Two vast shimmering objects occupy the centre of the abandoned Schwarzkaue (black changing room) at the General Blumenthal Coal Mine, each revolving around itself. They appear to be machines from the future, as yet unused, or living extra-terrestrial creatures from a sci-fi film. However, these sculptures are large-scale reproductions of drill bits from the oil industry. Their iridescent lacquer is reminiscent of the colour spectrum of this black gold and that of pearls. Long before oil was discovered, pearl diving was the most valuable sector of Kuwait’s economy. However, crude oil has long since provided the economic foundations of the country in which the artist grew up – the commodity is ubiquitous, yet the technology and processes of its exploitation are barely visible to the public. By contrast in the Ruhr Area, where coal mining – like the oil industry in Kuwait – was the main pillar of the economy for a long time, the extraction of natural resources now belongs to the past and the machines that were once used to mine coal can now be seen in museums. Once the oil fields have been exhausted, this might also someday be their case as well.
Commissioned by Urbane Künste Ruhr (2020-21)