"Large Oil Bubble" in Karamay

The Relics of Empire: Resource Extraction and the Making of Modern Xinjiang

"Large Oil Bubble" in Karamay

“Large Oil Bubble” (Dayoupao) is situated above the relics of Karamay’s Number 1 Well. In June 1955, the 1219 Youth Drilling Team (Qingnian Zuanjingdui) began extraction at the site, and on October 29, the first gusher bloomed over the steppe. The metal sculpture is surrounded by various monuments to Karamay and its oil history, including a massive square inscribed with the date of Karamay’s first gusher. Completed in 2013, “Large Oil Bubble” is supposed to represent the oil bubbles that emanate from the various oil springs around Karamay. This piece of “environmental art,” as described in official literature, has attracted some unwanted attention, as its striking resemblance to Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” in Chicago (popularly known as “The Bean”) has led to the threat of a lawsuit.