25. 05. 2023 – 16. 06. 2023, opening 24. 05. 2023 7pm

Today, as I write this text for Madeleine Andersson’s exhibition entitled Petrosexuality for Galerie 35M2, in among the early morning news the report has just flashed up that Donald Trump has been found guilty of sexually abusing a journalist. Should I be cheering, even if this case doesn’t specifically relate to me? But of course it relates to me! It relates to all women, men, girls, boys or any other beings who are or have been the victim of an evil act, not only of a sexual nature. In my thoughts I go back to the moment in 2016 when this rigid example of white masculinity was elected to the highest office of the United States of America. Among other matters, Trump’s misogynist government consistently denied the existence of climate change. It was characterised by its toxic denial of environmental problems, the value placed on fossil systems by the patriarchal government and the repression of anyone different. Violence, toxicity, artificially generated needs, or the compulsiveness of this system in which everything can easily be obtained, all of this is built upon a simple formula of carrot and stick. This white misogyny is the chief representative of petro-masculinity, engendering authoritarian power.

Today in my spam I also found an advertisement for a Penis Activator, guaranteeing me a gigantic penis, huge orgasms and a rock-hard erection. I’m sick and tired of these messages, which never stop insisting on the uniqueness and size of white dicks. Does anyone actually want them?

Following on from the theme of fossil fuels, which have already been addressed in Galerie 35M2 by the Slovak artist Oto Hudec in his exhibition entitled We Are All Carbon in 2019, we are now focusing on the ever-topical issue of another type of fossil fuel – oil. Interestingly, the Czech word for oil, “ropa”, has its origins in the Polish language, and means “pus” – this is an old term for saline springs, and of course we also know that oil formed over a period of several million years from the decayed bodies of marine microorganisms and small animals. In Galerie 35M2 for the first time we are holding an exhibition Madeleine Andersson, a Swedish artist based in Copenhagen, which represents a premiere of the artist’s work in the Czech Republic. 

I first came across the term petrosexuality at a summer school in Latvia, thanks to an essay we all read together. This was a text by Cara Dagett entitled Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire, which by coincidence has also provided a powerful inspiration for Andersson’s work. Fossil capitalism, which continues to draw upon the atmosphere of the 1970s in the USA, endeavours to combust more than is necessary, constantly drives people towards productivity, towards the mistaken belief in endless resources of energy, which through capitalist desires is beginning to take on the form of explosive deregulation. An aura continues to be promoted which is built upon the necessity of a consumerist lifestyle. But is this still a necessity? 

Petro-sexuality is a compound of two basic words – petrol (as oil) and sex (as an orgiastic flow of feelings, sensations, and biochemical reactions leading to conception). Andersson humorously and sarcastically interconnects male masculinity with the oil extraction industry, which parades its power, lust and ecstasy, up to the point of eruption in ejaculation. If we were to take a closer look at the linguistic terminology, we would find that they do not differ greatly. Spermiogenesis, epididymal maturation, ejaculation, capacitation, nuclear membrane, smooth chordae, terminal part, pair of central tubules, nuclear vacuoles, acrosome, centriole, anulus or continental shelves, abyssal, kerogen, oil traps, lateral migration, gas cap expansion, aquifer skeleton contraction etc. Unless one is familiar with these terms, it is difficult to distinguish which of them relate to the human body and which to oil extraction. 

Andersson also plays with the rigidity of academic language, which she uses with a degree of hyperbole and projects with a jovial delivery, full of sexual harassment and misogynistic remarks. The author breaks down our boundaries – just as she breaks down the barriers of the sexual undertones and hidden manifestations in the manner of communication of the masculine pop world. With a certain obscenity, she intuitively places alongside one another similar visual keys, which are the antithesis of two worlds. Her visual contemplation thus becomes intertwined with an inner physicality – bodily fluids such as water, pus, saliva, menstrual blood etc., as well as with the fossil fuel industry and its extraction, and a violent approach to the Earth as the controlled organ. She links fantasising about forceful conquest and an obsession with the penetration of the Earth together with global issues through her sensual physicality. She thus renders her work more legible to viewers, who can better connect to the emotional character of the theoretical discourse. 

In this the exhibition the author presents her long-term project, which we find in four autonomous works – the video Your Hole is Our Goal contains a collage compiled by the author from various footage of workers in the fossil fuel industry. The irony with which the artist works in the video is intertwined with physical reactions of the body, with its orifices, bodily fluids, glands, which she almost cynically likens to fossil fuel. The title is based on a slogan used by oil conglomerates, primarily in the USA. The second work is a certain science-fiction pictorial mind map, which not only humorously refers to visual literacy, but also to the artist’s own train of thought. The work incorporates a performative lecture, which refers to the linguistics of delivery, a set of methodologies of visual study or a performative method in which the author utilises the voice and expression of the body. Another important element is her publication entitled Petrosexuality, which the author compiled together with contributions from other participants (Unn Aurell Hansson, Kevin Pihlblad Bogle, Adam Varab, Imre Szeman, Sonia Sagan, Mari Mattsson, Valentin Malmgren, X, Annie Bergstedt, Richard Krantz, Pernille Nordentoft Tørslev & Ba Bladh). This represents a deconstruction and reflection upon the fossil fuel industry and culture in general. The speculative nature of the narration is thus an intensive examination of our capitalist desires, which leads to several diverse conclusions. The artist also engages in a play of human relationships, which frequently do not differ markedly from the relationships of the extraction industry – the connection she locates here is something we see day in, day out – in partners who attempt to control us, and who ultimately leave only bitterness and a feeling of destruction in their wake. 

curator: Tea Záchová
photos: Peter Kolárčik