I received the following comment on my blog (18th November) regarding climate change direct action targeting artworks in art galleries:
You might have said that no paintings have been targeted. It was a stunt. The Van Gogh Heinz soup incident involved soup on glass. It has made a big impact in getting people to talk about existing and impending climate catastrophes - and we should all do what we can to steer the debates in that direction. I think you are wrong about the current approach to direct action and I am happy to talk with you about it. These are desperate times.
It was implicit in my blog that paintings HAD been targeted. But also that this particular activity so far was futile. The debate that these actions have sparked has been more about whether targeting old paintings in art galleries is justified, rather than the ins and outs of stopping anthropogenic caused climate change. In my view direct action is justified if it is aimed at the right target. So, if it is felt that the art world can provide a suitable vehicle for protest, why aren’t the burgeoning number of high-end art fairs, which generate huge carbon emission trails the subject of attention? Or the billion dollar auction market in art, the patrons of which include the worst carbon emitters of the global elite? Chucking something at a Van Gogh in a public art gallery may hit its protective glass but completely misses the point. No argument is made by futile actions, which seem random and inexplicable to most observers. Yes, they attract attention but for all the wrong reasons, which is to say their ephemeral nature evaporates as soon as the fickle media moves on. Knowledge of climate change is definitely not enhanced. Most people will simply—if they clock the action at all—see it as a prank.
As I suggested, the real target should be those who have the power to change the course of policy, namely, in the first instance the lawmakers, and secondly those who keep the lawmakers in power—corporations, banks, the City, the whole gamut of the financial establishment whom most political parties are loathe to cross. As it is, if MPs and their cohorts think about this activity at all, they will be grateful that the real target—them—is being routinely ignored.