What do Libyan oil, soldiers' blood, ink and a dead dog have in common? They've all been used as materials by Andrei Molodkin. The Russian artist's newest work, which goes on show in London today, is made from 4.5 tons of steel and three barrels of crude oil, sourced in Libya, Iraq and Chechnya. Visitors will walk through a cramped Constructivist corridor, penned in by tubes bleeding fuel and fumes. "The Libyan oil was particularly expensive," he notes. "I want people to try and sniff it out."
It's his most complex work yet, a refinement of ideas which first took hold in the mid-Eighties when he was conscripted to the Soviet Army. For two years he transported missiles across Siberia, eating bread smeared in oil for illicit highs and sketching in military-issue ballpoint pen.
His work today is noisily, nakedly political, from acrylic, oil-filled tubes spelling "democracy" to a portrait of George Bush, drawn using 2,764 of those army pens – at the time, one for every American soldier who had died in Iraq. For the 2009 Venice Biennale, he crafted a colossal, transparent Winged Victory of Samothrace, into which he sloshed Chechen oil and blood donated by soldiers who served in the region.
Molodkin, 45, is now developing a process to make human remains into oil, and eventually, art. Talk about blood money. So far, eight people have signed up to be boiled down after death and he has been experimenting on a dead dog he found on the road near his studio. In the meantime, there's new work inspired by WikiLeaks to finish off. "It's part of the project to have problems with the authorities", he says. "I plan it that way".
To 17 December, Art Sensus, London W1Reuse content