Climate change is non-negotiable and activists have had enough
On October 23, 2022, two climate activists, a man and a woman, decided to throw mashed potatoes on a glass-covered painting by Claude Monet inside a German museum in Potsdam. Each activist also glued one of their hands to the wall by the oil on canvas painting titled “Grainstacks.” This art attack was the latest in a series of publicity stunts that have taken place in European museums.
Are these protestors capturing the public’s attention? Yes. Unfortunately, they are not having the effect that these activists desired.
The disrespect manifested by these activists towards the cherished artwork was very unappealing to the public. As a result, it was very hard to pay attention to their key message: climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. Although their mission is noble, it is clear that these activists need to improve their communication strategy if they wish to energize public support.
Although the acts have a well-intentioned end goal, their modus operandi have left many people outraged on the issue. This has enabled them to turn a blind eye to the original cause in which the activists were fighting for.
Despite it not being entirely practical for civilians to continuously fight for justice against big corporations, as a society, we can take small steps to live a more sustainable life together. The more we educate each other on the pressing issue of climate change, the less people will feel the dire need to participate in these protests.
London, Florence, and Australia have recently experienced similar acts of vandalism which these protestors have enacted in an attempt to accentuate the pressing issue of the climate catastrophe on our hands. Activists glued to a sculpture held in the Vatican, to the 500-year-old frame of The Last Supper, and a Van Gough painting doused in tomato soup. All of these actions bring up an important question: why are these protesters targeting such beloved artwork?
By tying these stunts to some of the most valuable pieces of art, these environmental groups are anticipating that the notable names and endeared works will draw attention to the real issue at hand, which is the cause that they are fighting for. They believe that people will pay attention if something of value is at stake, but what is really at stake is the state of our environment. The problem with these protests' message is that nobody is taking them seriously and that their message is too deeply rooted for most to understand, so although attention-grabbing – potentially misguided.
Sure, the message is there and yes, the media is covering their publicity stunts. However, several media outlets have described the protest as misguided and hurtful to the movement.
There is no denying that there is a serious predicament that needs addressing, and soon. I believe that making your voice heard holds a lot of power, but at this point, the victims behind it all have been innocent in the matter. The communication from one end to the other just was not thoroughly interpreted and there are other culprits besides museums and valuable artwork to blame for our leading fossil fuel crisis.
At this point, the problem at hand is just too big for demonstrations like this to have the widespread effect that the activists were hoping for. Pushing for public policy changes, and becoming “green citizens”, focusing and educating each other, together so that we do not feel so paralyzed by the climate crisis is our best bet in fighting the good fight.
By Lexi Hutchinson
Lexi Hutchinson is a senior at San Diego State University. She was born in Denver Colorado and raised in San Diego. She earned her associates degree before transferring to a four year university to continue her education at SDSU and earn her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Relations with a minor in Communications. She hopes to work in entertainment PR after graduating in the spring.