Russian artist Leonid Tishkov has demanded that his artworks be removed from a Gazprombank-sponsored exhibition in Vienna in a show of solidarity with the Greenpeace activists who face up to 15 years in jail after trying to scale an Arctic oil rig.
The artworks come from Tishkov's best-known project, Private Moon, a series of photos of a large, illuminated moon in locations around the world including France, Taiwan and the Arctic. In an open letter to the director of the Albertina museum, Tishkov took issue with the fact that the exhibition, Dreaming Russia, has been jointly organised with Gazprombank, founded by the state-run energy giant Gazprom, owners of the oil platform. All of the artworks in the exhibition, due to open on 11 October, have come courtesy of the Gazprombank art collection.
Last month, 30 Greenpeace activists from 18 countries around the world attempted to climb aboard the Prirazyomnaya platform, an offshore oil rig in the Arctic owned by Gazprom. Since the protest, 14 have been charged with piracy, an offence that carries a 15-year jail sentence.
In his letter, Tishkov said he was unaware that Gazprombank owned any of his artworks. He said: "I join the voices of intelligent people all over the planet in asking for an end to the prosecution of Greenpeace activists who acted in defence of the Arctic." In 2010, Tishkov and his moon travelled to the Arctic along with scientists, writers, musicians and other artists as part of an international expedition to raise awareness about the effects of climate change.
Earlier this week, Greenpeace activists disrupted a Champions League match in the Swiss city of Basel to protest against Gazprom, sponsors of the game. The four activists unfurled a banner from the roof of the stadium that read: "Gazprom. Don't Foul the Arctic." They join a raft of well-known Russian publications, which last week blacked out all images in both print and online to protest the arrest of freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov who was documenting the Greenpeace Arctic action.