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Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2016

Abstract

This article engages with the artistic practice of petrography, the art of creating photographic images through the action of sunlight upon bitumen, the heavy-oil material that is the source of the petroleum in the Athabasca tar sands. It presents several examples of petrographs that document the process of industrial bitumen mining itself. Further, it theorizes the ways in which both the process of producing petrographs and the act of engaging with them as a viewer require a degree of collaboration normally absent from our consumption of petroleum as the medium of modernity. A key argument of the paper is the reconfiguration of bitumen as a medicine in Cree/Métis contexts, which leads to an alternative Indigenous idea of the petro-medium as an active, relational substance with its own potential agency.