DID YOU HEAR?
It is the sound of your world collapsing.
It is that of ours rising anew.
The day that was the day, used to be night.
And night will be the day, that will be the day.
– Subcomandante Marcos
The Groninger Museum claims to be a cultural foundation upon which the connections between visitors are strengthened1. In sharp contrast to this noble sentiment, the museum provides ongoing reputational services to corporations that are responsible for destroying the foundations of many buildings in the province. Gasunie and Gasterra, former daughters of the NAM, are companies dedicated to the extraction of fossil gas. This practice has damaged houses, farms, and churches that are home to over 170,000 people of the region. In the wake of this rumbling, local communities have been left in a perpetual state of uncertainty and fear. As an attempt to clean up their image, Gasunie and Gasterra continuously make financial contributions to the Groninger Museum. By supporting the Museum, these fossil fuel companies try to paint themselves as caring for the community of Groningen, but they cannot sweep under the carpet their complicity in breaking up the ground beneath it.
We refuse to accept this blatant misuse of our artistic institutions, and believe that it is time for an artistic intervention. With the projection of a giant crack across the front of the museum’s Golden Hall on Friday, 28 January 2022, Fossil Free Culture NL (FFCNL) announces the Groninger Museum as the new focus of the group’s attention. We have a clear message for the Groninger Museum: it is time to break up with GasTerra and Gasunie. By presenting a false image of cultural patronage for these companies, the Museum helps them hide their destructive effects. Time to flip the night to day, and bring what was previously buried in the shadowed backroom of the board right up to the surface of the Museum. Let’s paint the true picture there for everyone to see: as long as the Groninger Museum keeps accepting fossil fuel sponsorship, it betrays its visitors.
“It is the sound of your world collapsing” – the line projected next to the crack stems from a poem by Subcomandante Marcos, spokesperson for the EZLN, also known as the Zapatistas. The Zapatistas are an Indigenous insurgency group from the Mexican region of Chiapas, active since the 1990s. We stand in solidarity with their struggle and their fight for justice, as we fight together against the myriad ways in which corporate systems exploit our lands and render them uninhabitable. We join them in the effort to break apart this exploitative system and build in its cracks a sustainable environment.
FFCNL urges the Groninger Museum to understand that the collapse of the world as we know it is already in progress. The decision is theirs: will they use these cracks to open up space for a more just world, or will they continue to align with those that want to break it even further apart?
As a frontline community, Groningen has experienced more than a thousand earthquakes in the last 40 years, due to the rupturing effects of fossil fuel extraction. The Museum, too, has already felt these tremors. Fossil fuel companies have shaken the foundations of this province for long enough, now it is time for a different kind of rumble.
1Groninger Museum. Mission Statement. Retrieved on December 2021 from
All photos by Laura Ponchel