The brothy brawl against oil

Emilio Medina, Entertainment Editor

Earlier this year, two activists of the Just Stop Oil organization founded by Welsh activist Roger Hallam threw tomato soup at Vincent Van Goh’s Vase With Fifteen Flowers as a protest against the organization’s central opposition, Big Oil. The Just Stop Oil organization works to remove the reliance on oil and completely switch to clean energy everywhere. Activist Hallam founded Just Stop Oil in February 2022. Thanks to a glass covering, the soup left the painting unharmed but museum visitors were shocked. This viral act brought criticism to the organization and its protests for involving art pieces. 

“It’s the part of me that understands that the only way to make these and other powerful institutions pay attention to you is to get too close,  especially to something of great value with a high price tag. A part of me that understands that this isn’t about hurting art,  if it were, these activists would pick pieces that aren’t behind glass,” writer Jackie Desforages said.

However, in another protest by different activists, two members taped a dystopian version of John Constable’s The Hay Wain on top of the original and then glued their hands to the frame. The varnish and frame suffered damages costing £1,081 to replace. The activists claimed they used the advice given by a professional so as to not damage the paintings.

“I think using controversial symbolism to create space for conversations that need to happen has been effective in the past, but I disagree with the way that Just Stop Oil did it. They set themselves up to be taken out of context by protesting in a way that doesn’t obviously seem to be about climate change,” NC Alumna and former Chant staff member Jenny Loveland said.

Hallam also co-founded climate groups Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain. In other notable events, Just Stop Oil organized, activists, sprayed multiple buildings with orange paint, including the Bank of England. In a recent campaign, supporters of the organization climbed onto the gantries of the M25 expressway and disrupted traffic for four days. 

Although now making headlines, this method of disruptive activism proves popular by other activist groups applying it to their protests. Earlier this year, an animal rights activist ran into a basketball game before a security guard slammed her onto the ground. A similar situation occurred at a meet-and-greet event with Artist Gucci Mane and an animal rights activist.

 “I also think it was a poor choice of target because the painting is by an artist who’s known and loved by general society and wasn’t part of the elite class that is causing our problems today, because of this, it feels to me like another instance of how climate change protesters are pushing their responsibility for reversing climate change onto the average person, rather than the industry leaders who are profiting from the whole issue,” Loveland said.