Koch portrait in Building 66 covered by artwork ‘Tarnished Horizons’

Plaque next to piece asks MIT to ‘step away from embracing the patronage of the Koch family and the fossil fuel industry’

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A painting of David H. Koch '62 in Building 66 was obscurred by a painting titled Tarnished Horizons set in place by anonymous persons Sunday evening. The painting depicts a flaming offshore oil rig scorching the sea and sky.
Kevin Ly–The Tech

Anonymous persons covered a portrait of David H. Koch ’62 in Building 66 with artwork titled “Tarnished Horizons” Nov. 10. A plaque next to the painting dedicated it to “the lives disrupted by climate change” and stated it was commissioned by the “MIT Committee on Climate Change.”

An email sent to The Tech by the anonymous group describes the painting as “an impressionist rendering of a flaming offshore drilling rig filling the sky with smoke and the sea with oil.”

The plaque read, “This art installation is intended to pivot attention away from MIT’s exaltation of David H. Koch, and instead towards the spectre of his actions. Koch spent decades exploiting ecosystems and championing climate change denialism for the financial benefit of himself and his family company, the petrochemical giant Koch Industries.”

The plaque also asked the MIT administration to “step away from embracing the patronage of the Koch family and the fossil fuel industry, and realign its values with MIT’s mission to brighten the horizons of humankind.”

According to the plaque, the artwork is planned to be on display from Nov. 11 to Nov. 17.

The “MIT Committee on Climate Change” also installed the piece “Futility Island” in September in front of the Green Building, which depicted an oil spill. The piece appeared in response to Shell funding renovations for the Green Building, according to a sign next to the piece.

MIT student groups also protested the Institute’s relationship with Koch earlier in the semester, including at the #TheyKnew protest in September and the dedication of Hockfield Court in October.

Koch, who passed away Aug. 23, donated $100 million for the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and $20 million for the David H. Koch Childcare Center.