Stage 9
15:30 - 16:00
Immersive Arts
Empire of Oil / From Documentary to Performing Arts to VR

Short thesis

The Berlin based artist group Costa Compagnie took up the subject of oil and conducted interviews in Norway and Iraq, while filming with a 360°-camera, in order to use the footage in an immersive cyclorama-stage and a VR-film. At re:publica 18 the artists will present a summarizing video of their performance series EMPIRE OF OIL and also engage in dialogue with their audience about war and art, crisis and consumerism, VR and reality.


Besides all technological developments, almost every product and service is still being created with and by the use of oil. With EMPIRE OF OIL, Costa Compagnie aimed to question this situation by speaking to the people involved in oil production and/or living in the regional context of the resource. Divided into three separate intermedial parts – documentary video, text and dance, framed by a VR installation – the project circles the complex topic between documentation and abstraction. Does the powerful resource entail the potential for a social welfare utopia like in Norway, or does it lead to a never-ending conflict like in Iraq? What are the experiences of oil workers and the people who are standing against fossil fuels? Are there certain aesthetics to the oil-rich underground – the hidden? And will we survive the oil-age? The 360°-footage was filmed among other places in Stavanger, Bergen, Erbil, Kirkuk and Mosul and will be presented again in the artists' immersive 360°-cyclorama-stage at Ballhaus Ost Theater in Berlin in late May.

At re:publica 18, Costa Compagnie will show a video summary of the project, speak about their process and dig deeper into the phenomena of the “information bubble” and how to confront and question it with documentary based arts and media that reach beyond common aesthetics, narratives and imagery. After the video, the artists wish to open the panel and discuss the topic of oil itself and its interrelation with POP-lifestyle and industry with the audience, but furthermore also challenge the idea of immersive technology and its potential for an enlarged world view. How does VR relate to reality? Is a broader digital participation, storytelling and reporting on a visual and global level really possible, in order to let us question our relation to war and consumerism, environment and (digital) territory? Or might it remain a tech-related extravaganza? And how can interdisciplinary arts push for moments of irritation and reflection when using the technology?