Today (4.5.18), 13 performers from artist collective Fossil Free Culture NL placed oil-black handprints on the glass facade of the Van Gogh Museum to remind the institution that dirty money from oil giant Shell stains our culture.
Shell sponsors numerous cultural institutions in the Netherlands, among them Van Gogh Museum, in an effort to clean their public image. This is known as ‘artwashing’. In this way the company strives to present themselves as benefactors of the arts, rather than the human rights violators and desecrators of the planet that they in fact are. It is their hope that with such sponsorships they will secure a social license to continue operations as usual, in place of setting the urgently needed course for a clean energy future. Maria Rietberg of Fossil Free Culture NL: "The Van Gogh Museum is taking part in polishing the image of the fossil fuel industry. Allowing themselves and our cultural heritage to be associated with a climate-killing corporation. We call on the Van Gogh Museum to stop accepting money from an organization that knowingly vandalizes our planet. Drop Shell.”
The performance of Fossil Free Culture 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.