After fracking company sponsors museum, activists threaten symbolic “poisoning” of artwork

By Natalie Bochenski / Sydney Morning Herald

An anti-fracking activist group will “poison” a major work at the Gallery of Modern Art to protest its sponsorship by Santos.

Generation Alpha said Heritage, which features 99 animals gathered around a blue water pond, showed exactly the kind of environment that the natural resources company would ruin.

Spokesman Ben Pennings said it was “beyond ironic” that Santos would sponsor the Falling Back to Earth exhibit.

“Fracking involves dozens of poisonous chemicals that threaten water tables and water-poisoning accidents are a regular part of Santos’ business,” he said.

A Santos GLNG spokesman said Generation Alpha’s claims were incorrect.

“Natural gas from coal seams has been produced safely and sustainably in Queensland for 20 years. Santos GLNG’s activities comply with Queensland legislation, which is some of the toughest in the world, with six pieces of legislation and four government agencies regulating water issues alone,” he said.

Generation Alpha has called on GOMA to cancel the Santos GLNG Family Fun Day this weekend and withdraw from the sponsorship arrangement altogether.

“We will target them ’til they do,” Mr Pennings said.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the Family Fun Day, which will feature guided tours of the exhibit, lectures, face-painting and other activities.

“We have inside information about how we can symbolically ‘poison’ the water while not damaging the artwork,” Mr Pennings said.

“On top of that, it will look great. The crowds will love it!”

He said Generation Alpha, which has 43,000 fans on Facebook, wrote to Cai Guo-Qiang one month ago describing the sponsorship deal as unethical, and at odds with the message of Cai’s work that the environment be respected.

The Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art issued a statement saying it supported the right for groups like Generation Alpha to peacefully protest in a way that doesn’t interfere with visitors’ experience or artwork safety.

However, QAGOMA has no intention of ending its sponsorship agreement with Santos.

“Santos’ five year partnership with the Gallery is the most significant single corporate investment in the Gallery’s history, and has supported our summer exhibition series and our Children’s Art Centre,” the statement read.

A Santos spokesman said Santos operated its business “safely and responsibility” in accordance with Queensland’s regulatory framework.

“As an Australian company that has been part of the Queensland community for over 50 years, we are pleased to share the benefits of a world-class gas industry with the community through contributions including our five-year support of QAGOMA,” he said.

From Sydney Morning Herald:

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