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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Vandalizing art is not climate activism

By Bren Belmonte | Staff Writer

   On Oct. 14, Just Stop Oil climate activists Phoebe Plummer and Anna Holland threw tomato soup at a glass-covered Vincent van Gogh painting and glued their hands to the wall at the National Gallery in London. In a society with various issues, the concept of disruption and the need to attract attention is understandable. However, there is a boundary between the need for attention and vandalism. 

   Defacing works of art for the cause of eliminating fossil fuels has no impact on the goal of the protest.  

    Plummer, who is 21 years old,  from the Just Stop Oil environmental activist group, stated in a video provided by The Guardian, “Are you more concerned about the protection of the painting or of the protection for the planet and people?”

   In addition, shouts for security and gasps were expressed by the public audience in the video while the young activist was shouting about the oil crisis.

   “I think you should never harm cultural heritage,” said frequent National Gallery visitor, Frans Smit, to KCAL9 News.

   Smit was one of many enraged museum visitors who experienced the public disruption of the protest. The disturbances of Just Stop Oil’s displays are hurting the public, as the museums bring education and attention due to the paintings being an intergenerational gift to society. 

   This incident led to a chain of more chaotic art vandalisms. Another activist from Just Stop Oil glued his head to a glass covering of the world-famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring” located at The Mauritshuis Hague museum in the Netherlands on Oct. 27, though the artwork was not damaged. 

   Each activist had to take out a secret tube of superglue from their pocket, hold it in one hand, remove the cap with the other, and gently drip out the adhesive, making the demonstrators look absurd. There is no respectable method to squeeze a tiny bottle of superglue; in politics, appearances are important to build credibility. 

   Damage to paintings is not only ineffective for protests, but it also causes financial problems for the affected museums. 

   Jonathan Foley, the executive director of the climate nonprofit Project Drawdown said to The Atlantic, “because staging protests at art museums has now happened a few times, every art museum could see its insurance and security costs increase by hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

   The likely result of an increase in museum insurance would be a growth in security. This would also include an increase in ticket prices to art museums. In turn, the consumer has to pay more due to the existence of destructive climate activists.

   Just Stop Oil repeatedly attempts to make a point about how people should stop caring about “meaningless” paintings as there are bigger events happening in the world. But activists should encourage organizing peaceful public speeches, rallies, and marches.

   Promoting eco-friendly bags and recycling is not enough; citizens need to be aware of the effects of fossil fuels and the necessity for our government to look for alternative energy sources. School districts in America need to add environmental recognition curriculum into class standards, and only then will the world will improve for the better.

   In today’s society, facts and awareness must be communicated peacefully. Recognize that vandalism is not the answer to getting one’s voice heard, it is words that can have a greater effect.

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Vandalizing art is not climate activism