NOT LET US GO: ON QUESTIONS OF OIL, PLASTIC, AND HAUNTING Keynote lecture by Heather Davis (The New School, New York)

8:30 pm PETROL – CARBURANT – FUEL Screening of the industry film, FRG 1965, Director: Hugo Niebeling, 14 min.

8:45– 10:00 pm Reception in the foyer of the Alvar Aalto Culture House

 

FRIDAY MORNING OCTOBER 26, 2018: ALVAR AALTO CULTURE HOUSE, LECTURE HALL 2

 9:00 am Welcome Address / Moderation: Alexander Klose

9:15 am OIL AND LANGUAGE, DISTILLATIONS AND TRANSMUTATIONS Karen Pinkus (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York)

10:00 am PLASTIC SPIRITUALITY. THE SHIFT FROM IDEAS TO DESIGN Ursula Baatz (Vienna)

10:45 am Coffee Break

11:15 am A THEATER OF THE WOUNDED EARTH Oxana Timofeeva (European University at St. Petersburg)

FRIDAY AFTERNOON OCTOBER 26, 2018: TRUE OIL EXCURSION TO WIETZE AND CELLE

12:30 pm Bus departs from the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg / Lunchbox in the bus

1:00 pm DISEMBARKING PETROCULTURE: FROM DRIVING TO DRIFTING Lecture-performance in the bus by Bronislaw Szerszynski (Lancaster University)

2:00–3:30 pm LOCAL OIL PAST The Petrol Museum Wietze, guided tour through Germany’s “Little Texas”

4:30–6:00 pm GLOBAL OIL PRESENT The petroleum service company Baker Hughes, Celle; guided tour through the “Houston” of Lower Saxony

6:00–7:30 pm Return to Wolfsburg

 

SATURDAY OCTOBER 27, 2018: ALVAR AALTO CULTURE HOUSE, LECTURE HALL 2

09:30 am Welcome Address / Moderation: Benjamin Steininger

09:45 am “YOU DRANK HIM???” BEING GOOD AFTER THE LAST OF THE GOOD STUFF Sofia Ahlberg (Uppsala Universitet)

10:30 am BLOBJECTIVITY: A NEGARESTANI REMIX ON TRUE OIL Dominic Boyer (Rice University, Houston, Texas)

11:15 am Coffee Break

11:45 am FROM PETROL AGE TO DIGITAL AGE Claus Pias (Leuphana University of Lüneburg)

12:30 pm Lunch

1.30 pm A PETROCHEMICAL SOCIETY? Andrew Barry (University College London)

2:00–3:00 pm Closing Discussion

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Further information about the lectures and speakers can be found here:

ABSTRACTS AND BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES