Miriam Sentler     


Fossil Fuel Mnemosyne Oil & Myth at RADIUS Centre for Contemporary Art & Ecology Delft (NL) during Climate of Concern - Burning out in the Age of Fossil Fuel Expressionism, 2022. Courtesy the artist & R. Lekkerkerk. Permanently on view at RADIUS CCA. Photo: Gunnar Meier

Fossil Fuel Mnemosyne

This work was developed during residencies at USF Verftet (Bergen, Norway) and Knockvologan Studies (Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides, Scotland and is permanently on display in the watertower of RADIUS, Centre for Art & Ecology in Delft, NL (property of Lekkerkerk/RADIUS).

Thanks to Lotte van Dijk, Silvia van de Kruijs, Marie Ilse Bourlanges, Elena Khurtova, Alix Chauvet, Marcos Kueh, Billie van Katwijk, Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk, Sergi Rusca, Johann Gustavsson, Gabija Seiliute.

The project is generously funded by Mondrian Fund, Stichting Stokroos and Prince Bernhard Culture Fund.


(2021-ongoing) Tapestry, 350 x 175 cm. Jacquard weave, merino wool and cotton. Produced in collaboration with the TextileLab, the professional workplace of the Textielmuseum Tilburg.

The worship of Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory, used to begin with a ritual of initiation consisting in first drinking the water of Lethe (forgetfulness) to forget all previous thoughts, and afterwards drinking the water of Mnemosyne, which brought back the memories of what the devotee saw in his descent in the river. Extrapolating the ritual to today’s manufacturing of fuel from fossils that have been forming under the sea for thousands of years, many memories of the sea reappear and remind us of the knowledges and lives that are subject to rapid destruction.

Miriam Sentler weaves water and oil myths through time travel and speculative fiction in Fossil Fuel Mnemosyne, a tapestry produced in collaboration with the TextielLab from the Textielmuseum in Tilburg. This work is the result of research carried out over two residencies: one in the United Sardine Factory, Bergen (NO), and another as part of the Knockvologan Studies in the Inner Hebrides (UK), both located in the proximity to oil platforms.

Oil has long been attributed with mythical and magical properties. Shark and whale oils were used for weather forecasting, as well as healing ointments for wounds, respiratory issues, and infertility. Nowadays, oil is not exempt of mythification: oil companies use branding techniques to name their facilities after heroes of the Bible and the Nordic Saga. Interested in the various storytelling of oil cultures, Sentler presents a rich iconography of characters and symbols that weld oil and myth throughout time. By doing so in a tapestry, the artist references the tradition of commissioning tapestries by the rich and powerful to depict myths and stories with educational purposes and political undertones. In Fossil Fuel Mnemosyne, the artist seeks to review the importance of myth as a tool to challenge capitalistic fossil fuel branding methods and to grasp the industry’s growing influence on the management of Earth’s resources.

- Text written by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk & Sergi Rusca

Fossil Fuel Mnemosyne at RADIUS CCA - Climate of Concern - Building out in the Age of Fossil Fuel Expressionism, 2022. Work on right: Julian Charriere, Future Fossil Spaces, 2017.
Copyright: RADIUS CCA / photo: Gunnar Meier

Fossil Fuel Mnemosyne at Prospects - Art Rotterdam, 2022. Photo credits: Aad Hoogendoorn

Production at the TextileLab, the professional working place of the Textile Museum Tilburg, detail, 2022

Pastel drawing, design tapestry, 350 x 175 cm, 2022

© Miriam Sentler 2022