Brian Jungen, Dragonfly, 2008, Carved gallon gasoline jug. Courtesy Reesa Greenberg Toronto.

Beneath a Petroliferous Moon


Beneath a Petroliferous Moon
September 28, 2012 to January 6, 2013

Opening Reception: Friday, September 28 at 8 p.m.
Talk/Tour: Saturday, September 29 at 1 p.m., with artists Ernst Logar, Robyn Moody, and David LaRiviere, and curator Jen Budney

Video Screening: Land of Oil and Water, a 45-minute documentary about Alberta oil sands companies expanding into northern Saskatchewan. Co-director Neil McArthur of the University of Manitoba will attend.

Petroleum, in its extraction, distribution, utility, economics, and social, political, and environmental impacts, defines our contemporary world. Yet, in the developed countries that consume it most, it remains a strangely invisible substance, evident primarily at the clean and bright gas stations dotting our city streets and highways. In his fascinating account of international petroleum industry operations, Crude World, journalist Peter Maass argues that in North America oil is invisible most of the time, but “like gravity, it influences everything we do.”


Beneath a Petroliferous Moon is a survey of artistic responses to the petroleum industry by 11 artists living and working around the world. The exhibition brings visibility to an array of aspects of this most important commodity, which in Canada is typically “extracted, refined, shipped, and poured into your gas tank with few people seeing it.” (Maass) While some artists focus on petroleum’s environmental impacts, others choose to respond to its social significance, its modern history, or the awe-inspiring visuals of the industry’s infrastructure and detritus. The title of the exhibition is taken from a 1940 poem by Pablo Neruda, “Standard Oil Co.,” which describes effects of the oil industry in Central America.

Works in the exhibition include: masks fashioned from jerry cans and found objects by the Yoruba artist Romuald Hazoumè, of Benin; kinetic sculpture based upon the tar sands of northern Alberta by Calgary artist Robyn Moody; lace-like sculptures made from oil drums by New York-based Canadian artist Cal Lane; photographs, drawings, and videos made in Arctic Canada by Vermont artist and farmer Louisa Conrad; documents and drawings by Austrian artist Ernst Logar, made in the Scottish oil town of Aberdeen; a delicately carved jerry can by Vancouver’s Brian Jungen; a video set in North America’s first oil town, Oil City, Pennsylvania, by Ohio artist Robert Ladislas Derr; a large sculpture based on oil drums and advertising by Cherokee artist Jimmie Durham (Rome/Berlin); photographs of the Alberta tar sands by renowned Toronto photographer Edward Burtynsky; drawings and sculpture inspired by the Exxon Valdez disaster by expat Canadian artist Susan Turcot (UK); and a billboard by Saskatoon artist David LaRiviere. On the afternoon following the exhibition opening, there is a special screening of Metis writer Warren Cariou’s documentary film, Land of Oil and Water, which is set in Cariou’s hometown of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan.

David LaRiviere’s billboard project can be viewed at Idylwyld Drive North, near 24th Street West in Saskatoon.

The exhibition is curated by Associate Curator Jen Budney.