Musical Invasion in Protest of Shell Greenwash
At the National Gallery, London
On October 16th, DANCE joined several groups from within the Art Not Oil coalition in a protest against Shell’s sponsorship of the Rembrandt exhibition at the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square in London. Following on from the ‘musical invasion’ at the gallery earlier in the week, this event was to convey loud and clear the environmental damage caused by Shell and to protest against the National Gallery’s ‘greenwashing’ of Shell’s dirty deeds. The activists were also standing in solidarity with workers at the National Gallery who are currently taking action against the gallery’s plans to privatise two thirds of its workforce.
The protest took place on the evening of a ‘gala evening’ hosted by Shell at the gallery. As guests (including the Shell UK chairman and the MP Greg Barker, former Minister for Energy and Climate Change and now Cameron’s ‘Climate Envoy’) arrived at the gallery, they were met by vocal dissent from a 50+ strong crowd/choir of banner-carrying activists. Accompanied by guitar and speakers, the music surrounded the building; prompting some guests to look out on the singing protesters. A group performed a mini-version of the Faustus inspired performance staged by BP or not BP? earlier in the week, viewed both by arriving guests and people passing by on a busy Trafalgar Square.
The semi-improvised format created a playful, energetic atmosphere – the use of familiar songs with a Shell-twist, written by Shell Out Sounds, catching people’s attention.
I dreamed we’d seen the earth before
It was green, and it pleased us all,
But you don’t really care for humans, do ya?
Chanting, rapping, clapping… ’Don’t let Shell re-brand Rembrandt!’- giving way to reflections on why we were there, bearing witness. Some voiced, others written down on small notes attached to a pole outside the museum, leaving a visible testament to our prayer for change.
It was was deeply nourishing, powerful – and fun. Great too to meet new friends across the Art Not Oil coalition – feeling a strong momentum and energy for sustained action. Thanks to fellow activists who came and made the evening special!