Climate activist BRAGS about smearing paint on priceless Degas statue, despite damaging masterpiece
An eco-zealot has bragged about how smearing paint on a Degas masterpiece 'people up with a shock' to , even though the stunt damaged the priceless statue and cost taxpayers a fortune in repairs. Activists identified as Tim Martin and Joanna Smith were arrested after daubing red and black paint on the case protecting Edgar Degas' Little Dancer Aged Fourteen at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, , last month. The exploit ostensibly aimed at spotlighting climate change further damaged the already-cracked statue and kept dozens of staff busy on costly repairs that took until May 8 to set right. This week, Martin, 54, an architect from Raleigh, , shamelessly released a video via the activist group Declare Emergency defending his actions in one of America's best-loved art venues. 'The idea is that we wake people up with a shock, and we do it in a way that that engages and invites their emotional centers,' said the softly-spoken dad-of-two. 'We want to activate people's emotions so that they can stop ignoring and turning and looking the other way, because we cannot afford to look the other way anymore.' The activist group Declare Emergency recruits volunteers who say they're willing to get arrested, and stages regular protests to pressure the Biden Administration to radically restrict fossil fuel use. UN experts say planet-heating gases are making Earth dangerously hot, but the US, China, and other world governments have set ambitious targets to reduce the risk by switching to clean energy sources over the coming years. The gallery said the stunt was simply vandalism. A spokeswoman told DailyMail.com of the harm to an 'inherently fragile figure' made of wood, clay, rope, paintbrushes, padding, lead, and wire, which is coated in a thin skin of beeswax. 'Damage is exacerbated by any movement, whether by vibration created when the plexiglass cover is hit or when the sculpture is physically moved to another location,' said the spokeswoman. 'The attack on April 27 brought about both conditions.' Dozens of staff, including, carpenters, registrars, art handlers, conservators, scientists, and imaging specialists, were involved in repairs and clearing up at considerable cost to the taxpayer-funded gallery. Gallery 3 was closed for the rest of the day as police assessed the scene, and the statue was not back on public view until May 8. Its climate-controlled protective case needed extensive repairs. 'Even when cracks do not appear changed to the naked eye, microscopic and cumulative damage is always a concern,' said the spokeswoman. 'Going forward, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen will require regular, extensive monitoring to observe any change in the cracks or other elements of her composition.' Declare Emergency released a video of the two demonstrators smearing the paint, named them and said in a statement they had been arrested. The US attorney's office for DC did not immediately detail whether any charges were brought against them. Climate activists have increasingly turned to vandalizing artworks to draw attention to emissions of planet-heating gases but most of these antics have targeted European galleries. Campaigners last year painting in Rome and another in London's National Gallery. In Australia, activists , while in The Hague, others painting.