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Madeleine Bavley

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CRUDE: Cultivating Pleasure in (spite of) Petroleum Culture

-Madeleine Bavley

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Born and bred in the Midwest, I ambled about for a bit before wandering West. Now an MA student in the Environmental Humanities program, I study petroleum culture and the potentials of pleasure as a mode of resistance and reimagining. My pleasures include, but are by no means limited to, spicy curries, stone fruits, and spots of water in arid places.
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Our relationship with petroleum is complicated. It provides us convenience, comfort, and commodity. It is also cause of our climate crisis. Stephanie LeMenager describes our relationship with petroleum as a “bad love,” a “destructive attachment.” Reconfiguring our relationship to our energy systems requires reflecting on our current one. But petroleum is a sticky substance that tends to remain inconspicuous and resist interpretation. Everywhere and everything, it is exceedingly ordinary, often overlooked. Through a mixed medium approach, my project aims to interpret this sticky substance. And as established forms of environmental address are often unappealing and uninviting, my project invokes alternative environmental affects and aesthetics that might appeal to a broader audience. Informed by the theories of adrienne maree brown and Nicole Seymour, who both consider pleasure a mode of resistance, I contend that pleasure can be a means of reconfiguring our energy epistemologies.
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As our climate crisis intensifies, we must change our relationship to our energy systems. But this doesn’t have to be entirely unpleasant. It can also be pleasurable.

Video is intended for mature audiences.