Valery Lyman Geology Dept. Colloquium (9/28/18)

Valery Lyman

Filmmaker Valery Lyman discussed her work in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota where she documented the lives of the people working there during the oil boom.

This event was hosted by the Geography Dept. and was open to the public Throughout the semester, the Department of Geography runs a Colloquium Series thematically tied to research and issues of a geographical nature but intended to attract faculty, staff and students from across the disciplines.

Image of a long oil train

Lyman discussed how she initially came to North Dakota because of her interest in historic boom towns and what could be learned from these remains. She showed photographs she had taken of "man camps," fraking and drilling sites, social activities, infrastructure development, and oil trains. She noted the similarities and parallels between the lives of the people who came to get the oil out of the ground, and those of the people who came later to protest the building of the Dakota XL pipeline to take the oil away. 

Lyman's photos and sound recordings have become part of an installation called "Breaking Ground."

Valery Lyman and photo of trucks pumping water into a well at a braking site

Lyman spent the past 5 years photographing and recording the sights and sounds of life in the Bakken region of North Dakota documenting the rise of the oil industry there and the massive migration that went along with it. Hers is the most comprehensive visual/aural archive of this time and place in American history. She used the material collected to create an immersive art experience called “Breaking Ground,” in which she projects the images against industrial relics as ambient sounds play in the background.

During her CAI residency, Lyman delved into the history of Buffalo, including its old steel mills, factories, grain elevators, locks and other leftovers from the city’s industrial past. The new footage will be incorporated into the artist’s collection of boom-and-bust images will be part of future iterations of "Breaking Ground."