Van Gogh Museum drops Royal Dutch Shell!

Here is a powerful idea whose time has come:

Yet history only advances piecemeal; some cling to the past to destroy the future, while others come from the future to destroy the present. Fossil fuel companies are doing all they can to stop the passing time. We are a threat to their status-quo, because we come from the future.

Sometimes rock-solid foundations melt away and tectonic shifts propel us towards forward. Suddenly a new idea emerges and makes age-old and all-mighty façades appear obsolete. Some may resist change, but history eventually catches up.

Such was the challenge we posed to cultural institutions. They would either choose comfort, prestige and establishment and forgo all credibility, or they would embrace change and stand in the right side of history. We left them with no choice but to take sides.

We argued that Van Gogh Museum had to side with climate justice and refuse Royal Dutch Shell‘s sponsorship. We were told there was nothing wrong with their collaboration and that their partnership was scientific, ethical and sustainable.

They are proven wrong. We are now vindicated. They may claim our actions had nothing to do with the end of their deal, but we know better. Hard to maintain a relationship with a toxic lover that nobody likes. Better to dump them and move on.

There is no shortage of struggles between right and wrong so starkly juxtaposed. What made Fossil Free Culture NL achieve this victory only two years after its inception is its dedication to creatively and strategically engage in disobedience. It brought the crisis home, where dissent was neither expected nor tolerated. It transformed the museum space, once unconcerned and unaffected by climate chaos, into a stage to perform, experience and expose fear, anger and grief in face of catastrophe.

What lessons can be drawn from its experience? And perhaps most importantly: where do we go next? We have certainly no time left to wait for the dust to settle. We are already on our way to join Code Rood to put an end to gas extraction in Groningen. We remain full of resolve and passion to pursue our creative and disruptive interventions until Shell is no more.


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