Two activists were arrested after throwing pumpkin soup at the bulletproof glass enclosing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. The protesters, advocating for “healthy and sustainable food,” claimed that the agricultural system is unhealthy.
The two individuals are affiliated with the French organization “Riposte Alimentaire” (Food Counterattack). They identify as a collective that works to raise awareness of the importance of preserving sustainable food sources.
The collective accuses the French government of not meeting climate commitments and advocates for a comprehensive system, similar to state-sponsored healthcare, to improve access to healthy food for the public and ensure fair income for farmers. Concurrently, frustrated French farmers are employing tractors to stage road blockades, protesting for better compensation, reduced bureaucracy, and protection against inexpensive imports.
During the incident, staff from the Louvre Museum quickly stepped in, clearing the area and putting black screens in front of the Mona Lisa. The management of the museum denounced the action and reaffirmed their dedication to preserving artworks while respecting the right to peaceful protest.
Rachida Dati, France’s Minister for Culture, emphasized that there is no justification for targeting the Mona Lisa. She stated that the painting, like other cultural heritage, belongs to future generations.
The protest raised a contentious discussion; some considered it as disrespectful of art and vandalism, while others saw it as a crucial attention-getter for a pressing subject. A movement of civil resistance with the clear objective of the security of environmentally friendly food was what the action signified according to the climate activists.
This is actually not an uncommon occasion. In 2022, the Mona Lisa was targeted in a similar incident when a climate protester smeared cake on the glass, stating that it was done in the spirit of artists’ concern for the Earth. The protester was escorted away by security after the act.
Similar soup-throwing incidents happened at the Prado Museum in Madrid and the National Gallery in London, underscoring the expanding tendency of utilizing art as a platform to raise awareness of important social and environmental concerns.