'Artist stages intervention at Shell-sponsored climate exhibition'

Taken from the Morning Star, 12.9.22:


Artist Darren Cullen challenged an exhibition sponsored by Shell at London’s Science Museum by staging an “impromptu intervention” on Friday.

Mr Cullen, who goes by the alias Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives, installed works at the Our Future Planet exhibition, satirising the oil giant’s messaging through guerilla-style “subvertising.”

The exhibition claims to feature “solutions” to the climate crisis, with an emphasis on carbon capturing — a process that promises to reduce emissions by trapping and burying CO2.

A plaque installed by Cullen pointed out that 81 per cent of all captured carbon had in fact been pumped back into oil wells, underlining that such technology is mainly used by fossil fuel companies and could extend the life of its infrastructure. 

Another work included a carbon-captured body bag “ideal for processing the millions of corpses” resulting from the use of fossil fuels. According to Mr Cullen, the work played on the exhibition’s theme of how captured carbon can be turned into products.

On why he decided to intervene, Mr Cullen said: “The Science Museum under Ian Blatchford has had an disturbingly close relationship with fossil fuel companies sponsoring their shows, from Shell to BP, Equinor and Adani.” 

The artist maintained that it was ideological, rather than pragmatic, referring to a Financial Times quote in which Mr Blatchford said: “Even if the Science Museum was lavishly publicly funded I would still want to have sponsorship from the oil companies.”

“I think greenwashing is one of the largest obstacles we face. There is so much money and marketing expertise being used in obfuscating the problems and inventing fake solutions that ignore the core issue — that we need to stop fossil fuel extraction and transition our economy to renewables as soon as humanly possible.“

Climate activists have staged several protests demanding the exhibition’s closure since its opening a year ago.

The Science Musuem has signed a gagging clause with Shell, agreeing not to say anything that could damage the company’s reputation. The exhibition is due to close its doors today.