Two protesters pelt painting with potatoes and glue their hands to wall at Museum Barberini in Potsdam
Claude Monet has become the latest artist to be the focus of food-related climate protests, after members of a German environmental group threw mashed potatoes over one of his paintings in a Potsdam museum on Sunday.
Nine days after Just Stop Oil emptied tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London, two activists from Letzte Generation (Last Generation) entered the Museum Barberini and doused Monet’s Les Meules (Haystacks) with potato before glueing their hands to the wall.
The protesters said the stunt was designed as a wake-up call in the face of a climate catastrophe. “People are starving, people are freezing, people are dying,” one of the activists said in a video of the incident tweeted by Letzte Generation.
“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,” the protester said. “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. When will you finally start to listen? When will you finally start to listen and stop business as usual?”
The group said it had decided to make “this Monet the stage and the public the audience” to try to get its message across. “If it takes pelting a painting with mashed potato or tomato soup to remind society that the fossil course is killing us all, then we give you mashed potato on a painting,” it added.
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.
The spokesperson said police had arrived quickly and that the protesters’ hands were detached from the wall “relatively easily”.
Last year, members of Letzte Generation staged a hunger strike outside the Reichstag building in Berlin to protest about the lack of political action over the climate emergency. Earlier this year, they glued themselves to some of Germany’s busiest motorways.
The group, which accuses the German government of ignoring all warnings and bringing the country to “the edge of the abyss”, says it is part of the last generation that can prevent society from collapsing.
“Facing this reality, we accept high [fines], criminal charges and deprivation of liberty undaunted,” it says on its website .