Performance as Activism- Greenpeace

As the reading explained, Greenpeace has made significant progress through their activism regarding issues of environmental safety. I enjoyed the parallel that was drawn between their activism and other forms of performance. One of Durland’s main points that I found very intriguing was that the types of activism and protest that Greenpeace demonstrates are not recognized as “art” in our culture. He details the merits of their demonstrations and provides multiple examples of people in power, who should be reprimanding the organization, actually supporting and encouraging their acts. At first I struggled with the notion that perhaps it was because many of the risky, bold Greenpeace demonstrations are illegal and that was why people hesitate to appreciate them as art. But after tossing that idea around for a while, I decided it couldn’t be true because acts of graffiti (that are often illegal) are frequently considered to be artwork. So, I’m left still wondering where we, as Americans, draw the line between performance as artwork and performance as solely activism? If it is not a matter of legality, then what?

Here is an image of Greenpeace graffiti that kind of brings together these two forms of activism and performance:

Greenpeace Action


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