Tanja Engelberts finished her 2,5-year-long residency at the Rijksakademie with the offshore projects she has been working on for the past 4 years: the changing North Sea landscape of oil and gas platforms that are disappearing, in which she also examines our changing attitude towards this fossil fuel industry. In her artistic practice, she wonders what happens to processes that people set in motion, but which have consequences that will manifest themselves long after our own deaths. During Rijksakademie Open Studios 2021 she showed the video ‘Decom’, a slide show consisting out of 80 slides with text, a lightbox depicting the North Sea and performed a sound piece together with Marcel Imthorn.
‘Decom’ is a portrait of a decommissioning yard, the place where platforms come to die. The huge structures are lifted from the sea and are broken apart, recycled and re-used on land. The film is devoid of any people; the machines have taken over to clean up the scraps of man. The scrapyard has its own flow, the film has the same rhythm, it is very slow and then all of a sudden there is a burst of violence. You also see this cycle at sea, when an oil or gas field reaches the end of production. Operators stimulate the field through fracking, it means the pressure drops, a violent explosion occurs and the oil flows back up, then they repeat the process. The film oscillates between very tranquil wide shots, that introduce this otherworldliness, close ups that show the violence and the machine-perspective where the viewer becomes part of the violence.