School of Oil and Water

School of Oil and Water is a mail-order kit to examine your relations with petroleum through a collection of artist-made objects and activities.

This contemplative correspondence school takes the form of an artist book packaged in a box. Our curriculum explores these guiding questions:
– Who is oil and what does oil desire from us?
– Is oil merely a fuel source and material for humans, or could it have other reasons to exist?
– How can we practice relating to petroleum as a vibrant ancestor?

School of Oil and Water is designed to be experienced over the course of a week.

The project is a limited edition of 50, produced in 2023. Purchase a copy at this link.

Day 1

With time and temperature changes, the kerogen in oil shale changes to petroleum. In Holding Kerogen, Kate Joranson invites you engage physically and emotionally with a kerogen rock. A series of photos, handwritten questions and observations, and a set of soft cotton paper support deep listening and intimacy through pressure and touch.

Day 2

You Are Made of Stardust and Microplastics: Meditation for Extinction is a 25 minute embodied meditation by Liz Ensz and Skye Fort. Using a rock-shell made from recycled #2 plastic (HDPE) and a guiding video, this piece explores deep time, the transformation of matter, and the acceptance of our own extinction.

Link to video here.

Day 3

Mixtape for Breaking Up with Oil… and Falling Back in Love by Lindsey french is both a soundtrack and a smelltrack made to accompany the looping, gooey angst of longing and heartache involved in redefining a relationship which seems impossible to change.

If you don’t have a cassette player, you can link to the soundtrack here.

Day 4

Alex Young’s Long Shadows Glow in the Dark is an open-ended astragalomancy (casting lots) poem intended to be consulted with the assistance of the included dice (D10, D6, D6). Drift with the text or develop systems and approaches to divination that possess personal meaning for you. How will you choose to commune with your manifold relationships with multitudinous actors in energy, oil, biota, elements, others? In what ways do they choose to commune with you?

Day 5

Drifters by Nica Ross and Ginger Brooks Takahashi is a video board game, set in the Mesozoic early Atlantic Ocean. Your plastic playing pieces compose a bloom of many tiny zooplankton, who live as drifters, moving at the whims of the current and forces beyond their control. Over time they die, drifting down to the ocean floor. Here they decompose and with time, heat and pressure transform their tiny bodies into crude oil. This game offers players an opportunity to explore our kinship and consider the lived experiences of this wide diversity of species whose bodies we now call fuel.

Link to video here.

Day 6

Remember when your dead bodies… by Fereshteh Toosi, is a letterpress broadsheet poem, printed with a blind emboss of macroalgae (seaweed) from Biscayne Bay in Miami. This is your extra credit reading assignment! It was first distributed as part of Into the Proofer, an exhibit curated by David Court at in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Day 7

We invite you to share about your experiences by uploading photos, video, sounds, voice memos, and writing.

Please tag @oil_ancestors on Instagram or use one or both of the following hashtags so we can find you:

You’r also welcome to share your responses directly at
PO Box 530054, Miami Shores, FL 33153


Artists: Lindsey french, Ginger Brooks Takahashi & Nica Ross, Kate Joranson, Alex Young, Liz Ensz & Skye Fort, and Fereshteh Toosi

Creative Director: Fereshteh Toosi

🔗 Learn more about the artists.

School of Oil and Water @oil_ancestors is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight New Work Award @knightfdn