Andy Fox & Jo Blankenburg

Jo Blankenberg oil spill "What it must be like for the birds which become soaked in mineral oil and perish on the beach." It’s only a few months since the latest oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in the early summer of 2010, but it seems virtually forgotten. Oil-clogged birds dying on the shoreline have long since become a symbol of the use of resources that is driven solely by commercial interests without proper regard for the environment. The sea-life has no chance of escaping from the sticky, black sludge. But how do young women from various backgrounds react to unexpectedly having an oil-like substance poured over them? Jo Blankenburg, composer and filmmaker and his brother, the photographer Andy Fox, whose surfing and outdoor photographs are published around the world, decided to try an experiment against oblivion.


Jo Blankenberg oil spill “OIL SPILL – THE HUMAN UEBERFLUSS” is an artistic multimedia project created by Jo Blankenburg (music/video) and Andy Fox (photography/video). With this experiment involving 7 women from different backgrounds, the brothers aim to remind us of the great oil disasters through the “metaphorical equation of people with the oil-smeared birds”. The ikono On Air Festival shows the trailer a few times during the festival on the air (and on the web below) to support the project. Trailer The OIL SPILL” art project The “victims” were 7 young women hailing from different areas of the world. They weren’t told about the exact procedure of the experiment, nor with which liquid substance they were soon been confronted. Dressed only in a bikini, they all lay on a white board in a pool. They were asked to contemplate the unknown with their eyes open, not to look away, and not to turn away. Nine litres of a black oil-like substance poured over their faces for four seconds. The brief flooding of their nostrils and mouths produced momentary horror and left them gasping for breath. The high-speed video and the stills cameras taking 500 pictures a second recorded every facial movement and every emotion that the women showed. Jo Blankenburg says: “We wanted to use people as a metaphor for the birds that were affected by the oil. The intention of the project was only revealed at the end of the individual interviews with the women. The tension primarily lay therein to ‚destroy’ the seamless appearance of the young womens faces by the crude oil-like substance“ And Andy Fox adds: “Both we and the women got a buzz from it. The women didn’t know what was coming. Behind the camera we were interested to see what facial expressions the participants would show us, or whether they would even lose control of their emotions.” OIL SPILL – THE HUMAN UEBERFLUSS premiered in association with the 61st Berlin International Film Festival 2011. More at and on Facebook.

The Artists

Jo Blankenburg is a composer and pianist from Germany now living in Los Angeles. Although his compositions cover a wide spectrum of genres, his main emphasis is film music. The interaction between acoustic and visual elements is the inspiring source for Jo. Find him at and Photographer Andy Fox has a work in progress site over here at