White Oil (2014) is a single screen film that excavates a number of narratives around the quarries in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. The film was made over a period of three years and is premised on a practice where intersubjective relations were one of the most important features in the making of this film.
There are over 350 quarries in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. The stone excavated has been termed the 'white oil' of Palestine and is the only raw material available to support the Palestinian economy and provides a livelihood for over 20,000 workers. However, of the stone and sand excavated from the quarries 65% is expropriated by Israel for the construction of Israel, and to build the illegal settlements in the West Bank, with Israel also exporting the stone internationally and claiming it as their own product. Today almost every hillside is scarred by the brutal incision of the quarries. Walking through the landscape of the West Bank this mutilation becomes disconcertedly visible to the naked eye. The land is pillaged and defaced, its wound left open to reveal a 'geology of disaster'.
Price’s research considers how artistic production and its modes of reception can transform our understanding of the geopolitical and spatial relations of the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. It does this through a study of the extraction and exploitation of stone from the quarries in the West Bank, using film to speak directly about the intimate lived experiences of people caught up in the neocolonial struggles of this region, the technologies of industrial production, the reproduction of everyday life and the production of the moving image. White Oil uses vernacular language with a highly composed aesthetic imbued in the language of the static frame, the durational image and the aesthetics of delay.
This research explores how these dynamics can be brought together to produce new meanings, and considers the role of the artist as filmmaker, activist and ethnographer. The single screen film White Oil engages with the interstices of a number of genres – photography, documentary, the cinematic, fiction and testimony – with ethnographic methodologies playing an important role to address the way in which the quarries are not just industrial spaces in which labour and excavation of raw material take place, but lived spaces.