The Oil Camp, 2006

Hassan Meer
The Oil Camp, 2006
video installation & documentary images


Art, for me, constitutes the language through which I discover the state of the human being and the contradictions he/she lives through in the shadow of the cultural conflicts between civilisations, and relating these to symbolic elements and concepts amongst these civilisations. Due to the severe conflicts in which our societies live, I realised the value of researching for and experimenting with new tools better describing our contemporary issues, utilising conceptual dissemination or conceptual art. I achieve this through the means of video art, based on delivering the idea in a clearer form than that of traditional means of expression. I then develop the experiment relying on roots rather than experimenting in a void.

Accordingly, my experimentation in recent years has been directed towards this unique mixing of the personal and the public, that is, the mixing of the personal and the public memory.

My works are to do with the contemplation of and research into the spiritual aspect and magic traditions of the deeply rooted heritage in our societies related to the convictions and mythologies of the East. This is a result of my marvelling at death and human extinction, as well as at some local rituals. I sometimes record the changes of pattern in social and political life and in human behaviour in the area, as well as the alienation in the city due to oil wealth and the oil-masters.

We cannot deny the role of the new wealth in changing the face of the area economically; however, we often find in our cities the “city within a city” model, where the inhabitants do not interact with their neighbours. For one reason or another, they have different lifestyles but they share environmental challenges resulting from oil production and refinement, breathing in the unhealthy air and within constant proximity of the burning flames. It is possible that the local refinery represents a strong challenge for local people to coexist with the environmental dangers resulting from pollution and toxicity; however, the people are unable to change or move the petroleum encampment.

This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 8.