Sunday, February 04, 2007

Art Attack: Activists Target Shell Sponsored Art at Natural History Museum

Knowing my readers, and i don't, this may be controversial. The following is an attack in London on a group of photographs in a gallery sponsored by Shell. The photos, as you can see are undamaged as they are behind glass.

Perhaps never going to be a success in PR terms this action certainly leads to the question of how far you can go to make a point. Watch the clip an i`ll continue my thoughts bellow.

First of all, i think it is fair to say that in terms of getting a message across this was always going to be difficult or near impossible. The chances of communicating with the artists and pressurising the gallery, are perhaps somewhat greater.

Now as to weather or not i support this action. I will start by providing some background for shell. Currently, my two most significant grievances against shell are, there operations in Nigeria and there LNG plant on Barrow island, off the coast of Australia. Since oil production came to Nigeria the per capita GDP has decreased, gas flaring was illigalised after a powerful fight by the local people, a fight that lead to Shell having Ken Saro-Wiwa murdered. Gas flaring, although now illegal still continues. This damages the climate (over 2 billion cubic feet of gas are flared per day!), it destroys crops, wildlife and health with dioxins, benzene and other carcinogens. I wrote about gas flaring here.

Barrow island in Australia has been described as Australia's' Galapagos Islands, many of the species are endemic or threatened on the mainland. The site was classified 1a by the IUCN and according to this status should be used largely for scientific research and monitoring. Shell are partners in one of the worlds largest construction projects that is being built on this pristine wilderness. A project that, for a slight increase in expenditure could be carried out on the mainland.

Simultaneously, Shell are investing in renewables, all be it on a small scale, and they are investing somewhat more heavily in greenwash...buying environmental credibility by association with projects such as the Natural History Museums' wildlife photography.

I believe that such rank hypocrisy desperately needs to be exposed, the gallery and the artists will at the very least have to look into why there is such commited opposition to this very lucrative arrangement. Finally, i will point out that the protest although messy is both non violent and non-destructive with regards the artwork.

Comments please...!

Friends of the Earth email action
WWF Barrow Island email action

Backgroud Reading:
Report on Gas Flaring in Nigeria
Article on Barrow Island

The 'Art Attack':
Indymedia Story
Tragic History Musuem

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Climate Change Action

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