Beatrice: Transition Under Petrocapitalism


Sat, 17 June 2023 - Sat, 30 September 2023


Timespan - Dunrobin St, Helmsdale KW8 6JA

Further info

Cost: Free

Beatrice: Transition Under Petrocapitalism

Type: Exhibition

Tanja Engelbers, Stills from DECOM, video, 2021. Credits Tanja Engelbert

Timespan opens its new group exhibition Beatrice: Transition Under Petrocapitalism featuring the works of Tanja Engelberts, Oliver Ressler, and Sue Jane Taylor.

The exhibition draws its title from the oil field Beatrice, located less than 20 miles off the coast of Helmsdale, recently decommissioned and converted in 2018 into Scotland’s largest operational offshore wind farm. With the addition of wind turbines, Beatrice is a mutable emotional architecture that can embody the challenges related to energy transition, including the crucial question of whether an economy deeply rooted in petro-capitalism can effectively shift towards renewables.

Through documentation, diaries, research works, moving images, drawings and paintings, the artists involved investigate the ecological, social, and economic implications of the change of the oil industry.

The exhibition includes a section dedicated to the institutional history of Timespan, examining how BritOil played a fundamental role in Timespan’s foundation in 1976. This section sheds light on the industry’s control over the narrative surrounding fossil fuels through support for culture.

Through photographs, videos, and diaries Tanja Engelberts (The Netherlands, 1987), reflects on affective entanglement towards the post industrial landscape left by the oil and gas industry. Her video Decom (2021) is shot in one of the few European decommissioning yards where oil and gas platforms “come to die”, questioning their fate, from the disposal of materials to their future. The artist presents the publication Forgotten Seas (2023), a photographic exploration of her archive produced over six years of research across the North Sea.

In Carbon and Captivity (2020), Oliver Ressler (Austria, 1970) delves into ‘carbon capture and storage’ (also known as CCS), a procedure—or better a technofix—that promises to trap carbon dioxide emissions from the oil refinery process.Shot in the Technology Centre Mongstad in Norway Ressler’s video documentary  reveals how misleading promises of this technology are delaying necessary decarbonisation and deepening our dependence on fossil fuels.

Over the course of thirty years, Sue Jane Taylor has created a visual record of the rise and fall of oil and gas production in the North Sea, from the Scottish oil boom to its decommissioning programme, and the transition towards renewable energy and wind farms. In the exhibition Taylor presents a series of drawings and paintings spanning from 2006 to present day, portraying the humans, tools, machineries commodified by the corporations, validating their presence, voices and existence. Taylor also presents the video Beatrice Voices from across the Moray Firth (2018). Shot three months before Beatrice’s decommissioning, the video documents the working life within the North Sea oil and gas industry.

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