activists from Ultima Gnerazione glued under Van Gogh's The Sower in Rome

‘Last Generation’ throw soup on Van Gogh painting in Rome

By Region Central Italy Environment News

Climate activists from Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) threw vegetable soup on Van Gogh’s The Sower in Rome’s Palazzo Bonaparte museum on Friday. It is the latest action to bring public attention to the climate crisis.

The action by Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) follows gluing themselves to Botticelli’s Primavera in Florence’s Uffizi and road-blocks around Rome. Similar protests have taken place across Europe, including:

  • UK-based Just Stop Oil hurling tomato soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London.
  • Letzte Generation members throwing mashed potatoes at a Monet landscape at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany
  • a Belgian demonstrator attempting to glue his head to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis in the Hague.

Raising awareness without damaging the art

This latest action to raise awareness on the climate fight involved three female members of Ultima Generazione. As in the other protests involving artwork, The Sower was not damaged because it is behind glass.

“We were expecting it, (there has been) no damage but it is a useless gesture,” said Arthemisia President and Managing Director Iole Siena.

“We had been expecting it even before the show opened, and we had had several meetings with Carabinieri and museum chiefs.

“We stopped everyone from bringing in bags and backpacks and for that reason they could only do very little.” Iole went on: “When the protesters got up close to the work one of them took out a little tin can she had hidden down her trousers.

“Nothing bad happened to the picture and the girls then glued themselves to the wall under the painting with superglue. We didn’t even close the show, but only the room, because the restorer had to assess possible damage. The frame will have to be cleaned, and the room will probably reopen this evening.

“These are demonstrative stunts that I condemn with the greatest severity, even though they are useless gestures. They even told the media they were going to do it.

“Luckily up till now they have only targeted works protected by glass, but some copycat might emulate them with unprotected works and cause serious damage. These are blatant stunts that don’t achieve anything and damage themselves in the collective consciousness”.

The Sower is on loan from the Kröller-Müller Museum.

The three young women who carried out the attack may be cited for damaging the cultural patrimony. Strange, considering the director of the exhibition stated, “Nothing bad happened to the picture”.

Are they really “useless gestures?”

Iole Siena dismissed the actions as “useless gestures”, but I would suggest he is more careful with his words.

Ultimate Generazione are, in fact, being rather considerate in their protests. They are not attacking unprotected pieces of art. The Sower and Primavera were both behind glass. They are making a statement. As ItalyNews.Online reported earlier, this is because this type of activity gets media coverage, not hunger strikes.

Theirs is not an unworthwhile or puerile cause. Their cause is a very serious one. A cause that until now has been swept under the carpet with a lot of “blah blah blah” from politicians, as Greta Thunberg rightly pointed out.

The environment is being affected, more quickly and more devastatingly, due to the huge growth population across the world and how we live.

Why should people not make their voice heard? Why should they not shame politicians into taking real action against climate change?

The agricultural industry in Italy has already lamented on how they have been affected by severe weather this year. And for the naysayers who believe this is just part of the cycle of life  you are wrong.

Yes, there are cyclical phenomena regarding the weather. However, industrialisation on the global scale we’re experiencing now, with an ageing and growing population creating more demand, is speeding up the whole process.

Will they be the last generation? Possibly not. But it is increasingly likely there won’t be many more after them.  

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