Slick Images: The Photogenic Politics of Oil

Allegory of the Cave Painting. Co-editors Mihnea Mirca & Vincent WJ van Gerven Oei. Extra City, Antwerp.
Published by Mousse Milan,  2015.

Contributions by Haseeb Ahmed, Ignacio Chapela, Justin Clemens, Georges Didi-Huberman, Jonathan Dronsfield, Christopher Fynsk, Adam Staley Groves, Sean Gurd, Adam Jasper, Susanne Kriemann, Landings (Vivian Ziherl en Natasha Ginwala), Brenda Machosky, Alexander Nagel, Rosalind Nashashibi, Tom Nicholson, Jack Pettigrew, Raphaël Pirenne, Susan Schuppli, Lucy Steeds, Jonas Tinius, Marina Vishmidt, Christopher Witmore and Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll.

Book launch March 18 2015

In the late evening of April 20, 2010, an explosion ripped through the British Petroleum (BP) leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig, discharging a compressed stream of micro-image making particles into the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. As these chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms were released from their subterranean containment 4 kilometers beneath the sea floor into the liquidity of the Gulf, their natural photonic properties began to interact with the unstable and energetic surface molecules of the water, recombining to produce an iridescent image of horror. Transfixed by the televisual coverage of a crude oil chimera whose tentacles grew daily in reach as it moved ever closer to the shores of the Mississippi River Delta, we watched as biological systems were ensnared and devoured by this creeping hydrocarbon hazard. By June 2010 the oil slick had reached the barrier islands of Alabama and the western Panhandle of Florida. Out of this refractive and monstrous shimmer a new breed of hybrids was being birthed as oil transformed living organisms into an abject surface of technogenic sludge. Birds and wildlife becoming co-extensive with the “black lagoon” that had spawned them and that would soon reclaim their brood. By the time the leaking exploratory well was finally capped on July 15, 2010, it had spewed an estimated 4.1 million barrels of crude into the Gulf, permanently damaging its marine biology, destroying coastal wildlife, polluting habitats, and shutting down the fishing communities reliant upon the ecological bounty of the Gulf.

The ‘Allegory of the Cave Painting’ reader, published by Mousse Milan