It may be poetic timing that I have just begun a project, which is an oral history of the environmental movements in the UK. The goal is to increase public awareness and understanding of different ways of engaging with environmental issues.
The tactic was provocative, and Van Gogh is, without a doubt, one of the greatest artists of our time. Many of the comments made about Just Stop Oil are not true.
The most common criticism of this stunt is that it alienates people sympathetic to climate change by attacking an important and much-loved piece of artwork. It’s overly performance-based and smacks middle-class activism. Finally, it requires an ” explanation,” which, if you need to do that, you are losing.
Although there are some truths to these criticisms, I do not buy them.
Instead of wasting more time in the social media debate, I’ve broken down the three main arguments and explained why this type of provocative activism deserves unwavering support.
Art is a corporate extension of power.
Shells ends National Gallery sponsorship to the delight of campaigners. Some of the more conscientious institutions (including The National Gallery) have global networks of trading, the avoidance of taxes, and the creation of freeports – huge walled complexes that store art away from prying eyes or tax collectors – the art itself has become completely intertwined to global corporate capitalism and fossil fuel capitalism. Corporations invest in art institutions and pieces of art to gain legitimacy with the public. Art is used as a cover for more destructive practices that are harmful to the planet.
The art itself should not be separated from the capitalist ideology that is behind it. Has become a window into the shadowy practices of global capitalism and tax avoidance. Art pieces are now extensions of corporate power and, therefore, legitimate targets for climate activism.
Climate change and class oppression are the same.
Second, and often from the left, climate activism is accused of being middle-class. They argue that groups are mostly white and that the “mess” created by them (such as soup on paintings or smeared milk on supermarket floors ) is cleaned up by workers.
These arguments are true, but they are not often used to justify the activist’s practices. Social and economic justice are fundamental to climate justice. You cannot have without the other. Just Stop Oil activists, who defaced Van Gogh’s painting, acknowledged these arguments when They said Many people “cannot afford to buy or heat soup due to the energy crisis.”
The climate crisis can only be solved by a total system shift. Greta Thunberg and other prominent voices have repeatedly said. Capitalism does not solve this problem. It only exacerbates it. The oppression and exploitation of the working classes are the core engine of capitalism. Fighting against climate change means fighting the class imbalance (and racial and gender biases, as well) of capitalism. Both are one and must remain so.
Direct action is essential.
Some people have thrown out the phrase, “If you explain yourself, you lose.” There is some truth in that statement, but it doesn’t explain the magnitude of the climate disaster.
Direct action is not about explaining. You’re not doing enough if you have to be “convinced” by an argument.
Just Stop Oil used soup on Sunflowers to symbolize that we are attacking something we care about. Just Stop Oil’s action with Soup on Sunflowers was to symbolize that we are shooting something we love.
Climate change activist sets his arm ablaze at Laver Cup Tennis Tournament in London to protest private jets.A
As the climate situation continues to worsen, direct climate action is only going to increase. Our governments are actively making things worse by approving new mines, fracking contracts, and oil drill contracts. Destroying Pipelines, Demanding an End to Private Jets, as well as other direct actions against fossil fuel burning Infrastructures, are important in this regard. The artists show how art is part of the infrastructure and therefore is equally important.
Climate activists will continue to forge their paths because they need to be heard. Understanding the past (and its successes and failures) will be crucial to building a cohesive, united, and effective climate change movement.