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Vegetable soup against oil extraction: a wave of actions by environmental activists


Vandalism by environmental activists has suddenly increased in recent months. Similar patterns may suggest that these protests are being scripted by the same team, despite the different names of the organisations. Judge for yourself.

Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies activists painted Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol at the National Gallery of Australia with blue paint. They demanded the government stop supporting the oil, gas and coal industry.

One of the activists explained that Andy Warhol portrayed a cult of consumption in his paintings. She said this particular painting had been chosen because now capitalism had "driven everyone mad".

In Madrid's Museo Nacional del Prado, two eco-activists glued their hands to frames of paintings of "The Naked Maja" and "The Clothed Maja" by Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Climate activist group Futuro Vegetal has claimed responsibility. It announced this on Twitter by posting a video of the action.

Photo: Reuters

The eco-activists attacked the painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis Gallery in The Hague. Two men were involved in the performance. One of the men put his forehead to the painting and glued his hand next to it, and doused himself with a red liquid. The other asked the audience in English:

"How do you feel when you are faced with the threat of destroying something beautiful?"

He went on to continue his thought by saying that the planet is now under threat of destruction.

In an effort to raise awareness of climate change, members of the Last Generation movement poured mashed potatoes over a painting by Claude Monet of the Stoli series at Palazzo Barberini in Potsdam and vegetable soup over a painting by Vincent van Gogh of The Sower in the Palazzo Bonaparte Museum in Rome.

Action in Potsdam, Germany
Freeze frame: Generation

Activists from the same organisation stuck their hands to the frame of Raphael's Sistine Madonna, the most famous and iconic painting in the Dresden gallery, in protest. They caused damage to the golden frame, which is estimated to be worth 250,000 euros. The painting itself, covered in glass, was not damaged during the action.

In Australia, two Extinction Rebellion Australia protesters against climate change were arrested for sticking their hands on a painting by Pablo Picasso at the National Gallery of Victoria. It was reported by the Daily Mail.

Photo: XRVicAus / Twitter

The eco-protesters unfurled a banner reading 'Climate chaos = war and famine' and broadcast their actions live.

As a result, visitors to the gallery had to be evacuated.

Just Stop Oil activists launched two chocolate cakes into the face of the wax statue of King Charles III at Madame Tussauds in London. The activists called on the British government to stop using oil and not to license its extraction. The Telegraph writes.

"We are here because we seek to protect our freedoms and rights, because we seek to protect this green and lovely land, which remains as a legacy for all of us," the eco-activists said.

Earlier, Just Stop Oil members poured two cans of Heinz tomato soup over Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery in London and glued themselves to the wall, and poured orange paint on the facade of the flagship Aston Martin car showroom.

Members of Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion were imaginative and diluted the succession of mockery of the world's masterpieces of painting. The protesters stormed the runway of Schiphol airport, blocking the departure of private planes. Nearly 500 people took part in the action, demanding a reduction in the number of flights. The police detained about a hundred protesters, while the rest were dispersed.

Photo: Greenpeace Nederland / Twitter

What do the protests mean? What is the point of these actions? Will mashed potatoes on a world masterpiece somehow help the planet's ecology?

Of course not. The main purpose is to create a buzz in the press, to draw maximum attention. In fact, the paintings were not really damaged - they were all behind glass. But the resonance in the media was loud, especially as the actions took place almost in a row in different cities of the world. This tactic helped to keep the news coverage on the front page for several weeks.

On top of this, the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) will be held in Egypt on November 6 to 18. One could say that activists were running a kind of publicity campaign in support of the event.

It should be noted that such "eco-terrorist" actions are not welcomed either by authorities or spectators. Many participants in such actions were fined or even given real prison sentences, though only minor ones.

In October, there was another rally of this kind in Germany, but environmental groups are reluctant to talk about it.

A group of nine people called Scientist Rebellion took over the Porsche pavilion in front of the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg.


Everything developed according to the usual scenario: first, the protesters superglued flyers to the cars on display and then their palms to the floor of the showroom.

The activists demanded that Volkswagen should begin to actively combat climate change, as well as take action on public transport and speed limits on highways of up to 100 km/h.

Employees at the German car manufacturer were blatantly indifferent to the action. At the end of the day they simply left the premises, switched off the light and blocked the heating in the hall - not out of cruelty, but simply to save money.

After a few hours the protesters began to complain that they were not getting food and could not go to the toilet. In addition, the glue made some people's hands hurt.

An activist called Gianluca Grimaldi vowed to stay at the protest until VW said it would lobby for eco-friendly transport, but after 24 hours he voluntarily left the pavilion to seek medical attention and then was arrested. After he left, the rest of the protesters were detained by the police.

By Irina Iakovleva

Cover photo:

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