The Art of Activism


Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic painting “Sunflowers”. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIACOMMONS

Emma Hazard
Staff Writer

Over the past few years, we have seen a rise in the different ways that activists and protesters have been raising awareness for their causes. From peaceful protests to rioting, the world has been seeing many different ends of the spectrum when it comes to getting a point across. Some of these methods, however, have been more strange than others.

On Oct. 14, two unnamed activists from the “Just Stop Oil” campaign group were taken into custody after throwing tomato soup on the famous Vincent van Gogh painting Sunflowers in the National Gallery in London, England. The group has been protesting in the U.K.’s capital for the past two weeks in response to the government’s gas and oil plans which have left many families in the U.K. without heat. The two protesters who defiled van Gogh’s painting proceeded to glue themselves to the wall of the gallery and give a speech after making their mess. “The cost of living crisis is a part of the cost of oil crisis. Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold, hungry families,” one of the activists claimed after gluing her hand to the wall and holding up her soup can. “They can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup.”

According to London police, the activists were arrested on accounts of “criminal damage and aggravated trespass” after being removed from the wall of the gallery. The National Gallery staff has since confirmed that the painting’s frame has sustained a slight amount of damage, but the painting itself was left unharmed. Environmental activists in Europe have been taking to galleries for quite a few of their protests within recent months, this “trend” seeming to start when a climate change protester smeared cake on the glass casing protecting the Mona Lisa back at the end of May. While the battle between the Earth and its worldly possessions continues, hopefully we won’t see any more famous artworks caught in the line of fire.