The Other Climate-Change Art Protest – The Atlantic

by | Nov 20, 2022 | Climate Change

“What is worth more: art or life?” That was the provocative question that the demonstrator Phoebe Plummer asked onlookers at London’s National Gallery last month. Seconds before, Plummer—along with another activist—had splattered tomato soup across Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, superglued one hand to the wall, and kneeled in front of the painting, facing museumgoers in a shirt emblazoned with JUST STOP OIL. In the subsequent weeks, more climate activists defaced other famous works of art at museums across Europe in stunt-y attempts to draw attention to the climate crisis. “A lot of people, when they saw us, had feelings of shock or horror or outrage,” Plummer told NPR. “Where is that emotional response when it’s our planet and our people that are being destroyed?”The protesters may have succeeded in grabbing headlines, but their logic was puzzling. As my colleague Robinson Meyer has written, pitting concern for the climate against concern for protecting famous paintings makes little sense. In posing a false choice between art and the environment, the soup protesters backed themselves into a corner, attracting support from neither art lovers nor climate-movement sympathizers.Read: The climate art vandals are embarrassingA better connection between art and climate change exists, and the people who know this best are those who live and work at its intersection: the niche community known as eco-artists.Capturing the climate crisis in their work requires eco-artists to confront the daily realities of drought, heat, wildfires, and pollution. These conditions converge dramatically in the western states of the U.S., a region that has become synonymous with hazy tangerine skyscapes, charred remnants of forest, and cracked mosaic riverbeds. These images remind u …

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