“Would you like to try out our new fragrance?” On the Saturday afternoon of 10 June 2023, Fossil Free Culture Groningen (FFC Groningen) took a stand at the bridge in front of the Groninger Museum to present their new action against the museum’s sponsorship by Gasunie and Gasterra. Interested passersbys could smell the art collective’s new fragrance entitled Complicity, carefully sprayed onto test strips from beautiful golden bottles by four performers. Others handed out small sample bottles of the fragrance at FFC Groningen’s yellow stand, which eerily mimicked the museum.
But not all that glitters is gold: the luxurious bottles stored the sulfurous smell of gas. Complicity is described as an “addictive scent of power, wealth, and luxury” that “encapsulates the force of destruction”, contained in a beautiful bottle and seems to radiate luxury and elegance at first glance. But when you smell its contents, the scent of gas immediately evokes the sense that something is deeply wrong. The museum’s collaboration with Gasunie and Gasterra works in the same way: the museum provides a thin veneer for what ultimately is a dirty business.
The museum contributes to a status quo where fossil fuel industry companies can continue to exert their devastating power. Meanwhile, the art sector could play such a crucial role in presenting critical and creative alternatives. The museum remains intoxicated by the greenwashed lies of the fossil fuel industry, which ultimately only focuses on short-term profit.
With this sixth call to break up with gas, Fossil Free Culture Groningen reminds the museum that a beautiful facade cannot and should not cover up the odor of troubling associations.