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01 The Color of Oil

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私は若い頃から、石油以前の世界と石油以後の世界を 歴史的に繋げる事が出来なかった。石油以前のクウェートの 生活は貧しく、街が全く開発されず、そして人々の収入源は真珠だけであった。真珠採り潜水夫、真珠商売、真珠船造り、真珠採り潜水夫の音楽や歌。実は私の祖父も真珠船上の歌い手だった。このようなアラビア湾の素朴な生活は千年以上も続いたと言われている。私たちは皆、真珠という名の神を崇拝していた。全ての思い、会話、仕事はその周辺に動いており、他の事は全部二の次と捉えられていた。

政府はメディアやミュージアムを使って、我々に歪んだ「文化」のイメージを売ろうとする。「これがあなた達の固有の文化形態、遺産、そしてアイデンティティーなのだ」と必死に国民を説得する。ただ、ディズニーランドのような安いロウで飾られたジオラマやフェイクな 遺跡村を見ると、その過去がもっと離れているように見え、まるで神話の世界に入ったかのようだ。


それはもちろん虚言だが、 そう考える人を責める事はできないのだ。


様々な側面から長く考えた末、プレ・オイルとポスト・オイルの一つのラディカルな繋げ方を創造した 。それは「色」だった。



Ever since I was young, I have unable to link the world before oil in Kuwait to the world after oil. Life in Kuwait before oil was very poor, under developed and almost completely dependent on one industry: Pearls. Pearl diving, pearl trade, pearl boat building, music for pearl divers. Indeed, my own grandfather was a singer on a pearl diving boat. This rustic life on the coastal Arabian Gulf is said to have continued for thousands of years. It was said that we were all slaves of one master – Pearl. All thought, all conversation, all employment, turns on that one subject; everything else is merely by-game, and below even secondary consideration.
However, in the mid-20th century oil came into our world and wiped away this entire way of life forever. The past was effectively erased.
Like an alien invasion from outerspace, oil transformed our cities, our livelihoods, and even our bodies to a point of no return.
Local governments use their museums and media to “sell” a distorted version of this history as being distinctly ours; they may say this is your culture, this is your heritage, this is your identity. But because it is only animated by dioramas of wax figurines in Disney-esque fake heritage villages, it feels very distant, almost mythical.
The past has been rendered into fiction.

From the outside, it appears to many as if we have no history at all.

This is of course a lie, but I don’t blame those who feel that way.
For it feels like history has gone and disappeared somewhere.

I have been contemplating how to bridge this huge rupture caused by oil in the narrative of this place.

After much thought and deliberation, I found one radical link that can be applied to both the pre- and post-oil world: color.

I found that the color of pearls and oil comes from the same dichroic color spectrum. This color symbolizes the essence of the history of this place. The color of wealth production in the Gulf has always been the same, it just mutates over time and space.
I am developing extensive research of this color, and creating artworks and myths around it, so that it can live on in the future and articulate itself in our world even after oil has become worthless.