May 15, 2018

Shells Everywhere

Today, artist collective Fossil Free Culture NL hid 410 shells inside the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Each shell marked with a hand painted, black, oil-like stain. With this installation, the artists aim to expose the hidden influence fossil fuel companies such as Royal Dutch Shell purchase into our cultural institutions.
The 411 shells represent the average concentration of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere today, which in April this year topped 411 parts per million. This is 61 more than our planet and our life support systems can sustain and is expected to have a catastrophic effect. By hiding these stained shells inside the museum, the artists denounce Shell’s responsibility in causing climate change, and the complicit role of the Van Gogh Museum for sanitising Shell’s public image and facilitating the social license they so badly need to continue operating.

Exactly one year ago, the artists that took part in the Drop The Shell performance* inside the Van Gogh Museum were released from prison, after the disproportionately punitive response the museum’s security staff directed against this peaceful creative criticism.

Maria Rietberg of Fossil Free Culture NL: “Two weeks ago we printed Shell’s dirty hands on the glass façade of the Museum to show the poisoned relationship between art, Shell and the Van Gogh Museum. Today, to mark the anniversary of the Drop the Shell performance, we have infiltrated the museum, echoing Shell’s tried and tested strategy to influence public opinion, and placed our stained shells everywhere to expose the climate-wrecking company. We challenge the Museum’s security staff to find the shells and rid Shell’s toxic influence, because no art can survive climate change when cultural institutions accept fossil fuel sponsorships, and ignore the irreversible impacts of this industry.”

The installation Shell’s Everywhere is a statement of solidarity with Dutch environmental organization Milieudefensie, that announced on 4 April that they will take Shell to court for their business plans that actively sabotage the Paris Climate agreement goals. Milieudefensie calls on all Dutch people to become co-plaintiffs in this lawsuit.

Note to the editor:

Fossil Free Culture NL is a collective of artists, activists, researchers and critics working at the intersection of art and climate activism. Our goal is to confront oil and gas sponsorship of public cultural institutions in the Netherlands. We are committed to eroding the fossil fuel industry’s social legitimacy and their resultant license to operate.

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Title: Shells Everywhere
Photo credit: Fossil Free Culture NL