Italian climate protesters stick their hands to the Vatican’s Laocoön statue


Italian environmental protesters stuck their hands to the base of an ancient statue in a Vatican museum on Thursday, in a bid to exert pressure Rome against the reopening of old coal mines and the launch of natural gas drilling plans. The protest was the latest effort by European environmental activists in recent months that targeted famous works of art.

The Laocoön statue, believed to have been carved in ancient Greece around 40-30 BC. J.-C., depicts an unhappy Trojan priest, whose warnings to his compatriots against accepting a horse offered by the Greeks have gone unheeded. Activists said their warnings of impending environmental disaster had also gone unheeded.

Protesters said the statue was unharmed. They were arrested by Vatican security and taken to an Italian police station, according to the Associated Press.

“Today, thousands of climate activists are sounding the climate alarm, but they too are being ignored and suppressed,” Last Generation, the Italian environmental group responsible for the act, said in a statement. Tweeter.

“There will be no open museums, no art, no beauty in a world plagued by climate and ecological emergencies,” the group said in a statement partially attributed to a 26-year-old art history graduate who stuck her hand to sculpture. She was identified only as Laura.

Many similar recent protests have also involved paintings and sculptures in Europe. In July, activists from the same group clung to a glass frame protecting Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera painting in Florence before security guards freed their hands. A video of the incident garnered nearly 35,000 views from Last Generation on Instagram, making it one of their most popular posts.

Earlier that month campaigners covered John Constable’s painting ‘The Hay Wain’ at the National Gallery in London with a reimagined and apocalyptic take on the English countryside. Activists, who also stuck to the frame, called for an end to new oil and gas licenses and urged arts institutions to join them in the resistance.

Also in July, climate protesters glued themselves to the frame of a 500-year-old painting of the Last Supper at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. They spray painted “No New Oil” on the wall below the artwork.

None of the paintings were permanently defaced, the AP reported.

“Targeting famous works of art and museums that are so well-known and appeal to a wide range of people from all walks of life has been a very effective way to get attention,” said Priya Kurian, environmental policy expert at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. .

“The fact is that these activists do not harm art. Instead, they draw attention to the need to protect our treasures, the ultimate treasure of a healthy planet,” she said.

A victory at whose expense? Climate activists are grappling with a political compromise.

Climate protesters also halted the Tour de France cycle race and disrupted the British Grand Prix car race last month.

In the United States, climate change activism is also growing in popularity, with nearly a quarter of American adults having made efforts to support action against climate change in the past year, according to a report by May 2021 Pew Research Center study.

Scientists are also attracted to more extreme actions. In April, a climate and soil change expert chained herself to the White House fence to protest government inaction.

In December, Bruce Glavovic, professor of environment at New Zealand’s Massey University, urged his colleagues in an academic journal to publish a research moratorium in protest at the lack of action on climate change.

“If the evidence is ignored, we must stand up and call for action,” he said in an interview. “If we want to destroy the world around us, we are doing something even worse than destroying works of art produced for the public good.”

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