On July 18 2022, during the first service of the H.N. Werkmanbrug at museum island, a typographic artwork addresses the Groninger Museum: It’s time to break up with gas. It is the third time this year that Fossil Free Culture NL has publicly called on the museum to reconsider its position in the climate discourse. The director of the Groninger Museum has said that building bridges with the fossil fuel industry is necessary for a viable future. FFCNL argues that this semi-green sentiment obscures a dark reality. According to the action group, accepting gas money contributes to social acceptance for the continuation of the exploiting gas industry. Nobody benefits from that. The activists fight against art washing through artistic interventions.
FFCNL believes that artists, cultural workers and institutions play a crucial role in countering the climate crisis and therefore wants to end the influence of the fossil fuel industry in the cultural sector. So to burn one’s bridges. Maria Rietbergen, spokesperson for FFCNL: “Large and important institutions must make explicit and transparent choices. Our wish: May the choices made by the Groninger Museum light the way to a better future. The museum can literally create space by stopping polishing the image of gas companies. For criticism and also for the imagination of an alternative future. One in which the fossil fuel industry plays no role. The climate clock is ticking. It’s time to break up with gas.”
The placement of a typographic art installation under the H.N Werkmanbrug is the third action of Fossil Free Culture Groningen. On January 9th, they projected a massive crack on the iconic golden tower with the text “It is the sound of your world collapsing”. and on April 8, they staged a performance at the invitation of artist Marit Westerhuis at the opening of her exposition Megalith. Now it’s a life-size banner underneath the Werkmanbrug reading: May the bridges you burn light the way forward / It’s time to break up with gas. What this third action has in common with the previous one is that the action group reminds the museum of its accountability. Rietbergen explains: “We invite the museum to make an ethical choice. For the community, for the planet’s future and out of self-awareness and self-esteem. We love the Groninger Museum, but how can the cultural sector actually relate seriously and critically to the climate crisis, when it is sponsored by those who caused this crisis and refuse to solve it? GM should no longer allow herself to be used as a marketing tool.” A local group of FFCNL in Groningen has been active and growing since the beginning of 2022. They confront the Groninger Museum with the role they should play in imagining a better future. “And that starts with the refusal of the ‘artwashing’ of those chiefly responsible for consumption, destruction and pollution. We once again emphasize to the museum that the climate crisis is now.” says Rietbergen.