The police arrested two climate activists after they threw mashed potatoes in a glass-covered painting by Claude Monet. The incident occurred at the Museum Barberini in Germany, Sunday. The latest protest tried to draw attention to the impact of climate change by targeting famous works of art.
Climate Activists: The Painting’s Worth Is Irrelevant if We Fight Over Food
Just nine days after Just Stop Oil Activists threw tomato soup over Van Gogh‘s painting, two climate activists from Letzte Generation (Last Generation) used their trick and did the same on Monet’s painting. After throwing mashed potatoes, they crouched beneath the painting and glued their hands to the wall.
In a video posted by the group on Twitter, one of the climate activists said “people are starving, people are freezing, people are dying.”
“We are in a climate catastrophe and all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting,” they said. “You know what I’m afraid of? I’m afraid because science tells us that we won’t be able to feed our families in 2050.”
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“Does it take mashed potatoes on a painting to make you listen? This painting is not going to be worth anything if we have to fight over food. When will you finally start to listen? When will you finally start to listen and stop business as usual?”
The video’s caption says: “What is worth more #forall — art or life? Monet loved nature and captured its fragile beauty in his works. Why are many more afraid of one of these images being damaged than of the destruction of our world itself?”
The painting, Les Meules, or Haystacks, from 1890, is protected by glass and has not been damaged. It will go back on public display on Wednesday.
Attacking Famous Paintings Won’t Help Fight Climate Crisis
The museum’s director Ortrud Westheier says “while understanding the urgent concerns of activists in the face of the climate catastrophe, I am appalled by the means they are using to back their demands.”
Two climate activists are Mirjam Herrmann and Benjamin. The police arrested them after the protest. The museum said in a statement that the police intervened quickly and took protesters into custody.
In a post about the incident, Last Generation pointed to the protest in London and again raised the question: “What is worth more, art or life?”
“The painting was not damaged in the action”, the group said. #Quite in contrast to the immeasurable suffering that floods, storms and droughts are bringing upon us today as harbingers of the impending catastrophe.”
“If the activists showed interest in the pictures, they would know that impressionist painters, like Monet in particular, dealt intensively with changes in nature in their pictures,” Westheier said in a statement.
Left-leaning government officials in Potsdam and the German state of Brandenburg condemned the action.
“The fight against the climate crisis is not strengthened by attacks on famous paintings,” Brandenburg Green Party Leader Ursula Nonnemacher posted on Twitter. “On the contrary, we need broad social consensus.”