Mona Lisa Covered in Soup in Climate Protest

We live in an era of increasingly conceptual protests

Mona Lisa protest
Environmental activists from the collective "Riposte Alimentaire" (Food Retaliation) as they stand in front of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" (La Joconde) painting after hurling soup at the artwork.

We’ve come a long way from climate protests involving signs, slogans and large gatherings. In recent years, some of the most visible displays expressing frustration at the current state of the environment have been especially visceral — including people glueing themselves to the ground at the U.S. Open and Porsche’s in-house museum. It seemed inevitable that protests would eventually get higher-profile — and it doesn’t get much higher-profile than the Mona Lisa.

Which might explain why the painting was recently covered in soup.

As Hyperallergic’s Hakim Bishara reports, the soup protest was the result of the group Riposte Alimentaire, whose name translates to “Food Response.” A lengthy thread posted to the group’s social media detailed their reasons for the action — which include concerns over the environmental impact of large-scale agriculture and the economically precarious conditions facing small farmers.

Hyperallergic reports that one protestor at the Louvre posed the question, “What is more important? Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food?” And while their concerns over the state of the environment and of food insecurity are eminently valid, this seems like a question that doesn’t need to be an either/or situation.

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Riposte Alimentaire’s previous actions include blockading the Concorde Bridge in support of another activist group, Dernière Rénovation, and disrupting a Christmas market in Strasbourg. What might be the next work of art covered in food as a protest action? The mind boggles.

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