Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home from work, caught in torrential rain


Video HD color animation, duration endless

23min. 8sec. (in loop)

Oil Workers is a reprise of a snap shot by David Claerbout found on the Internet. It shows Nigerian workers standing under a bridge on their way home from the factory. Tired and a bit worried, they are waiting for the rain to stop. The artist brought movement to the image and gives the impression that the photographer bumped into the group while circulating on the opposite side of the road.

This animated photograph's composition echoes that of the group portraits of 17th century Holland's bourgeois companies. The order of the motifs and the gradual perspective in particular indicate that this moment is actually staged. The introduction of movement highlights the formal and conceptual challenges of photography in the digital age: to restore, intertwine and merge realities and fictions.

David Claerbout's Oil Workers (2013) was first shown by the Pinault Collection in the exhibition The Illusion of Light at Palazzo Grassi, in 2014.