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There Will Be Oil

There Will Be Oil

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Marathon, Texas - 2023

56” x 79” Unframed 71” x 94” Framed Edition of 12
37” x 52” Unframed 52” x 67” Framed Edition of 12

West Texas is the hub of the American Petroleum industry - so much so that West Texas Intermediate ( WTI) is a benchmark crude oil futures contract traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

Oil was first discovered in West Texas at the turn of the 19th century and the reserves in the Permian basin are so big that the region still produces 4m barrels a day - a third of US oil production.
With oil came a story book of characters. My sense was that drilling sites in West Texas in 1915 were loosely governed and uncompromising places, where avarice and sin lurked around most corners. Wildcatting in the wild west came with little cultural refinement and probably a cavalier abuse of unchecked power.

To incorporate all this in one vignette required using the space on our set efficiently. There were many thoughts in my mind that morning near Marathon, Texas, but the overarching one was to offer a sense of place. It is not such a challenge in West Texas, which is why so many acclaimed movies, such as Paul Anderson’s Oscar winning There will be Blood, were shot in the area. We return here regularly to tell stories and each time our ambitions have broadened. It is a place that has traditionally not rewarded modesty.

As a photographer, I try and resist the urge to both “show and tell”. I prefer to just “show” and then it is up to the audience to interpret.

I am not sure of the relationship between the woman and the oil man, or indeed any of the drillers, or what she was doing in town. But at this very moment in time, the crew had more important matters to deal with and whatever her game, it was going to have to wait. ~ David Yarrow

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