Op-Ed: Is smearing food on the ‘Mona Lisa’ a productive form of climate change protest?
A reader from South Africa writes: “When I look for what’s wrong with this world, I feel that most people have become so enmeshed with technology and the global market that they don’t know what the world would look like without it.”
It sounds like another case of too little information or a fear of the unknown, but the same is true of the food-on-Art-in-the-Michelangelo-Basquiat/Mona Lisa case.
This is an important distinction because when we hear the label of “climate change” we usually think of the changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, loss of rain forests, or something to do with carbon dioxide. When we see the “Mona Lisa” on the cover of Newsweek, we think about the artist’s statement that art is never “good enough.” In that context we might think that the “Mona Lisa” is a bit of a stretch to be painted on the cover and that it’s not really a question of whether we can do better, but rather whether we have to. But we also think of art as a statement about the world and society — one that is either true or false.
Here’s the thing: The art on the cover of Newsweek is not really about climate issues. It is a statement about what it means to be modern and the world our society has created. The question then becomes: Is smearing food on the “Mona Lisa” a productive form of climate change protest?
First, the issue of the “Mona Lisa” is not actually about climate change. We hear about the issue of climate change and the threats posed by climate change, but the label has become so broad that, I think, the public has lost the idea of what’s being discussed and what’s being protested. We are now concerned with the quality of our water,