Art that is manifestly “about” something can get pretty heavy-handed and preachy. But Matt Kenyon’s mind-bending installation Supermajor (the title refers to big publicly owned oil companies) is beautifully simple, despite being conceived as a response to the BP oil spill. The sculpture shows six vintage oil canisters, with oil seeming to drip up from a pedestal and back through a hole in one of the cans.
(You should start the video at around 30 seconds if you’re impatient to see the upward-flowing oil.)
The trick is in the flickering light, which is synced with the falling droplets to make them look like they’re moving against gravity. It’s an arresting visual, and a pretty good commentary about oil companies and their environmental irresponsibility. I’m no art critic, but as far as I can tell, the message is “take this oil and shove it back up your hole.”