Monira Al Qadiri, OR-BIT 1, 2016, 3-D-printed plastic, automotive paint, levitation module, 11 3⁄4 × 7 7⁄8 × 7 7⁄8". From “Crude.”


Jameel Arts Centre

“Oil creates the illusion of a completely changed life, life without work, life for free,” the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński observed in his 1985 book Shah of Shahs. “The concept of oil expresses perfectly the eternal human dream of wealth achieved through lucky accident, through the kiss of fortune and not by sweat, anguish, hard work. In this sense oil is a fairytale, and like every fairytale, a bit of a lie.” Curator Murtaza Vali probed these false promises with “Crude,” a group show that sought to elucidate petroleum’s role in driving post–World War II political shifts in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, and North Africa. Corralling works by seventeen artists and collectives alongside a wide array of academic research, “Crude” engaged a variety of complex issues surrounding oil, particularly as it has figured in the Gulf: its ubiquity, its ability to resist representation,

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