​​Soup and Cake Are Being Launched at Famous Paintings — Why Are Climate Activists Targeting Art?

Rayna Skiver - Author

Nov. 7 2022, Published 9:44 a.m. ET

Why are climate activists targeting art?
Source: ISTOCK

First, it was cake being thrown at the Mona Lisa. Then, it was tomato soup being launched at a Van Gogh painting. People wanted to know the when, where, and why — and in turn, they found out that these actions were serving as climate protests.

But why are climate activists targeting art?

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Some say that targeting these famous paintings went too far, while others say it wasn’t far enough. Even after the “why” was revealed, not everyone is on board with this slightly unusual method of protesting.

Climate activists are targeting art to draw attention to the climate crisis.

In October, climate activists from the group Just Stop Oil threw two cans of soup at Van Gogh's famous “Sunflowers” painting.

After launching the tomato soup, one of the activists said, “What is worth more? Art or life?” She went on to ask the crowd if art is worthy of more attention than the current climate crisis the world is facing.

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According to ABC News, the two protestors were arrested for criminal damage and aggravated trespass. The event garnered a ton of attention from the news to social media.

So what was the purpose of all of this? According to one of the protesters, the goal was to get people to think about the climate crisis and the current and future issues we will have to face if nothing is done. Targeting art was meant to show people that there are more important things to worry about.

When the cake was thrown at the Mona Lisa back in May, the intent was the same. This activist said, “Think about the Earth.”

Even though both of the renowned paintings were behind glass, the events led to various reactions from around the world.

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This unusual protesting method worked.

It turns out that throwing food at art is an effective way to grab people’s attention. Even though both paintings were behind glass and unharmed, the reaction to the act was still pretty visceral — which was the whole point.

According to The New York Times, the activists who threw the tomato soup had tried many other tactics to draw attention to the issue, but petitions and marches weren’t cutting it. While this specific protest was definitely noticed, some people question whether or not the observers are focusing on climate issues or if they’re simply thinking about food being thrown at art.

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One activist told The New York Times that her hope was for people to feel as protective and defensive about the Earth as they do about a painting. And she has a point, as most people were incredibly upset about how the artwork was treated, rather than wondering why such an intense action was even necessary in the first place.

Even if you don’t necessarily agree with the tactics used, it probably did get you thinking about why the activists did what they did. The climate crisis is happening right now and we need to give it our utmost attention.

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