On Monday 13th of March 2018, art-activist collective ‘Libérons le Louvre’ staged a theatrical performance inside the Louvre museum in Paris in protest of the museum’s sponsorship deal with oil and gas company Total.
In a choreography of bodies falling to the ground, the artivists drew attention to people around the world whose livelihoods are destroyed and who are being forced to leave their home because of the worsening climate crisis as a result of Total’s operations. Once on the ground, the performers refused to leave the room, blocking several entrances of the museum for more than 2 hours.
Staging this performance in front of painting The Raft of the Medusa, depicting the survivors of a shipwreck holding on to their lives, is deliberate: the painting brings to mind the terrible images of displaced people of the 21st century.
“The proposed bill on immigration and asylum is currently being discussed in the French parliament, and so we wanted to highlight the fact that more and more people are being forced into exile, as the effects of climate change increase. It’s easy to identify the initial victims of climate change and we must denounce the culprits: fossil-fuel multinationals such as Total in France. Our performance is inspired by our duty of solidarity and empathy towards these victims” explained Kester, one of the members of the collective.
No new fossil projects is the red line of the Paris agreement, but one example among the large acquisitions underway, the largest investment of Total at present is a mega gas project in the Arctic. Total’s activities are incompatible with the objectives set at COP21, and with the Louvre public missions of conserving our artistic heritage. By refusing to take a stand against the danger posed by Total’s activities, the Louvre helps to legitimize them.
“The situation is urgent. This is why we’ve stepped up our action, by forcing the museum to react, and literally evacuate and block the room and several entrances for more than 2 hours.” said Alejandra, from the Libérons le Louvre collective. “We will carry on staging performances until the Louvre ends its partnership with Total. It’s totally unacceptable that the museum enables Total to project a veneer of virtue, through its sponsorship and investment in arts and culture, while at the same time the company continues to put lives and ecosystems at risk, throughout the world. This partnership cannot be reconciled with the museum’s stated public mission and moral responsibility.”
The Louvre’s role is to connect civilisations and cultures, and is a centre for learning. Libérons le Louvre criticises the museum’s partnership with Total, in complete contradiction with its educational mission to forge links between past civilisations and present and future generations.
On the back of similar art-activism campaigns, several cultural institutions have already severed their links with the fossil fuel industry, such as the Tate Gallery in London, the Edinburgh Festival, and the American Museum of National History. Other prestigious museums around the world are also being targeted, such as the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
We are convinced that together we will succeed in putting the Louvre in the face of this contradiction. The Paris based ‘Libérons le Louvre’ collective is committed to carry on with actions until the Louvre ends its partnership with Total. Can you sign and share the petition ?