Filmscreening and Talk

• Tue 12 12 2023 / 8 pm •
Visualizing Extraction


The last 6 years, Sanaz has been working on a trilogy of essay films that unpack the relationship between the political economy of photography, archival technologies, and the visual history of resource extraction in Iran. This project explores how the political life of oil contributed to the global media culture while it also shaped the cultural aspirations of many postcolonial states in the Global South.

© Filmmaker and VOX, Center for Contemporary Images, Montréal. Images reproduced with the permission of BP p.l.c. (1-3)

The first two episodes of this trilogy, “One Image, Two Acts” (2020) and “Scenes of Extraction” (2023), closely examined the British Petroleum’s (BP) media and communication department which was responsible for production of ethnographic, industrial, and propaganda films and photography during its colonial operation in Iran between 1908-1951. During her time at the ADKDW Residency at Cologne, she will be working on the final film episode of this trilogy, which examines how the visual cultures of oil after the departure of Western oil companies were tasked to navigate the politics of nation-building on the one hand and to build transnational solidarity on the other.

More specifically, the film is centered around the postcolonial image politics of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) between 1960 and 1980. The final episode of this trilogy tells a different story of OPEC not simply as an international energy organization but also as a decolonial project contemporaneous with other transnational ideological currents during the era of global decolonization such as Non-Aligned Movement which was established one year after OPEC in 1961. The collective ideology of OPEC constituted and transmitted an image of transnational oil which was distinct from the preceding colonial and imperial extractive logics. OPEC became a new “imagined community” of oil requiring cultural representation. Newsreels and television appearances by the “oilmen” representing the OPEC member states were often used to broadcast this collective image, and state-issued postal stamps commemorating oil independence anniversaries and celebrating OPEC’s establishment became a popular means of communicating the anticolonial visual slogans within and beyond their national borders.

12 12 2023 | 8 pm
Filmhaus Köln
Maybachstraße 111, 50670 Cologne
In English language
The venue is accessible by elevator without steps