Of Oil and Ice
Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj, 2017

Project Team:
El Hadi Jazairy + Rania Ghosn
Kelly Koh, Rawan Alsaffar, Max Jarosz, Shuya Xu

The project speaks to the intertwined concerns of climate change, melting glaciers, and energy intensive desalination industries. The project departs from an observation by Prince Mohammed Al Faisal that “an Iceberg project is a better enterprise than oil.” In 1976, Prince Al Faisal was responding to the growth of desalination plants in a dry region with high water demands. In a large-scale manipulation of environmental processes, he asked: Why simply allow the billions liters of fresh and pure water that make up icebergs to be diluted in oceans? In response, he along with George Mougin and Paul Emile Victor, created the Iceberg Transport International venture company to study if an iceberg could be towed the 14,000km from Antarctica to Jeddah.

Of Oil and Ice recovers this historical episode to propose a geostory that critically reflects on the energy intensive desalination plants and more broadly on the geographic implications of climate change. In a whiff of dark ecology, the project internalizes the melting of ice caps from Greenland to nourish the rising water demands of the Gulf. This story solicits a discussion on both the environmental future of the region and its contemporary practices.