Saturday 18 November 2017

Pictures in oils: Disaster is a recipe for good art

The cover of the August issue of ‘Vogue Italia’ featuring model Kristen McMenam.
The cover of the August issue of ‘Vogue Italia’ featuring model Kristen McMenam.
An image from the ‘Water & Oil’ spread by Steven Meisel, inspired by the oil spill
An image from the ‘Water & Oil’ spread by Steven Meisel, inspired by the oil spill

Dean Gray

IT is a case of art imitating life on the current cover of 'Vogue Italia'. The photographs by Steven Meisel feature controversial model Kristen McMenamy.

The issue includes this spread titled 'Water & Oil' inspired by the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the environmental fallout.

The evocative shoot, with its dystopian portrayal of a world choking on its own excesses, has a hidden menace which would not have been out of place in the Gulf yesterday, where approaching storms forced crews to suspend drilling the final stretch of a relief well.

It is hoped that the well will finally bring an end to the ecological nightmare.

The intention is to fix a permanent underground plug into BP's damaged well, according to the government's point man for the disaster, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is in charge of the US side of the clean-up.

However, last night Adm Allen said the suspension could mean a delay of two or three days in completing the relief well, one of the last steps toward ending any threat from the well that spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil over three months before a temporary cap sealed it in mid-July.

Drilled

Crews will pop in a temporary plug to keep what they've drilled so far safe, but they won't send workers back to land.

They have about nine metres left to drill. No oil has spilled since the temporary cap was mounted on top of the broken well and closed last month.

The new well is meant to allow BP to pump mud and cement into the broken one from deep underground for a so-called 'bottom kill', a permanent seal that would complement a mud and cement plug injected into the top of the well last week.

Adm Allen has insisted for days that BP go ahead with the bottom kill, even though the top plug appeared to be holding. Yesterday, though, he said testing still needed to be done on the well before a final decision is made.

"I don't want to prejudge whether we are going to do it or not going to do it. It will be conditions-based."

He later assigned a "very low probability" to the bottom kill not being done, but then said: "We will let everybody know if that changes."

Adm Allen also said officials were removing some boom that had been put out to catch oil in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. He said the boom would be put in storage and be available for future use, if necessary.

Irish Independent

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