New Social Art School Projects - Tale of the Tiger

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Eva Merz, Anne Britt Rage and Kristina Lauche

Merz, Anne Britt Rage & Kristina Lauche at Torry Battery, Aberdeen, Summer 2005



TALE OF THE TIGER - Oil, People and Politics

DVD, 22 minutes

As part of the Oil and the City project (by urbanNovember) New Social Art School, featuring Anne Britt Rage, Kristina Lauche and Eva Merz, produced a video documentary about the oil industry in the North Sea.

The video is filmed in various locations in Aberdeen (harbour and city centre + footage from the North Sea) and focuses on the impact of the oil industry in Aberdeen. It contains six interviews with people working for or with the oil industry, ranging from a female helicopter pilot to a general secretary of an oil workers union. It features commentaries on the socio-economical impact of the industry in general. The authors reflect on a range of concerns, from workforce and gender issues to renewable energy and comparisons between Norway and UK oil politics in particular.

Most of the business is driven by numbers, by money and by health and safety figures. But it's not in terms of what it actually means to the people.

Kristina Lauche, Doctor in Psychology

We are in the extreme of the free international capitalism. Some are doing really well, some make money of the oil industry, some don't.

Eva Merz, Artist

Oil has become money, money is power, power is politics.

Anne Britt Rage, Artist

various interviewies

Work in progress, Summer 2005

Both Aberdeen (UK) and Stavanger (N) have been transformed through the oil findings in the North Sea. Stavanger was announced as the oil capitol and the Norwegian parliament decided to establish the offices of Oljedirektoratet and Statoil there. Aberdeen, now regarded as Oil Capitol of Europe, became the centre of operations in the UK and has changed dramatically since international oil companies set up base in the city. New jobs were created that replaced the fishing industry and attracted oil and gas specialists and an offshore workforce. We were interested to learn and explore how this global industry affected people locally.

The creation of the film Tale of the Tiger started with discussions and workshops with Oil and the City as well as our own research. We developed an agenda around global oil politics, the differences between Scotland and Norway, working in the industry with its safety and gender issues, sustainable energy and the impact on Aberdeen. Our interview partners were people who we had met through the Oil and the City engagement process or who we knew personally, and we started filming with a very tight time schedule.

The editing process brought us back together for further reflection and discussion. The political and environmental issues of the global oil industry seemed to evaporate in the eye of the storm – in the oil capitols the substance, which elsewhere motivates wars and stabilises an economy built on petrodollars, has become a normal fact of life. Our intention was to re-introduce the discussion of the impact of the oil industry into the everyday skyline of Aberdeen.

We would like to thank all who agreed to be interviewed and who supported our work. Your contributions have helped us to create a portray of oil lives in Aberdeen that will hopefully provide new perspectives for those who live here and elsewhere.

The oil business has been a big benefit to the city of Aberdeen. A lot of people have had 20-30 years of steady employment because of the oil industry.

Michael Heaney, Management Consultant

The old dogs like myself know that the good times can be very short lived.

Jake Molloy, OILC General Secretary

About 20 years ago, in the Norwegian sector, my experience was one of normality; men and women working together, doing various jobs. I then moved back to the UK and it was very different, it was still very much a surprise for them to see a woman actually working on the rig.

Christine Telford, Consultant Geologist

It was kind of a strain on the relationship really, you miss out on a lot in life. That was the main reason why I came onshore.

Andy Morin, Operations Engineer

That so many women choose traditional jobs like nursing and teaching, when there are so many more exciting things you can do, is simply mystery to me!

Marte Stigen, Helicopter Pilot

I find it frustrating that the motivation to actually invest money in renewable energy seems merely to come from the fact that we now get to the stage where oil is going to run out.

Angela Kruth, Research Fellow

exhibition shot

Video installation, Aberdeen Maritime Museum, October 2005

Tale of the Tiger is available for educational purposes.

Contact merz@newsocialartschool.org