I was interested in oil companies as global corporations, I wanted to appropriate their star logo ( appropriated by the company, like shell) and fuel the tension of working with a politically incorrect subject in an ambiguous way. I was really fascinated in petrol stations in their capacity as social spaces and as potential arenas for social activity – the way they’re lit, they’re like a stage. They have a captive passing audience and reveal something of the late-night psyche. They are an after party venue for revellers past their best, everyone who drives has to use them.
I was interested in appropriating the corporate logo of the star and trying to use that symbol for my own purposes and undo its associations – in being very politically incorrect with the whole subject of oil companies and petrol, it wasn’t an obvious critique of the Texaco Corporation. I was also interested in how I could make a relationship on some level with the corporation, what would happen, using the attempt to get sponsorship as a kind of Trojan horse – “Commingling the format of a love affair with an attempt to get corporate sponsorship”.
The video is meant to be like a love song, and focuses on the full moon, their star, and red lighting, which links to another starting point. My lover at the time lived by a Texaco in London, while I was living in Amsterdam, and I enjoyed the ‘romantic’ fact that we shared the Texaco star as well as the real stars in the sky.
I took the video to the Texaco headquarters and showed the PR people, expecting them to say, “You can’t use our logo, you can’t show this film”, and in fact in Holland they said they’d like a copy to show it to their new employees, because it was harmless and wasn’t a critique of their activities. In Britain they were more patronising, maybe because art practice was less integrated in everyday life in Britain then than in Holland. In Holland I somewhat befriended the PR person. She was quite extraordinary and had even commissioned a Texaco tulip and I found the corporate world quite absurd and ridiculous as well as everything else that is on a more serious level. The project was about this surreal appropriation and I was trying to work with the absurdity in a critical way.
With friends, I did a series of performances in Texaco garages on the nights of the full moon leading up to the exhibition (in a project space in Utrecht – Casco). They were called ‘garage gate-crashes’. I went with a group of friends and everyone dressed in red clothes, and handed out flyers for the exhibition to the passing drivers, so it was a marketing exercise to a different audience and a way of trying to occupy and use the space of the garage without permission. That idea led to this other piece of work, the Statoil Moonlight Ball in Poland when I was taking part in a project at the Artists’ Museum. We went to two different Texacos during the months prior to the show, one in Amsterdam and one in Utrecht where the gallery is located.
The show consisted of the videos, Texaco Love projected on a loop as a single screen piece in a purpose-built cinema, the newsletter with anecdotal stories and images from the research parodying the promotional newsletter of the company, a soundtrack tape for sale, giveaway promo items from Texaco, and black and white hand-printed photographs of the research trips.
31.03.1996 – 28.04.1996:
Photographs, collages, a newsletter, soundtrack, cassettes (for sale) and giveaway items donated by Texaco, as satellites around the show’s central core: the video projection Texaco Love, a ‘road movie’ of visits to Texaco petrol stations, shown in a diy cinema.
‘Anna Best reveals her personal attachment to something as anonymous as a chain of petrol stations: their ‘absurd glamour’, non-places along the way which are nonetheless solid, attractive and very definite and which, in their unreality satisfy some part of the late night psyche. In the video Texaco garage gatecrashes she goes to Texaco garages at full moon to invite motorists to the exhibition as Casco. The newsletter contians photographs, stories, anecdotes and associations centred around the theme of Texaco, including a number of ‘fainting stories’.
Venue and locations
Casco Projects, Utrecht, Netherlands
Texacos in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Wapping, London
Broadsheet: Deep in the Heart of Texaco Love
Screenprint: Wherever you go: Texaco Love coming soon
Texaco BV Netherlands
Texaco Netherlands and Gerry Gysbers for sponsorship of the Newsletter
Sylvia Hammacher for Design and Desktop Publishing
Mariette Dolle and Lisetter Smits and Casco
Texaco UK and Dan England
All contributors to the Newsletter:
Saskia Olde Wolbers
Dik Groot and the Rijksakademie Apple Mac facilities
Roy Taylor and the Rijksakademie video facilities
Mebo Print BV, Amsterdam Apple Mac facilities and Offset Printing
All who joined Garage Gatecrashes no.1 and no.2:
Fleur van Dissel
Saskia Olde Wolbers
- Casco ’96 Booklet
- Video stills from ‘garage gatecrash’
- Exhibition invite
- Videos of ‘garage gatecrash’ performances
- Texaco Love video
- Audio of soundtrack from cassette for sale
- Pdfs of newsletter
- Photographs from ‘night of ten texacos’
- Black and white photographs from working process
- Scans from collages
- Review of Traffic by Richard Reynolds