Greenpeace’s Save the Artic campaign has partnered with award winning British creative agency Don’t Panic to create its next video targeting oil giant Shell and its plans to drill in the icy waters of the US Alaskan Artic this summer.
Directed by Partizan’s Martin Stirling – who also directed LEGO: Everything is NOT Awesome – the video features works by famous British montage artists kennardphillips and shows three iconic landscape artworks burning away to expose jarring dystopian replacements. In the new artworks, the scenes have been transformed by Shell’s drilling infrastructure, devastating oil spills and explosions. It gives the viewer a powerful sense of what Shell risks by drilling in the Arctic.
The famous artworks torched by Shell include ‘Pearblossom Highway’ by David Hockney, ‘Christina’s World’ by Andrew Wyeth and ‘An Arctic Summer: Boring Through the Pack in Melville Bay’ by William Bradford.
Greenpeace and Don’t Panic’s first film collaboration ‘LEGO: Everything is NOT awesome’ was seen by more than 7 million people on YouTube after it launched in June 2014. In just three months the film helped spur LEGO to end a 50-year marketing relationship with Shell, and made headline news all over the world. It went on to win a prestigious Webby Award in 2015.
Richard Beer, Creative Director of Don’t Panic London, said: ‘Shell’s drilling plans threaten a lot more than just the Arctic. Not only will the inevitable spills be impossible to clean up, but the extra greenhouse gases unlocked by extracting and burning the Arctic’s fossil fuels will hasten the world along its path to a blighted, Mad-Max-like dystopian future.’
‘We wanted to bring this future to life by literally painting it into some of our best-loved and most iconic paintings in collaboration with Peter Kennard and Cat Phillips, who themselves have a long history of artistic protest.
Using art in this way seemed particularly appropriate because of the increasing attention being paid to the way companies like Shell use sponsorship of the Arts to falsely polish their reputations and to give themselves a social license to operate. We thought it was time Art fought back.’
Elena Polisano, Arctic campaigner, Greenpeace, said, ‘Shell could be risking disaster by drilling for oil in Arctic waters in less than six weeks. We made this video to expose that, and show how its plans affect all of us too – because the impact of climate change affects the places we all live in.
‘If Shell drills in the Arctic it could devastate this iconic and beautiful place, and its incredible wildlife, like polar bears and narwhals. All the evidence shows Shell can’t drill for oil safely in the Arctic. The extreme conditions mean its when, not if, a spill will happen. Shell has a huge PR machine behind it, but it didn’t count on millions of ordinary people standing up to protect the Arctic. We need everyone to watch and share the video, to show Shell it won’t get away with destroying the world we love.’
Artist collective kennardphillips, said: ‘We sorted through hundreds of photos of oil accidents. We have superimposed these real oil spills onto the American dream and the pristine icebergs of the Arctic.
‘The poet Shelley wrote that as artists and writers, “we must imagine what we know”. We have tried to imagine through images what we know about oil exploitation. We must imagine what we know about Shell. We know that whatever the consequences to life, they are drilling for one thing – dollars.’
In March, the Obama Administration decided to validate Shell’s drilling lease in the Arctic’s Chutchi Sea, so long as it acquires the right permits, it can start exploratory drilling this July.
But a movement of nearly seven million people is standing up to oppose Shell’s plans. Just over a week ago, ‘kayaktivists’ came together in Seattle for a three day ‘festival of resistance’ and many more protests are expected in the next few months.
Climate change is melting the Arctic sea ice at an alarming rate, and this March the Arctic experienced the lowest sea ice maximum ever recorded. As the ice recedes, it becomes easier for oil companies to reach further into the Arctic and extract vast reserves of oil and gas buried beneath the ocean floor.
But the extreme Arctic conditions, including giant floating ice-bergs and stormy seas, make offshore drilling extremely risky. The US administration itself acknowledged a 75% chance of a large oil spill over the lifetime of the wells. And scientists say that an oil spill in the Arctic would be impossible to clean up, endangering the Arctic’s unique wildlife.
And earlier this year, researchers concluded Arctic drilling is incompatible with limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, a target set by most governments.
Shell’s past attempt to drill in the Arctic in 2012 was plagued with multiple operational failings culminating in the running around of its drill rig, the Kulluk. Shell will return to the remote Chukchi Sea this summer with the same contractor, Noble Drilling, which pled guilty to eight felonies following its last arctic venture.
Watch the video here: