An uncharacteristic chill yanks at the evening air of the United Arab Emirates’ coastal cities. Outdoors at nighttime, Emiratis and resident foreigners - coached in local knowledge of long scorching summers and brief mild winters - huddle into themselves, burrowing into their clothes.
As you wander through “Crude,” Jameel Arts Centre’s debut show, rumors of climate change slap at the back of your brainpan like a rebuke.
Among archival works addressing the West’s early history of political engagement with petroleum, few will be as revelatory to a 21st-century public as “Chronoscope, 1951, 11pm,” Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck’s 2009-2011 collaboration with Media Farzin.
This single-channel video samples the eponymous three-times-weekly CBS news digest, in which a pair of journalists interviewed a single guest. “Chronoscope” broadcast live in the early ’50s, when the innocence and indifference of U.S. audiences was assured.
The 25-minute work is enclosed within a room containing only a comfortable living room couch, replicating the conditions of the program’s original reception.
The artistry of Farzin and Balteo-Yazbeck’s piece lies in what they chose to select from the “Chronoscope” archives. They interweave comments from six guests from six episodes, orchestrating a fictive conversation about and around the 1951 Iranian oil crisis - caused when then-Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh nationalized Iran’s oil industry.