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Brandalism at COP21
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Over 600 artworks critiquing the corporate takeover of the COP21 climate talks were installed in advertising spaces across Paris over the weekend, ahead of the United Nations summit that begins today (Monday 30 November).

ArtCOP21 – a global festival of cultural activity on climate change

Consumerism and climate change

A French state of emergency means all public gatherings have been banned following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November.

Still, the ‘Brandalism’ project worked with Parisians to insert unauthorised artworks across the city, highlighting the links between advertising, consumerism, fossil fuel dependency and climate change.

Brandalism has previously organised two of the world’s largest subvertising campaigns across different cities in the UK (in 2012 and 2014), involving prominent artists such as Ron English, Robert Montgomery and Paul Insect.


The takeover

The artworks were placed in advertising spaces owned by JC Decaux – one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising firms and an official sponsor to the COP21 climate talks.

Other prominent corporate sponsors of the climate talks such as AirFrance, GDF Suez (Engie) and
Dow Chemicals are parodied in the posters, and heads of state such as Francois Hollande, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Shinzo Abi also feature.

‘Following the tragic events on 13 November in Paris, the government has chosen to ban the big civil society mobilisations – but big business events can continue.

‘The multinationals responsible for climate change can keep greenwashing their destructive business models, but the communities directly impacted by them are silenced.

‘It’s now more important than ever to call out their lies and speak truth to power. We call on people to take to the streets during the COP21 to confront the fossil fuel industry. We cannot leave the climate talks in the hands of politicians and corporate lobbyists who created this mess in the first place.’

Bill Posters, Brandalism


The role of advertising

The artworks were created by over 80 renowned artists from 19 countries across the world, including Neta Harari, Jimmy Cauty, Banksy collaborator Paul Insect, Escif and Kennard Phillips – many of whom featured at Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition in England this summer.

‘By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France and GDF-Suez-Engie can promote themselves as part of the solution – when actually they are part of the problem.

‘We are taking their spaces back because we want to challenge the role advertising plays in promoting unsustainable consumerism. Because the advertising industry force feeds our desires for products created from fossil fuels, they are intimately connected to causing climate change.

‘As is the case with the climate talks and their corporate sponsored events, outdoor advertising ensures that those with the most money are able to ensure that their voices get heard above all else.’

Joe Elan, Brandalism


Black Friday, No Ad Day

The artworks were installed on ‘Black Friday’ – or ‘Vendredi Noir’ – the most hectic and competitive shopping day of the year. The same day – 27 November – is also ‘No Ad Day’, an artist-led initiative that seeks to remove ads from public spaces across the world.

Other posters called on people to take to the streets as part of the ‘Climate Games’ – the world’s largest disobedient adventure game – as well as protesting the ‘Solutions 21’ conference, a large corporate exposition that’s being held at the Grand Palais during the climate talks.

‘The United Nations 21st ‘Conference of Parties’ meeting taking place this December is supposed to agree a global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

‘Yet in 20 years of UN climate change talks, global emissions have risen by 63%. Increasingly, these talks are dominated by corporate interests. This year’s talks in Paris are being held at an airport and sponsored by an airline. Other major polluters include energy companies, car manufacturers and banks.

‘Brandalism aims to creatively expose this corporate greenwashing.’



Click here to find out more about Brandalism and its campaigns.

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