After environmental activists splashing soup across Van Gogh’s sunflowers made massive headlines across the world, another activist from the same group, Just Stop Oil, glued his head to Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece ‘Girl with a pearl earring.’
In a video posted on Twitter, another protester could be seen pouring soup over the man who glued his head to the painting. The man screams, “How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes? Do you feel outrage? Good. That is the feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before our very eyes.”
— Steven Bakker (@Kolpen) October 27, 2022
The acts of vandalism are part of a movement calling for a halt to all new oil and gas consents and licenses. However, the actions of the group have so far only succeeded in ushering a wave of criticism over its effectiveness. The group claimed that they resorted to such high-profile strategies since little else has worked in their attempt to eliminate climate apathy.
“We tried sitting in the roads, we tried blocking oil terminals, and we got virtually zero press coverage, yet the thing that gets the most press is chucking some tomato soup on a piece of glass covering a masterpiece,” The New York Times quoted Mel Carrington, a spokesperson for Just Stop Oil.
Stephen Duncombe, a professor at New York University and co-founder of the Center for Artistic Activism, a nonprofit group that trains activists, said this had made him question the efficacy of the protests.
“Are they talking about food being thrown at art or are they talking about how carbon-based fuels are going to extinguish life on the planet?” Duncombe said in a statement to The New York Times. “If the message getting across is activists doing crazy stuff, does it help the cause or not?”
Some semblance of an answer to his question comes from one of the protesters involved in the soup incident. She explains in a video posted on Twitter, “We never ever would have considered doing it if we didn’t know that it [the painting] was behind glass.” She further added, “I agree, it is ridiculous. But we’re not asking the question, ‘Should everybody be throwing soup at paintings?’. What we’re doing is getting the conversation going so we can ask the questions that matter.”
listen to her explain the Van Gogh soup protest.
she’s got a point, no? pic.twitter.com/cObcWNx8aP
— michael mezz (@michaelmezz) October 18, 2022
Meanwhile, the recently-installed Home Secretary Suella Braverman made plans for a tough crackdown on climate demonstrators. Braverman accused them of holding the public to ransom. She promised to empower the police to put an end to these protests. Her plan also contains a clause that would make disrupting oil refineries a crime that would be punishable by 12 months jail-time.