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Climate Protestors Are At It Again In Germany

Last Generation Monet Climate Protest

German climate activists from the group Last Generation threw mashed potatoes at a Monet painting worth $110 million as part of a protest against fossil fuel extraction. This comes just days after British protestors made headlines for throwing tomato soup over a Van Gogh in London.

The two activists approached Monet’s Les Meules at the Barberini Museum in Potsdam and threw the potato over the painting and its gold frame. They then proceeded to glue themselves to the wall below it.

Footage of the event displays two people, both wearing orange high-vis vests, shouting: “Does it take mashed potato 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?”

According to German news agency dpa, four people were involved in the stunt.

The painting was not harmed by the activists’ actions, with the Barberini Museum confirming that it was encased in glass. It will be back on display on Wednesday. Nonetheless, museum director Ortrud Westheider told Sky News he was “shocked” by the activists’ behavior.

“While I understand the activists’ urgent concern in the face of the climate catastrophe, I am shocked by the means with which they are trying to lend weight to their demands,” he said.

This is the latest in a string of climate actions related to famous artwork, with the tomato soup incident in London last week, Just Stop Oil activists gluing themselves to the frame of an early copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and also to John Constable’s The Hay Wain in the National Gallery.

So, why art? It’s undeniable that appearing to attack art makes headlines. In the UK, Just Stop Oil have been blocking motorways and publicly demonstrating for months. While news sites did report on their actions, nothing took off to the same extent as the explosive video of them throwing art over a Van Gogh.

It’s certainly attracting attention, but for some, it only confirms the stereotype that many have about climate activists. Namely, that they’re destructive and out of touch. While their actions have made headlines, it hasn’t generated much meaningful discussion or results around climate change. Instead, it’s devolved into a discussion about whether art is worth preserving, a conversation I don’t think the activists were planning to get involved in.

If this is a continuing trend, perhaps the activists need to find a way to link the art more closely to the problem they’re protesting. Otherwise, it seems more like a senseless act without much relevance to their fight.

(featured image: Letzte Generation)

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