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Climate Protest Attacks Continue To Rock European Art World

Even as U.N. Climate talks were underway in Egypt, protestors continued targeting artistic and cultural sites in Europe last week.

The attacks occurred on Friday, around the same time, in the cities of Paris, Milan, and Oslo. The attackers were reportedly from different individual groups but part of the same umbrella organization – the A22 Network. Though climate-motivated attacks on artworks have become increasingly common, these attacks were a stark departure from the previous ones, as this time the targeted works were not under any protective glass casing.

The most significant attack came on the front entrance of the Bourse de Commerce in Paris. Dernière Rénovation members doused Horse and Rider – a stainless-steel sculpture created by Charles Ray – with orange paint. They also tied a t-shirt to the torso of the sculpture which read “We have 885 days left” –  referencing the deadline for reducing carbon emissions by 2025.

Scene at the Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo

The second attack of the day came at the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo. Members of the local group Stopp Oljeletinga doused orange paint on Monolith (1944) – a 46-foot statue created by Gustave Vigeland. The statue, which depicts 121 men, women, and children blended into one, is a popular attraction in Oslo. The park director later confirmed that the statue faced no lasting damages.

Scene at the Fabbrica Del Vapore art centre, Milan

The last attack of the day came at Milan, by members of the group Ultima Generazione. The protestors poured bags of flour on the painted BMW, created by Andy Warhol in 1979, at the Fabbrica Del Vapore art center. No lasting damage was caused by the attack, though, and the car was cleaned and back on view soon afterward.

Dernière Rénovation later posted that similar attacks were carried out throughout the world by groups under the A22 umbrella. At the time, the historic COP27 summit was ongoing in Egypt to decide key policies to combat climate change across the globe.