The title Substances refers to physical matter and here especially to the states where matter has undergone a kind of death, and has been destroyed. In the museum space is a ‘greenhouse’. Inside the greenhouse there is polluted soil and dust, which I collected from the oil fields of the Absheron peninsula* and physically placed in the space. The faint smell of the soil fills the greenhouse. The air almost feels moist on the skin. The physical traces of death provide a multi-sensory experience, in which the viewer is immediately implicated by the sight, smell, and vapour.
Part of the installation are the photographs taken in Naftalan hospital in Baku. Bathing in oil is a traditional cure in Azerbaijan*.
The installation reflects to the absurdity of human use of natural resources and the human condition in general.
*The Absheron peninsula is a region in Azerbaijan. It is host to Baku, the capital city of the country, and the Baku metropolitan area. It extends 60 km eastward into the Caspian Sea and reaches a maximum width of 30 km.
The Absheron peninsula was the site of some of the world's earliest petroleum production, beginning in the 1870s. Much of the landscape remains scarred with rusting oil derricks and there are serious problems with environmental damage and pollution.
Thousands of hectares of soil on Azerbaijan’s Absheron peninsula are unsuitable for agricultural use due to oil spills and general pollution due to the oil industry. Despite this there are people living there. It is a true ‘environmental holocaust’.
*Naftalan is a rare type of oil from Azerbaijan that is used only for medicinal purposes. Azerbaijani doctors have prescribed it for years to successfully treat various skin, joint and bone diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis and rheumatism.