In a time when the word oil has been replaced by collective terms such as energy and where the future of the oil sector is up for debate, this exhibition is rooted in the here and now and tackles the possible trauma that the extraction of fossil fuels has created for society as a whole and for the individual.

Oil and other fossil fuels set the premises for today’s society. They make speed of communication and transportation of people and goods possible. Oil is present everywhere in our material surroundings, not only in our furniture and clothes, but also in the food we eat and the pharmaceutical products we need. Oil is in close physical proximity, and it shapes both individual experiences and our identities.

The effect of oil on the individual is possibly most noticeable here on the west coast of Norway, where the oil sector’s concentration creates direct experiences for employees in oil and related industries. However, oil also creates life experiences for everyone in Norway. These are experiences that we might have in common with people in other parts of the world, who also live off and with oil. This exhibition aims to create a new, imagined community of different oil societies and explore the feeling of connection that results from this.

The exhibition displays artworks by Norwegian and international artists that treat experiences of living close to oil and its ripple effects on society in different ways. The artworks explore the social, cultural, and emotional aspects of oil and its economic and political framework in poetic, humorous, critical, and activist ways.

Through these works, the exhibition examines the invisibility of oil, its language, representations and visual culture, but also themes such as identity, nationality, power structures, and the perspectives of indigenous peoples. The aim of the exhibition is to contribute to the conversation about the experiences that oil has created in society and for individuals—both in Norway and globally. By creating an exchange and looking at the similarities between different oil producing societies, we might be able to challenge the ideas we have about our own country and its role in an urgent, global situation.

The exhibition displays works by fifteen artists and art collectives. Four of the works will be shown in the public sphere over the course of the exhibition period.

Participating artists: Liv Bugge, Christopher Cozier, Ane Graff, Linda Lamignan with David Lamignan Larsen, Alessandro Marchi, Otobong Nkanga, Camille Norment in collaboration with Lisa Harris and Sarah Prosser, Rachel O’Reilly, Monira Al Qadiri, Farah Al Qasimi, Raqs Media Collective, Øyvind Rimbereid, Shirin Sabahi, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chai Siris, Brynhild Grødeland Winther, Kiyoshi Yamamoto.

The exhibition is supported by Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen, the Fritt Ord Foundation, Arts Council Norway, the City of Stavanger and the Goethe-Institut. Experiences of Oil in the City is supported by KORO.