Beyond Insanity

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Creative performance in Van Gogh Museum protests sponsorship by Shell

This afternoon, September 16th at 14:00 p.m. Fossil Free Culture NL (FFC) staged a disobedient performance at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to protest the irrational relationship between Shell and a public art institution.

Beyond Insanity shows how the sponsorship by Shell intoxicates the arts. Four men dressed as hospital patients walked into the entrance hall of the museum. At the background, a large screen displayed the title of the temporary exhibition: “On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh and His Illness”. One patient stood attached to an intravenous infusion, a black substance intoxicated his body. The second patient suffered from heavy petroleum poisoning drooling oil out of his month, another couldn’t hold his black tears totally depressed by the toxic cultural partnership, while the fourth wandered hopelessly around the hall, dripping oil out of his wrists, after a suicidal attempt.

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“Through the “Partners in Science” program, the Van Gogh Museum allows Shell to create the illusion that the company contributes to society positively. While in reality, the extraction of fossil fuels causes ecosystems depletion, undermines the livelihoods and well-being of communities, and is the primary driver of runaway climate change.” – Fossil Free Culture NL

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The exhibition “On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh and His Illness” examines the artist’s mental illness through paintings and drawings from his final year, including the many diagnoses put forward by doctors over the years. With the performance Beyond Insanity, FFC wrote its own diagnosis: “The nature of Shell’s activities is toxic and destructive to all life systems on earth”. 

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Fossil Free Culture NL is a recently formed group of artists, activists, researchers and critics that challenge oil and gas sponsorships in order to liberate Dutch cultural institutions from the sick influence of the fossil fuel industry. They are the first artist/activist collective that uses art as a tool to protest against big corporate polluters in the Netherlands. The aim is to regularly perform unofficially and unannounced in cultural institutions sponsored by the fossil fuel industry.

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