The Axioms of Petroculture: Art and Political Transformation in the Second Age of Oil

Trevatt, Thomas. 2021. The Axioms of Petroculture: Art and Political Transformation in the Second Age of Oil. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis aims to tackle three interrelated questions; does the genre of contemporary art have a distinct logic to the extent that it can be described as being axiomatic? Do these axioms relate to the socio-political conditions of our era as they are understood to be shaped by the politics of the extraction, sale and burning of petroleum hydrocarbons, and the attendant externalities of this process? And, if these questions can be answered in the affirmative, what is the politically transformative potential for Contemporary Art? The thesis understands the tentacular reach of oil into culture through the political economy of extractive accumulation and how it is reliant on the huge value drawn from fossil fuel exploitation from the early 1970s to now, and the exhaustion of this commodity. It argues that, at an axiomatic level, Contemporary Art has been conditioned by, and conditions, current variants of Liberalism that emerged in the latter part of the twentieth century, and that these variants are underwritten by the oil industry. It does this through a reading of economic theory, art theory, critical race studies and their intersections with ecological thought. This approach differs from multiple other adjacent projects in that it attempts to synthesise a critique of the logics of contemporary art and questions of political transformation in relation to the growing literature on the oil industry and climate change, rather than seeking to point to artistic practices that deal with issues of the climate.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00029977

Keywords:

Contemporary Art, Petroculture, Ecology, Economics

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures

Date:

31 March 2021

Item ID:

29977

Date Deposited:

21 Apr 2021 13:02

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 12:26

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/29977

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