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Petrol Station

A Russian artist explores the force behind American foreign policy.

The video projections that accompany some of the figurative works are extremely powerful. Molodkin lights and aims a camera at the acrylic block with the head of the Statue of Liberty. The wall-size real-time projection shows the crude ebbing and flowing into and out of Lady Liberty's head like her lifeblood.

Oil is flowing through the Station.
Courtesy of the Station Museum of Contemporary Art
Oil is flowing through the Station.

One of the best works in "CRUDE" is Molodkin's monument to the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, a site-specific piece the artist did across the street from the museum. It's here that the crispness of the artist's style works best. The ornate old gas station on the other side of Alabama Street dates from roughly the same time period as the Russian Revolution, and the early 20th century was when the Texas oil boom began. Long abandoned and boarded up, the building is painted with red-and-black block letters which parody the bold constructivist dynamism of the Russian Revolution's graphics. "Neft," the Russian word for "oil," and "Revolution" are written in Cyrillic. Russia and its oil wealth are now a capitalist free-for-all, and the Houston of that quaint little gas station is now the "Energy Capital of the World." Molodkin is asking us to upset the old oil-based order. It's a wry call to arms to 21st-century comrades.

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