Manhattan Oil Project

Josephine Meckseper

Manhattan Oil Project by Josephine Meckseper was the second installation at The Last Lot project space, presented by Art Production Fund. In Manhattan Oil Project, Meckseper presented two new monumental kinetic sculptures, each standing 25 feet tall. These full scale sculptures were inspired by mid-20th century oil pumps the artist discovered in Electra, a boarded-up town once famous for being the pump jack capital of Texas. The pump jacks recall the ruins of ghost towns, forgotten monuments of America's decaying industrial past. This pairing of the pump jacks and the Times Square location merged a classic symbol of American oil production and wealth with the center of New York City commercial culture.

The oil pump sculptures formally refer to the large-scale kinetic sculptures of Jean Tinguely, Alexander Calder, and Mark Di Suvero. Although they mirrored the forms and materials of the mid-century oil industry, Meckseper located her work firmly inside the contemporary debate about American business, wealth and consumerism. The pumps were intended as ignition points for critical discussion engaged directly with modern life.