Medium of Exchange

by Sheida Soleimani

Medium of Exchange investigates the complex relationships between the all-male leaders of OPEC countries and the West, finding both complicit in warfare that has come as a result of oil interest. Investigating the ties between these powerful figures, the photographs and screen plays use the tactics of theatre and humor to scrutinize the corruption stemming from the oil trade, while suggesting a new way to view the codependence of leaders. Portraits of OPEC Oil Ministers and Western government officials proposes an interplay of love and sex between those in command; fetishes guide their exchanges, which result in drastic global turmoil- frequently at the expense of civilians from the OPEC countries. Characterizations of each figure play out amongst backdrops of oil fields and refineries that dot the landscape of the resource-rich region. These portraits are accompanied by a series of short screen plays, adapting narratives from records of public speeches and conversations between government officials and top-ranking officers. Pulling from archives, media photographs, official documents, and conflicting news stories, Medium of Exchange expounds upon the role of petroleum trade in concert with inadequacies of governments to provide for their citizens.