Matéa LeBeau 


hand poked tattoos
in Ithaca, NY


What Remains

9/20 - 9/24, 2021, Tjaden Experimental Gallery, Cornell University, Ithaca NY

What Remains is a personal exploration of extinction in the context of climate change. Through the use and depiction of archaic technologies, petroleum based materials, photography, and printmaking, the works in this show highlight the nature of extinction as a current contemplation. As nature coexists with abandoned oil infrastructure and integrates its iron remains into the landscape, one can't help but be reminded that the earth will carry on, with or without us. Reckoning with the long-term, concealed, and deeply integrated influence of the oil industry, What Remains invites you to imagine a world post fossil fuels.

Four Urban Oil Fields, 2021

Screen prints on nylon curtain and trash bags

5’ x 5’

Originally celebrated for their discrete integration into the urban landscape, four oil rigs reside in Los Angeles, hiding in plain sight.  A windowless office building, a fake synagogue, a “Tower of Hope” and a shopping mall – these “buildings” are blatant manifestations of domestic colonialism and of the slow violence having been perpetuated on California residents for over 100 years. These four physical sites continue Los Angeles’s history as a hub for oil production, consumption, pollution, and facade.

Refrain on Quilted Paper, 2021

Lithograph prints on cardstock, thread

7’ x 8’

Ghost of Drake Well, 2021

Wood, nylon fabric

50” x 27” x 45”

A reflection on the exterior of Drake Well, the first commercial oil well in the U.S. widely regarded as the birthplace of the modern petroleum industry. Built in 1859 in Pennsylvania, Drake Well stands today decommissioned and rebuilt from its original form as a monument, museum, and tourist attraction.  The artist’s rendition of the well reflects the haunting feeling she was left with after visiting this historical site in person. 

Funded in part by the Gibian-Rosewater Traveling Research Award

Backslide, 2021

Slide projector, 35mm slides

Slides 1, 2, 3, 9, 17, 18

Thompsons Oil Field, Texas

Slides 4, 5, 15

Abandoned oil infrastructure in rural Ohio

Slides 6, 7, 14, 16

Abandoned oil infrastructure in Oil Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

Site of the world’s first commercial oil field.

Slides 8, 19, 20

On the road in West Texas

Slides 10, 11, 12, 13

Boehmer Lake, Texas

Unnatural body of water continually fed by an orphaned oil well, drilled into the San Andres Aquifer roughly half a century ago by wildcatters.  Named Boehmer “Lake,” this body of water emits a nauseating smell, surrounded by dead vegetation encased in salt crystals.  It is now a slow land sink disturbing a country road and threatening the ground water in Pecos County, Texas.

Funded in Part by the Gibian-Rosewater Traveling Research Award