London Indymedia

Call for creative responses to Shell's 'Oedipus'

Kent | 11.10.2008 17:50 | Climate Chaos | Culture | Iraq | London

Shell is sponsoring the National Theatre's new production of 'Oedipus',and, unsurprisingly, Art Not Oil is preparing a response on variousfronts. We're asking people if they're up for making an artwork of some kind as a response. This could be an image, song, film or poem to appear on our website, or to be printed on a postcard or something similar. We're open to ideas. (Unfortunately, we aren't able to pay for your work, but we have no wish to possess it!)
If this is of interest, we'd love to see it as soon as possible, as 'Oedipus' runs until January 2009 only.


Food for thought can be found in the Shell's Wild Lie gallery:

Let us know if you'd like some quotes from the play to help get a sense of
their production, or a more detailed Shell critique.

If this isn't for you, how about letting us have any work you think may
fit the bill for the 2009 Art Not Oil online gallery? Also, we're looking
for help with our website, and designers for a book we're putting together
about the project so far.At the bottom please find news of a new song 'Shell Sells Suicide' by the Carbon Town Cryer, a new poem and other responses as they emerge.

Thanks and good luck,

Us at ANO


This is what the NT says: 'The people of Thebes look to Oedipus to lift a
terrible curse from them and their city. He consults the oracle and learns
that he must root out the late king’s murderer. But his relentless
interrogation of one man after another leads inexorably, and in the space
of a single day, to his own savage conclusion...You are who you are
seeking to find.'

This is taken from Wikipedia:

Oedipus (pronounced /__d_p_s/ in American English or /_i_d_p_s/ in British
English; Greek: ____π___ Oidípous meaning "swollen-footed") was a
mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would
kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his
city and family. This legend has been retold in many versions, and was
used by Sigmund Freud to name the Oedipus complex.

This is the letter we sent to those involved with the production:


I’m part of a group of climate activists that is very concerned at the way
oil companies appear to be using sponsorship of major cultural
institutions to divert public attention from their complicity in the
climate crisis. We have been campaigning since 2004 for art and oil no
longer to be seen to be compatible, using a combination of direct action,
lobbying and our own grassroots exhibitions.

This year we were very heartened to hear that our ‘Shell’s Wild Lie’
campaign had paid off, and that Shell was no longer to be the sponsor of
the Natural History Museum’s ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’
exhibition. But remaining complacent was hardly an option, as Shell in
particular was moving its sponsorship activities well into overdrive,
focussing its attentions on pumping money into its neighbours on the South
Bank, including the production of ‘Oedipus’ that you’re currently a part

Sometimes when we’re out campaigning on the oil sponsorship issue, people
praise what they see as the companies’ generosity in putting money into
the arts. Our response is to ask what those companies are getting in
return for that outlay, and – if it is an enhanced reputation - whether
they deserve it.

Both Shell and BP are still heavily implicated in producing ever-greater
quantities of the oil and gas that are destabilising our climate to such
an alarming degree. Climate change is set to wipe out millions of plant
and animal species and to devastate the poorest regions of the planet.
Shell and BP’s activities also result in oil spills which are major causes
of death and destruction for many varieties of life. Shell’s planned
refinery and pipeline project in County Mayo, Ireland, threatens a
pristine ecosystem, not to mention the homes and livelihoods of the
inhabitants. It is poised to drill in the newly-melted waters of the
Chukchi Sea off Alaska. It is still burning off unwanted gas in the Niger
Delta, making local people’s lives a living hell. Lastly, it is currently
constructing a massive development at Sakhalin Island in Russia which is
threatening the survival of the Western Pacific Grey Whale. You can find a
detailed critique of Shell’s activities following this letter…

As part of our campaign, we've put together a 'Shell's Wild Lie'
counter-exhibition, which paints what we hope is a truer portrait of Shell
and of wider impacts of climate change on people and wildlife. We've taken
it around the UK as well as to the gates of the Natural History Museum.
It's also up online at

I’d like to make it clear that our campaign isn’t about standing in
judgement over artists who find themselves caught in the crossfire of
climate chaos-era oil industry public relations. What we’re asking is that
– if you haven’t already done so - you make yourself aware of the issues,
and consider whether there’s anything you can do, individually or
collectively, to turn this situation around. It does seem that events –
geopolitical, social, economic, ecological and climatic – are coming to a
head, and that now is possibly the last chance we have to come together
and stand up for justice and a liveable future. (I hope you’ll forgive the
melodramatic tone, but that really does seem to be where we’re at in
September 2008.)

It would be good to hear any feedback you may have, and we would also be
keen to know if you have any advice as to how we might make oil companies
unwelcome in our major cultural institutions, while ensuring a ‘just
transition’ for people working in them towards jobs that no longer rely on
fossil fuelled support.

- e-mail:
- Homepage:


Display the following 2 comments

  1. 'Shell Sells Suicide' now posted — Carbon Town Cryer
  2. A poetical word in your Shell-like... — Sophie Cleese


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