On October 23, climate activists in Berlin, Germany, threw mashed potatoes onto Monet’s famous painting, Les Meules (Haystacks).
After the two threw mashed potatoes upon the $110 million painting, they glued their hands upon the wall and waited for police to apprehend them.
The protesters are part of Letzte Generation (Last Generation), who claim that the Earth’s climate will make the planet uninhabitable for future generations. Letzte Generation further asserted that society is on “the edge of the abyss.”
“We are in a climate catastrophe, and all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting,” said one protester in a video of the incident posted to Twitter. “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.”
“This painting is not going to be worth anything if we have to fight over food,” the protester continued.
Luckily, the valuable Monet painting was covered by glass, and police were able to remove the protester’s hands from the wall easily, according to a museum spokesman.
Over the past few months, climate activists have been targeting works of art in attempts to generate awareness.
Just nine days prior to the mashed potato incident, Just Stop Oil protesters in London hurled tomato soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in London’s National Gallery. Curators later confirmed that the painting was undamaged.
Two weeks prior, Just Stop Oil glued their hands to the 500-year-old Last Supper, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. The frame and varnish suffered light damage, which was promptly repaired.
Critics of the activists took to Twitter to express concern over the protesters’ methods.
Dr. Jonathan Foley stated, “As someone who used to run a museum, this is concerning. It’s not guaranteed that glass will protect a priceless work of art from liquids.” Furthermore, he added, “This will drive up insurance and security costs for museums. A lot.”
“Throw hot mashed potatoes on oil execs instead of the art that actually makes the world more bearable,” added writer and comedian Akilah Hughes.
Climate activists defended their methods and claimed that these unorthodox protests raise awareness for their cause.
“We’re not trying to make friends here. We’re trying to make change,” said Alex De Koning, spokesman for Just Stop Oil to The Guardian. “Unfortunately, this is the way that change happens.”
Both Letzte Generation and Just Stop Oil are financed by Climate Emergency Fund, a foundation begun by billionaire oil heiress Aileen Getty. The co-founder of the Climate Emergency Fund is Trevor Neilson, an associate of Bill Gates and George Soros.