After 86 days, oil from the damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico finally stopped flowing. I witnessed the emotional and financial damage it caused my family in the Florida Panhandle, and I wanted to understand this accident in the larger context of oil exploration. I researched major global oil spills since 1967 and was not surprised to find that humans have spilled billions of gallons of oil into rivers, lakes and oceans.
On each opposite page, a quote from Karl Marx reads, “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” A tangled mass of colored tags list dates and locations of the worst oil spills in recent history. The poem’s large text is embellished, sometimes even obscured by printed images of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Each page is unique despite the repetition of the poem. In a way, the history of oil spills is similar; each accident varies in location, impact and circumstance, but they blur together to seem like the same mistake repeated over and over again. This repetition prevents us from seeing the magnitude of each tragedy over time and encourages us to accept them as an insurmountable disasters that cannot be reversed or avoided.
The Oil Book was started in July 2010 and completed in January 2011. It was created with acrylic ink, Sumi-e ink, gouache, iridescent powder, letterpress, screen printing, carborundum printing, linoleum printing and xerox transfer on price tags, Arches cover paper, rice paper, Rives lightweight paper and binder’s board. It was bound with waxed thread and using a multi-needle coptic stitch binding.