Here are a selection of images from my photobook The Gift. The book also contains a short story you can read chapter by chapter here and here. See how the work was presented at exhibitio here.

The work is the result of a summer of ethnographic fieldwork in and around the town of Williston, North Dakota. This region is part of the Bakken, an oil rich geological formation that has recently provided the conditions for an oil boom and, with it, the dreams of American independence from foreign oil supplies.

Yet that meta-political view held little interest for me.

Instead, my concern revolved around the lived experience of migrants who arrive in the Bakken hoping for a fresh start. I attempted to understand how the hopes and dreams of new arrivals were projected onto the landscape and how that landscape simultaneously appeared as promise and threat. For, while giving people a fresh start and the promise of a better future, the unstable nature of the commodity form – here, oil – means that relocating to a boom region represents a dangerous leap of faith: things might not work out; the boom might tail off; workplace accidents are common; family and friends are absent; rates of drug and alcohol abuse are high.

Through interviewing and spending time with local people associated with the oil boom I created three fictional charachters, Fitz, Pig-Dog, and Belladonna through whom I explored the precariousness of living in an environment dependent on fluctuations in global oil price. I also photographed the landscape and urban visual vernacular. 

- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
- Michael Thomason -
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