BONN : Art of climate activism : Climate activists make a statement by weaponizing iconic art pieces.

From the United Kingdom to Italy and Germany, climate activists have been attaching themselves to celebrated artworks to bring attention to their key demand : ending new gas and oil extraction projects.

As Europe suffers unprecedented wildfires and its worst drought in centuries, activists say they want to better communicate the severity of the climate crisis and the need to end burning the fossil gas and oil that fuel it.

In addition to street protests, or coal power plant blockades, campaigners are now targeting iconic artworks to symbolically highlight environmental breakdown.

''Nature is art's greatest muse,'' Simon  Bramwell, an activist who has helped organize art actions with the United Kingdom's Just Stop Oil coalition, told DW.

Iconic artworks weaponised : He refers to particular paintings and sculptures that ''make narrative sense and resonate with the climate crisis itself.''

On July 1, the UK activists glued themselves to the Dame of I M W Turner's 1809 romantic painting, ''Tomson's Aeolian Harp,'' which portrays a bucolic outer London landscape around the Thames River that could be regularly flooded by 2030, according to climate experts.

The action at the Manchester Art Gallery included spay-painting the words '' no new oil '' on the floor.

''Symbolism is one of the ways humans have understood our world for tens of thousands of years,'' Bramwell said, referring to another July action where he and others affixed a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's '' The Last Supper '' at the Royal Academy in London.

''It is possibly one of the most iconic representations of Western values and spirituality,'' he said of the work.

The painting also resonates with ''crop failure'' and the increasing malnutrition linked to climate change. ''We have a whole generation for whom [ it maybe the last supper ],'' he said.

This symbolism was-lighted when two members of Italian climate activist group Ultima Generazione [ Last Generation ] glued themselves to the ancient statue of the priest ''Laocoon'' at the Vatican Museums.

The priest of Apollo in the city of Troy warned his fellow Trojans against taking in the wooden horse left by the Greeks outside the city gates.

But, as with appeals of today's climate scientists, very few listened - and the city was destroyed.

''This statue reminds us of the sad story of the Greek priest that tried to save himself, his children and all citizens of Troy,'' said Laura, an Ultima Generazione activist.

She added that their action was symbolic of a movement ''united by the will of influencing our government to make the right choices in order to mitigate climate change.

''Just as Pyramus started from false assumptions, our government is starting from false assumptions that will lead our societies to collapse,'' the group said, referring to continuing development of coal and gas power projects.

This came a day after two Letzte Generation members affixed themselves to the frame of Raphael's ''Sistine Madonna'' in the Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden.

But Olaf Zimmermann, the executive director of the German Cultural Council, does not agree with the strategy. '' As much as I can understand the despair of the climate activists, I say clearly that the actions of sticking oneself to frames of famous works of art are clearly the wrong way to go,'' he said.

Speaking after the action by Letzte Generation, he said ''the risk of damaging the artworks is very high.'' He added, '' The works put in danger belong to the world cultural heritage and need to be protected as well as our climate,'' he added.

But just stop Oil's Simon Bramwell, who was co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion climate activist movement, said it was time that the art world stands with the climate cause.

While major art institutions like the London's Tate gallery and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam have refused sponsorships from fossil fuel companies such as BP and Shell in recent years.

Just Stop Oil want deeper commitments - including a complete shutdown until governments promise to end new fossil fuel projects.

''Art institutions need to become the adults in the room,'' he said, referring to lack of government action in the climate crisis. [DW]


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