ACTIVISM – An increasingly common method of action. This Friday, October 14, the table of sunflowers, by Van Gogh, located in the National Gallery in London, was doused with tomato soup by two activists from the British organization Just Stop Oil. More fear than damage to the artwork since it is the protective glass that has taken most of the can. As for the militant operation, it is not new and in fact joins a long list of this type, mainly in Anglo-Saxon countries.
It is enough to rely on the international press to realize it. Before Van Gogh, activists glued their hands to a Pablo Picasso in an Australian museum. In July, a Botticelli suffered the same fate in a museum in Florence. Shortly before there was a Da Vinci exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, in London, which was directed…
AFP PHOTO / EXTINCTION REBELLION / MATT HRKAC
An Extinction Rebellion activist sticks his hand to a Pablo Picasso painting, at the National Gallery in Melbourne, on October 9, 2022.
If these activists do not differentiate between cubism and the renaissance, they all claim the same slogan: denounce climate inaction.
Art or the health of the planet?
The gesture of the two activists was intended to point out how much a master painting can be protected and valued, unlike the planet. ” What is the most valuable? Art or life? Is it worth more than food, than justice? Are you more concerned about protecting a painting or protecting the planet and people? “, denounced one of the two young women.
In the case of Just Stop Oil, the choice of paint is of little importance: by carrying out actions in the exhibition spaces, the organization wants to alert the cultural community, but also place itself in front of the eyes of visitors and the public. . And rebound from the media and political powers. In short, give effective and cheap visibility to the issues that concern everyone, as pointed out by the Paris correspondent of the Swiss newspaper Time.
Reactions to Van Gogh seem a bit excessive to me. 1. It is protected by glass 2. They are children 3.… https://t.co/zCHan09TzV
—Paul Ackermann (@paulac)
If very often the custom is to stick to the frame of the painting, sometimes the modes of action vary. By July, the organization had covered John Constable’s painting, the hay cart, in the National Gallery, from an apocalyptic illustration. “ This painting is part of our heritage but it is no more important than the 3.5 billion men, women and children who are already at risk due to the climate crisis. “, an activist had explained then.
Outside the showrooms, Just Stop Oil activists have already blocked roads or gas stations on several occasions.
2 young Just Stop Oil supporters remain at the @NationalGallery in London. They are glued to a reinvented version… https://t.co/TVAib7292O
— Just Stop the Oil ⚖️💀🛢 (@JustStop_Oil)
The background and the form
If the British organization is undoubtedly the most neat in terms of cardboard and glue, this mode of action has already spread throughout Europe, with some variants. In July, activists from the Italian organization Ultima Generazione latched onto a Botticelli, on display at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. This time it was more about alerting us to what could disappear, including art. “ If the climate collapses, the entire civilization as we know it collapses. There will be no more tourism, no more museums, no more art.” the group wrote in a tweet.
For Extinction Rebellion, the table options are a bit less innocuous. Last July, two XR protesters stuck to the massacre in korea by picasso, in the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. This time there was a link between substance and form for XR: “ This painting shows the horrors of war. […] Climate degradation will mean an increase in conflicts around the world. Now is the time for each and every institution to rise up to act! »explained the move in a statement.
More generally, these high-profile actions without “physical” consequences are part of the repertoire of civil disobedience actions. The latter is experiencing unprecedented enthusiasm in the context of the climate crisis. Furthermore, in France, these actions remain sporadic. For now, just the Mona Lisa it was the target of a floured man, of an isolated individual. But the Last Renovation movement, which was highlighted by disrupting the Tour de France this summer, obviously no longer precludes taking action.
The Mona Lisa just for the international buzz (referring to @EmmanuelMacron)? The “Medusa Raft” for the… https://t.co/5nS7wMHUhA
— Last renewal (@derniere_renov)
See also in Le HuffPost :