oil city, 2007-2008

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“Oil City”, 2007–2008, single-channel video, 7 min 30 sec

The video “Oil City” is set in the city of Mažeikiai (Lithuania), which is situated next to ORLEN Lietuva – the only oil processing company, and plant, in the Baltic States. It discusses the influence that this giant company has on the city. The artist asked citizens of Mažeikiai, who were active users of the Mažeikiai Municipality’s website forum, to express their opinions about their city – its present situation and its potential for the future. Mažeikiai has many Polish citizens, which is a cause for tension within the community – and that the company and the city pay the foreigners too many concessions, even maintaining Soviet attitudes. For better or worse, foreign employees working for the huge company influence the identity of Mažeikiai, and if the company did not exist, the city would flounder. Mažeikiai’s situation is similar to the Lithuanian city, Visaginas, dominated by Russians, employees of the power plant situated next to the city.

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Mažeikiai lacks infrastructure for public leisure; for instance, it doesn’t have a single cinema. It does, however, have several shopping centres, indicative of the city’s burgeoning wealth. The capitulation of leisure to consumption, however, is socially destructive and this tendency is characteristic of many regional centres in Lithuania and a feature of post-Soviet countries generally.