Extinction Rebellion activists glue on to Picasso painting at the NGV
By Extinction Rebellion Australia, on 9 October 2022
In an action that received global media coverage, two rebels glued themselves to Picasso’s ‘Massacre in Korea’ at the National Gallery of Victoria
A clear reflection of Picasso’s pacifist beliefs, ‘Massacre in Korea’ shows the horrors of war through a depiction of the final moments of a group of women and children held at gunpoint by dehumanised soldiers. The banner unfurled by the protesters read ‘Climate Chaos = War and Famine’ highlighting the connection between climate breakdown, military conflict and human suffering.
According to David Attenborough, “If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security.” By targeting this high profile painting and exhibition, XR is calling attention to the responsibility of all governments, corporations and institutions to act now on the climate and ecological crisis.
Catherine Strong, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, wrote about the action in a Crikey.com article 'Extinction Rebellion: art wasn’t entertainment to Picasso — that’s why we used him to highlight the climate crisis'
"Waiting for the perfect action that won't upset anyone is a gamble Extinction Rebellion isn't willing to take.
"Picasso, the controversial artist and lifetime pacifist (and to be fair, a problematic misogynist) would probably see our actions as bold and in the spirit of his art.
"We invite lovers of his work to move beyond the shock of the event and feel the fear that we, and so many others, are experiencing over what we are doing to our home planet. And to think about joining us. It’s not too late."
This action marked the second day of the Spring Rebellion, two weeks of action that are taking place throughout Victoria. The key messages of the Spring Rebellion are No More Gas, No More Oil, No More Coal and No More Native Logging.
Tony Gleeson, a retired teacher and grandfather, who glued on to the perspex protecting the painting, said: "I am taking this action today because art is one way to connect us to the emotional side of human suffering, and to increase our empathy. This painting represents the suffering of war. We need to be thinking about how this type of suffering will increase, and how the societal breakdown that scientists are telling us is coming will eventually put us all in the firing line. There are no actions too extreme to take at this moment to draw attention to the urgency of fixing this problem now."
Daisy, who also glued on, said: "While it will seem shocking to many people that we are targeting art, there will be no art on a dead planet. If we want to protect the things we believe are valuable about human culture, we must act now to prevent the worst case scenarios of climate change coming to pass."
The protest was carefully planned and the protective covering was one of the factors that influenced the decision to choose that particular painting. The NGV statement confirmed that the artwork was not harmed.
Spring Rebellion '22 will continue until 22 October. There are plenty of opportunities to join, both on the streets and behind the scenes. Check the program on the Rebellions section on this website, and sign up!
Photos by Matt Hrkac