Climate activists in Europe targeted works of art at three sites on Friday, but the protests fell through because the works were not protected by glass. It was also the first time that three protests were held on the same day as a coordinated effort.
On Friday in Paris, Milan and Oslo, climate activists from local groups under the umbrella of the A22 network doused sculptures with orange paint or flour as UN climate talks began in Egypt. This time they hit the target directly, without a shield. Two cases are related to outdoor sculpture. Despite this, none of the artwork has been damaged, but some are still under surveillance for possible further cleaning.
At the main entrance of the Bourse de Commerce Museum – Pinot Collection in Paris, two members of the French team Dernière Rénovation (Last Renovation) are pouring orange paint over Charles Ray’s Horse and Rider stainless steel sculpture. One of the protesters also climbed onto a life-sized horse and pulled a white T-shirt over the rider’s torso. The T-shirt reads “We have 858 days left”, indicating the carbon cut deadline.
A heated debate by climate activists over works of art continues around the world, but so far, in most cases, works of art have been hidden behind glass railings to prevent real damage. But fears remain that such actions could cause irreversible damage. Earlier this month, international directors of museums issued a joint statement saying they were “deeply shocked that … works of art under their care are in danger,” given the continuing trend.
French Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak visited the business exchange after Friday’s incident and tweeted: “Next level environmental vandalism: Charles Ray) has been painted in Paris.” Abdul Malak thanked for the “quick intervention” and added: “Art and environmentalism are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are the common cause!”
The exchange, whose CEO Emma Lavin was present during Abdul Malak’s visit, declined to comment on the matter. Charles Ray’s studio also did not respond to a request for comment.
On the same day, the 46-foot-tall Gustave Vigeland Monolith (1944) in Oslo’s Vigeland Sculpture Park, along with surrounding sculptures by the same artist, was commemorated by the local group Stopp oljeletinga (Stop Searching for Oil), painted orange. The Rock of Oslo is a popular outdoor attraction featuring 121 men, women and children intertwined and carved into a single piece of granite.
Cleaning up the porous sculpture will be more difficult than other works that have come under attack, the museum said.
“We have now completed the necessary cleaning. However, we [continue] to monitor the situation to see if the paint has seeped into the granite. If so, we will of course look into further requests.” – Jarle Stromodden, Director of the Vigeland Museum . , says ARTnews in an email. “Neither the Monolith nor the granite sculptures associated with it were physically damaged. The sculptures are in a public place, in a park that is open to everyone 24/7 365. It’s all a matter of trust.”
According to the group’s Instagram post, French group Dernière Rénovation explained that Friday’s various art-related protests were “simultaneously happening all over the world.”
On the same day in Milan, a local Ultima Generazione (latest generation) dumped sacks of flour on Andy Warhol’s painted 1979 BMW at the Fabbrica Del Vapore Art Center. The group also confirmed that “the operation was carried out in other countries of the world at the same time as other activities of the A22 network.”
A Fabbrica Del Vapore employee contacted by phone said the Warhol-painted BMW has been cleaned and put back on display as part of the Andy Warhol exhibition until March 2023.
Reaction to the dramatic approach of climate change protesters was divided. Israeli writer Etgar Keret compared the attacks to a “hate crime against art” in a recent November 17 editorial in the French newspaper Le Liberation. Meanwhile, political journalist Thomas Legrand noted in the same French daily that climate activists were “actually pretty quiet” compared to French “far-left” groups in the 1970s and 80s. “I found them quite patient, polite and peaceful,” he wrote, given the emergency. “How could we not understand?”
Post time: Dec-03-2022