The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Climate Protesters are Taking it All Out on Art

First, it was Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” with tomato soup. Next, it was Monet’s “Les Meules” with mashed potatoes. Then, a Madame Tussauds figure of King Charles III took the cake, quite literally.
Photoshop By Nadia Razzaq
Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” cover Monet’s “Les Meules,” leaving Munch’s “The Scream” in shock. The photoshopped piece comments on the current state of climate protests.

It’s rebellious, it’s striking and, most notable of all, it’s created one runny mess. 

On Oct. 23, two climate change protesters from the organization Zetzte “Last” Generation launched a jar of watered-down mashed potatoes onto Monet’s “Les Meules” at Potsdam’s Barberini Museum. 

Just nine days prior, Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” was covered in tomato soup by Just Stop Oil – an organization devoted to halting fossil fuels. According to museum officials, no permanent damage was done to either painting due to the protective glass overlaid; yet, the incidents beg the question as to whether these protests are any means to a solution.

Mirjam Herrmann, one of two activists at the Barberini Museum on Sunday, glued her hand to the wall alongside her accomplice after hurling mashed potatoes at “Les Meules.” Herrmann passionately asserted her discontent with climate change denial at the protest. 

We are in a climate catastrophe. And all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting. 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.” 

Herrmann is far from alone in this fight. The war on climate change has been going on long before the food fights that continue to unfold in museums.

After gaining recognition in August 2018, the empowering voice of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg ignited climate strikes around the globe. For instance, the Fridays for Future movement was grown from Thunberg’s voice, providing an opportunity for concerned youth to organize and call on urgent climate action.  

“I have learned you are never too small to make a difference,” Thunberg said at the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24). 

Now, there is more urgency for action than ever before as scientists reveal startling discoveries. United Nations (UN) News is troubled by the projected pathway for global warming, finding that the temperature may more than double the 1.5-degree limit. This statistic is widely attributable to human activity, to greenhouse gas emissions. 

Environmental Club president Dahlia Nichols provides insight into recent protests. Nichols believes the cause to be more than worthy, however, the message may be lost in translation. 

“I think it’s great to protest peacefully for climate change,” Nichols said. “I think it’s kind of weird though when you do it with something that’s unrelated to it, even though it does bring up the topic of change. Nonetheless, it brought up the topic and made people more aware so the end product is good.” 

The rebellion doesn’t end with paintings. On Oct. 24, Just Stop Oil smashed a chocolate cake onto King Charles III’s waxwork at Madame Tussauds in London. Smearing the cake into the face of the British monarch, two supporters urged onlookers to join the movement as it is “time for action.” As a result, four people were arrested following the occurrence for criminal damage. 

The string of climate activism by the destruction of art is ongoing, seemingly occurring more so with each passing day. Former AP Art History student and senior Erin Yoon aligns with the cause, but worries about the scrutiny these actions are garnering. 

“I think that it’s an effective way of getting attention to this issue but it isn’t positive attention,” Yoon said. “It just creates more outrage towards the protesters and is just bringing this negative attention towards the protesters for a positive cause.” 

The cycle prevails; most protesters are outraged by onlookers, while most onlookers are outraged by protesters. Last Generation in a press release leaves adversaries with one question for consideration:

 “What is more valuable, life or art?” 

View Comments (8)

Comments (8)

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  • C

    Cameron N.Nov 1, 2022 at 1:31 pm

    They honestly ate that down. #Period.

  • L

    Lakin StarbuckOct 26, 2022 at 10:58 am

    I think it’s interesting that Wynn Bruce, who set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court earlier this year (something that was filmed, if you want to look it up), got maybe a passing headline, and certainly did not arouse mass outrage. Conversely, the “disrespect” of popular works of art especially Van Gogh (nobody really knows or cares about his politics, his work ‘Massacre in Korea’ gives you a hint), has been the topic of hot discussion for weeks despite no permanent damage occurring. This is what causes discussion! The outrage is clearly manufactured. Is it a coincidence that the only climate protests that get coverage are the ones that can be used to demonize the protesters and their cause? (thanks to the sensationalist reporting a lot of people still believe the painting was ruined)

    • J

      Joel ValdezOct 27, 2022 at 8:32 am

      Massacre in Korea was created by Pablo Picasso. But your point still stands. The right is pretty well known for cherry picking to make them look better. “This one person did something bad? This means the other MILLIONS of the people with similar beliefs must be bad!”

      • L

        Lakin StarbuckOct 27, 2022 at 11:38 am

        Yeah that’s my bad. Not a big art history guy so I get Picasso and Van Gogh mixed up sometimes. The thing is I don’t think the point is that what people did here was bad. The throwing mashed potatoes on Monet’s painting was described as “a stunt which caused no damage to the art” by CNBC (Police arrest German climate protesters who threw mashed potatoes at Monet painting) and NYT said the painting was “unharmed” (When Soup and Mashed Potatoes Are Thrown, Can the Earth Win?). Everyone knows by now that the Van Gogh painting was covered in glass when it was “vandalized” and that no harm was done. I could care less about a King Charles III statue, something that hardly classifies as art. The point is that only protests that can be used to demonize climate activists get coverage (like I said, nobody remembers Wynn Bruce). This kind of manufactured outrage causes people to smugly say “well I don’t think this is the right way to protest, why can’t they do this without ruining art”. Well we know they’re not ruining art and we know people have been protesting the “right” way for decades. Look at the pattern of what protests get coverage in the reactionist corporate owned “free press”.

  • J

    Joel ValdezOct 26, 2022 at 8:31 am

    This is not a great way of getting more attention to the climate change movement; it’s only making the movement look bad. I mean, if you’re going to commit a crime to make climate change awareness more popular, why not just track down an oil billionaire and kill them?

    • L

      Lakin StarbuckOct 26, 2022 at 9:54 am

      Great suggestion!

  • N

    Nick rOct 25, 2022 at 3:13 pm

    Only in Ohio

  • D

    DarbyOct 25, 2022 at 11:14 am

    it’s still annoying that people are ruining art