Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series on the reasoning and impact of climate change protests through attacks on art.
News has spread around the world of a series of attacks on several priceless works of art by the Just Stop Oil coalition and other climate activists, such as Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’, ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer and, more recently, Edvard Munch. “The Scream.”
Although protests in art museums are not something new, they still spark a discussion among people and raise the question: “Are these protests really effective?
Art history professor Anne Perry voices her opinion on the situation, saying she is all for the protests and supports the cause, but she feels they are targeting the wrong target. Acknowledging the point these coalitions are trying to make, that in the future, if our planet is dead, this piece of art won’t matter, she explains how it might be more effective to target the art that belongs to those who profit from the destruction of the planet.
“Why run after these works of art that are famous, to attract attention?” said Perry. “If they really wanted it to be art, why not go to the Metropolitan and see various collections bought by robber barons? I’m talking about the Rockefellers, actually. They made huge donations of art (to the MET).
The situation has become a political statement, and Perry points to the fact that as the campaigns unfold, the candidates pay more attention to gas prices and less to climate change, wishing to do more.
“We’re getting so oblivious, right now, everybody’s worried about the economy and laughing at the climate,” Perry said. “It’s all so political, we don’t have each other’s well-being in mind at all, it’s just politics. I think we could honestly cause the destruction of this planet and we’re The point that these protests are trying to make is valid.
Although the protests gained media coverage after the attacks on museums, there is still no hard data proving they are effective in making a difference in the decisions that big oil companies make.
“Anyone in their right mind and aware of the whole thing is absolutely sympathetic to the cause, and yet my first impression is this: Are (their) actions really gaining enough support and interest to make a difference? And I don’t think we have enough data to really answer that question,” Perry said.
Luckily for art lovers, Perry said activists research the work they’re targeting and choose those protected by glass, like the “Monalisa” which is behind bulletproof glass, ensuring that no major damage occurs to these works.
If not, these attacks would push museums to protect these priceless works of art that have transcended history.
“In terms of art I have mixed feelings, of course I support these people who are desperately trying to make a difference and I admire the fact that they are doing something,” Perry said. “But as an art historian, I can’t condone what they chose to do. I am emotionally invested in these works.
Maria L. Guerrero Duran is the Web and Editorial Editor and can be reached at [email protected]; @bymariaguerrero on Twitter and Instagram.