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Petroleum, by Max Couper.
The Spinal Column of the C20th.
One man installation at Unit 7 Gallery, London, 1989.
Part of the Couper Collection.
Audio-visual installation. Halogen lit 4 ton caterpillar track, and mixed media.
300 X 1350 X 1350cm (9ft 10in X 44ft X 44ft)

"The artist was living on his barge on the Thames. The moorings are shallow, to the point that, at low tide the boats rest on the river bed. At specific time of the day, a large oil company's tankers swept up from the estuary at excessive speeds. The swell produced at such velocity by 500 tons of aviation fuel in motion is tremendous, and in passing raises the level of the river in a matter of seconds. The drop that follows, smashes the barges onto the river bed, causing to hulls to twist and cables to snap. The result was a long drawn-out battle against the multinational oil company. Eventually, common sense saw through, and the tankers returned to crawling pace.

The incidents motivated the artist's interest in petroleum and the power of global corporations, and in particular how they relate to the individual. The installation is a personal statement on petroleum, our most important raw material."

Unit 7 Gallery, 1989

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