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Joshua Garland

Joshua Garland

Postdoctoral fellow

Joshua Garland

Iconoclash and the climate movement


  • Joshua Garland

Summary, in English

Priceless artworks are being destroyed or, at least, they appear to be. Yet the very act of climate protest targeting these works in what could be construed as acts of vandalism are in themselves productive of new visual media through which climate concern and urgency is conveyed. This article offers reflections upon one way in which these protest actions may be conceptually understood. It does so with particular regard to Latour’s notion of ‘iconoclash’ in which an indeterminacy around the actions, meanings and outcomes of these protests can be identified and explored for their possible implications in the context of the climate crisis. It argues that recent protest forms represent a novel approach to climate messaging, but remain problematic. There is an iconoclash-related tension in the visually striking art destruction which, contrarily, avoids causing damage while producing new visual materials in the form of event images. It is contended that the questions that arise from the visually destructive acts ultimately distract from the climate claim-making by causing debate around the validity and efficacy of targeting art in protest instead. Hence, iconoclash is advocated as a useful conceptual tool through which to analyse this novel, contemporary form of climate protest.

Publishing year







Visual Studies

Document type

Journal article




  • Human Geography




  • ISSN: 1472-586X