‘This painting is not going to be worth anything if we have to fight over food’
On Sunday (October 23), two members of a German youth climate group called Letzte Generation (Last Generation) threw mashed potato over a Claude Monet painting in a bid to raise awareness of the approaching climate catastrophe. The painting, “Les Meules (Haystacks)”, is housed at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam and is worth nearly £100 million.
Earlier this month, the UK climate activist group Just Stop Oil came to international attention after throwing tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London.
“People are starving, people are freezing, people are dying,” one of the two Last Generation activists said after glueing their hand to the wall. “We are in a climate catastrophe and all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting,” they continued. “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.”
It’s also estimated that by 2050, heat-related deaths will triple, 200,000 homes in England will be at risk due to rising sea levels, and there will be 1.2 billion climate refugees globally.
“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,” the Last Generation activist added. “When will you finally start to listen? When will you finally start to listen and stop business as usual?”
They elaborated further on Twitter, where they shared a video of the protest. “Monet loved nature and captured its fragile beauty in his works,” they wrote. “Why are many more afraid of one of these images being damaged than of the destruction of our world itself?”
There is no art on a dead planet.pic.twitter.com/2B7izCD0bT— Peter Kalmus (@ClimateHuman) October 23, 2022
A spokesperson for the museum said the painting was protected by glass and the museum later said it did not appear to have been damaged.
Last year, members of Last Generation also staged a hunger strike outside the Reichstag building in Berlin in protest against the government’s inaction on the climate crisis. Additionally, earlier this year, they glued themselves to some of Germany’s busiest motorways.