The elaborate online networks of the internet era have done alot in revealing the relationships, cause-and-effect and cycles of most processes. With THE OIL WE EAT exhibition at Amsterdam’s Martin van Zomeren, running September 6 to October 4, Anne de Vries explores just how interconnected these processes are.
In a solo show that not only juxtaposes but envelopes and embeds the chemical fluid-filled acrylic pipes of a gas station chain in a block of natural earth in ‘At Aral GmbH’ (2014), or cuts through a view from a plane with fragments of a keyboard in ‘Interface – EasyJet’ (2014) consumer and consumed are inextricably linked. It takes its title from Richard Manning’s ‘The oil we eat: Following the food chain back to Iraq’ and draws from 17th-century German philosopher and mathematician Liebniz’s challenge to materialism whereby – according to THE OIL WE EAT press release – “if we would enlarge our brain and imagine ourselves walking through it and looking around, we would only see processes, electrochemical material events, but we would never find the actual thoughts, hopes, fears, desires or pains.”
These “hopes fears, desires or pains” become the main drivers of “the life cycles of commodities” which the exhibition identifies as “‘nature’, ‘commodity’ and ‘waste'”. It’s a selection of organic matter, interspersed with their synthesised and simulated outcomes in a production chain that runs from soil and beach sand to Vinaigre aux herbes and Aperol Spritz, antifrost and digital printing.
In describing THE OIL WE EAT as “a chemical cocktail made with quotidian ingredients” and drawing on the idea of energy – from the brainpower it takes to form an idea to the fuel required to manufacture cleaning products – as a limited resource of which we as human’s have taken too much. **
Exhibition photos, top-right.